Yesterday’s lesson was our first in about a month- traveling for the holidays and bad weather have meant no jumping for Miss Addy and myself since mid-December. I was super excited for this lesson for one main reason: I thought I looked so cool. Seriously, I felt like a badass. New tan breeches, my newly stretched and re-fit tall boots, and I knew that if attire meant anything, this lesson would rock.
So here I am, feeling like a Grand Prix rider, and I show up to the barn ready to jump
4′ oxers whatever my trainer puts in front of me, but it had better be impressive. Addy was not super on board with this, and when I started babbling at her about taking the local circuit by storm she just looked my way and said “Nope. Staying here and staying warm.”
We chatted for a bit and I could tell she was starting to get into the idea.
Once we warmed up with some flatwork focusing on lateral movements and
grueling torture no-stirrup work, we got into the jumping part. The footing in the ring is really packed down in the middle because of the cold, so we just worked on a single quarter line. Only 2 jumps the whole time? Seemed boring.
But it wasn’t! The first jump was a small trot in, then a quiet six strides out. I don’t know about you all, but trot jumps are my nemesis- I throw my shoulders forward, bounce around, and I just can’t seem to nail it. Looks like that’s some homework right there. So off the bat there was already a challenge.
Then the quiet six strides. Key word: quiet. I’m on a horse that could have done that in four, and would’ve been comfortable in five. But true to form, she was a rockstar and sat back for the six every single time. Our work on collecting and downwards transitions was really apparent here, she’s definitely balancing and listening to my half halt a lot more instead of stringing out after a jump.
“Instead of being a strung out slinky dachshund, you’re a nice tightly coiled slinky dachshund!” -Trainer
The last jump was just a simple vertical with a box under it, but after a few warm up lines, my trainer switched it up. With a voice of doom she told me, “Olivia, next time through I want you to try an automatic release over the out.”
And that’s when it got messy.
- First try: muscle memory said crest release high and forward, brain said automatic release low and wide. Result was weird. Don’t know where my hands went.
- Second try: hands went low and wide. Without the crutch of the crest release, I pinched with my knees and my legs swung back towards her tail. I looked like Superman, but not in the cool way.
SixthThird try: hands low and wide, abs engaged, legs firmly on with no pinching. Success!
This is definitely going to be something we work on, because a crest release is just so ingrained in me. But I think once I learn to hold my leg a little stronger and really engage that core strength, this is going to be a great tool in our arsenal. I could tell that it forced me to stay over Addy’s center of gravity rather than jump ahead of the motion. It also made my bad habits clear- without my hands to support my upper body, pinching with my knee became a huge problem. Sigh. I guess this means more no-stirrup work.
Poor Addy is just gonna have to deal with a sack of potatoes on her back for a little while longer ’til I can pull it together.
Anyone have any tips for mastering the automatic release? How about trot jumps?