Focus and confidence
First, I cannot begin to describe the difference in the amount of sweating there is. Jake was an excessive sweater from day one. Summer and winter, just 15 minutes would produce a lathered horse, and I promise – he was fit! Now, he still sweats when we work, but my GOODNESS has it decreased! A hard workout produces a healthy lather between his haunches, on his flanks, neck, and ears – but not the foamy, dripped, exhausted looking gelding I used to get. I was shocked that over two days at the Doug Payne clinic, jumping at our current max height for two hours straight, my horse was not only NOT the sweatiest for once, he was one of the least lathered and winded. He looked GREAT! I have included a picture of him from a year ago twenty minutes into a hunter pace (we were mostly just trotting on even terrain, note how sweaty he is – don’t mind my silly face), and a picture from the clinic in mid December where we had already been mostly cantering and jumping for two hours, on the second day of the clinic.
The second major change in my horse is his focus and confidence. I have a more confident partner approaching fences, and when learning new things on the flat. He is able to work for longer periods of time, and gets better and calmer as we progress, not hotter. He doesn’t get quite as defensive, if that makes sense, when he thinks he gave me an incorrect answer. He is easy to refocus, and stoic about potentially “scary” situations. He has always been pretty stoic, but not always so easy-going. He just seems more relaxed.