I try to have a plan for each ride when I start out. Sometimes the plan changes, but I try to set my goals — or my limits — before I ride. It’s the times when I’ve tried to do more than my plan that I’ve gotten into trouble. You know, the time you just have to take one more jump and that’s the one where you crash?
Today was the first time I moved Freedom up to the first flight in the hunt field. We’ve managed to hunt only twice before today this season. Both times I decided before the hunt that we would hilltop. I was sorely tempted to move him up at the last hunt because he was being so good but I knew that for him, a quiet ride would pay dividends later.
Today we had four shoes, dry ground and cool temperatures. It was the perfect day to move him up and see how he did with a bit more excitement. Overall, it went fine. He liked cantering on. Maybe a bit too much but not so much that he didn’t listen. He wasn’t crazy about going around the jumps because it meant taking a different route than the field and that made him anxious. I did let him jump a few of the smaller ones, but I think it’s going to be awhile yet before he can focus on galloping and jumping. I guess I’m not as brave as I used to be: I tend to focus more on control now than on speed.
So what’s my plan? If I’m lucky I’ll get one more hunt this season and I’ll try him again in the first flight. After that, we have a whole summer to work on jumping in a group.