Do you remember how last week we were working on that single quarter line? Well, this week was about as different as you can get.
Flatwork was pretty basic, really just to get the motors running. Addy had the day before off and no outdoor play time earlier that day (stupid snow), so we had no brakes. She wasn’t taking off or being fresh, she just reeeeeally really didn’t want to slow down. And despite my newfound courage, this was making me a little nervous about jumping. I figured if she was this heavy and fast on the flat, it would only get worse over fences.
Of course like the perfect girl that she is (I will never admit to her having any faults), as soon as she realized we were jumping she settled right down. I’m convinced she just loves her job and wants to show off a bit.
But now to the exciting part: the course Trainer set for us was the 2008 Maclay Medal 2nd round (see the original here). In a tiny indoor. She made a good point though- if I could make the turns in here, I could make them anywhere. Not even jumper classes will put in turns so tight. Here’s my oh-so-professional-made-in-Powerpoint diagram:
Yeah. I know. INSANE! But let’s walk through it. Fence 1 was a simple trot vertical with a hairpin turn to another small vertical, tight right turn to a forward bending four strides, quarter line in a forward three strides, diagonal oxer rollback to fences 8a and 8b in one stride, skinny brick wall with no standards with a tight turn to the center crossrail, rollback off the rail to a stone wall with no standards, and a galloping seven strides to the final vertical. Phew! I have to catch my breath just thinking about it.
I honestly thought this would be the day I fell off. Not because I thought Addy would misbehave, but because I figured I’d probably go flying off the side around one of those tight turns. But it actually went surprisingly well!
Trotting into the first jump set us up at a nice collected canter for the turn to that next vertical, which in turn set us up for an easy right turn to the bending line. We had to leg hard to get the four since we didn’t have a lot of momentum built up, but we re-balanced down the short end before re-legging up for the forward three. Collecting again for the diagonal oxer set us up for the tight turn to the in-and-out, but the striding was really comfortable for that pace. We got nice and slow and bouncy for the skinny brick knowing that Addy would likely over-jump it (it’s her least favorite jump), and we had a hard right over the middle. Landing on our left lead set us up for that rollback to the stone wall, and then we galloped on out of there.
I was very pleasantly surprised at our ability to navigate that course. For such a bulky big horse, Addy is super willing to make tight turns if I balance her correctly, and she’s so honest- the only times she’ll refuse are if I’m making her job too hard for her to do properly.
Things that went really well:
- The forward lines. We’re always being told to “woah” down the lines, so getting to stretch open and use her big stride felt great. I felt like I was able to move with her more naturally and see my distances better when we carried that pace.
- The in-and-out rode super nice out of that corner. It was a big stride but kept us in control for the next turn.
- The skinny brick. It’s not that Addy dislikes it persay, she’s just never quite sure if it really counts as a jump if there’s no standards. But apparently she’s learning to love it, ’cause we only overjumped it a little and she never hesitated at it.
- The final vertical. I loved that thing. The galloping seven was perfect there, and I could feel her jumping it so cute. For whatever reason, I felt really connected and put together over that jump every time.
Things that didn’t go as well:
- The track from the skinny brick to the middle crossrail. I needed to add in another half-halt there to make that smoother. We made it over both jumps, but that’s about the best you can say about it.
- The rollback over the standard-less stone wall. That was the worst! I’d keep my right leg on to encourage her around the tight corner, then forget to put my left leg back on to straighten her out. You can guess what happened- we sailed right by the left side. It took so many tries to get that right.
This was hugely different from what we worked on last week, and it was so much fun! I even got to practice my automatic release a bit, and it was a lot easier when we were carrying that pace. And the awesome advice I got in the comments last week definitely helped! None of the jumps were much higher than 2’9″, but it was a blast getting back to my equitation roots. Now that I know Addy can absolutely keep up with the tight turns it’s just making me more eager to move up to the adult medals with her.
What do you think of that course? Any tips for handling those tight turns more smoothly?