So yesterday I decided that I would try to ride him over a raised ground pole. I've only ever walked him across poles laying on the ground, just because I've been focusing on other things while riding, but I felt like yesterday was the time to test my prep. Work with him. I warmed him up on the ground, doing some patterns and refining our transitions and then I worked on our ground driving. He did so well with that, the best he's ever done. I was thrilled! I then wanted to make sure that he would walk and trot over the raised pole the way I wanted so that while riding we would be set up for success. At first he wanted to jump the pole at the trot but not out of unconfidence, so I just had him go across it until he fell into the stride and trotted across it. I tacked up and warmed him up with some "motivation" exercises and some patterns Parelli outlines, then worked on transitions which really help him lengthen his stride (transitions are our friend!!). He felt great and was walking across the raised pole fine, so I decided to trot. As soon as we were lined up with the pole I felt his head go up, his ears went forward and his stride got tense and a little fast (which I read as unconfidence) so I put him on a nice circle and asked him to relax, which he did quickly. I reapproached the pole and when he got a little tense I half-halted softly and decided to come down to a walk, go across the pole, disengage his hind end, turn and face the pole and relax. It didn't take long before he realized there was no need to be tense and soon he was trotting across the raised pole like a champ!! I was so happy. He did jump it once, not a huge jump though, but it felt more like a "Wath this!" kinda thing That felt fantastic! But I did insist he just trot across it and he did.
I know this doesn't sound like much, but for this horse it's a HUGE success because in the beginning he was so unconfident. I feel like now our transition to actual jumps will be so easy. I'm so proud of my boy!