Ryker is moving forward, both in his flat work and over fences.  He's been working on creating more of a connection with the bit in his trot work, his back and shoulders are slowing beginning to come up; he is still figuring out how to canter with a light contact while allowing me to sit on his back.  I threw a flash noseband on him the last day before spring break, because he felt like he was ready for it.  He is a sensitive soul, so I didn't want to immediately clamp his mouth shut, but as he's  progressed with his understanding of contact and half-halts he's been using an open mouth as an evasion to the bit.  Although it took him time to calm down about it, he was wonderful once he settled.  The previous day we had a great jump school, working on adding poles to single fences - we had a pole, one stride to a vertical, on stride to a pole. He was quite calm about it, hopefully we can start adding more poles and eventually build them up into gymnastics. 

I decided instead of having him ridden lightly while I was away for spring break (Down in Southern Pines, NC to work with my personal OTTB with Denny Emerson at Tamarack Hill Farm) to give him a week off to contemplate the two wonderful progressive rides we had just had, and to recharge his batteries for when I return home. 

At my last school on my mare with Denny yesterday, there was a horse, Hawk, who was nearly identical to Ryker both in  build, way of going, and in attitude.  It felt like I was watching my own horse school with someone else.  It was wonderful to see a horse with a very similar mental state, and to soak up all of the advice Denny gave to the rider and to see the horse progress (hopefully Ryker will be just as athletic and willing as this horse). Denny's biggest comment with Hawk was to "lower the intensity"; that he needed to learn that everything is not as intense as the race track.  Denny had them trot everything first, calmly and quietly to bring everything down a notch.  This will be Ryker's M.O. for the rest of the semester, calm quiet rides, getting him to settle and focus on the job at hand - I have high hopes for him, and hopefully Denny's advice for Hawk will help Ryker progress.

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