There’s no place like WEF. There’s no place like WEF. There’s no place like WEF.
Did it work?
Nope, still freezing our butts off here in VA. Addy must’ve thought I was extra cuddly because I was desperately trying to share her body heat. Turns out that trotting around while trying to hug your horse’s neck is “poor equitation” and you need to “actually sit up in your saddle.” Buzzkills.
Anyways, it was another fantastic lesson. I know I say this every time, but we genuinely have a blast every time. Even when things don’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped, I always walk away feeling like we accomplished something and had fun. Hooray for fun pony!
We warmed up with pretty standard flatwork- there were four horses in the ring which required a little bit of power steering, but everyone was advanced enough that we avoided any collisions. A little two-point, a little no-stirrup work, and some practice with transitions within gaits (something we really need to work on).
One exercise that was a little different was a canter serpentine: three loops with simple changes in the middle of each loop to stay on the correct lead the entire time. This was great to get the horses supple and listening to cues for change of bend. Of course Addy, being her usual snowplow self, figured that we were cantering, we should stay cantering, counter-canter was just fine with her, simple changes are for losers. Those downwards transitions are always what get us. After a few tries she finally listened to my desperate half-halts and begrudgingly agreed to do her simple changes.
And then jumping! Are you guys ready for another sick diagram? Hope you are, ’cause you’re totally getting one.
So professional. What we had was a long approach to an outside vertical, then woah-ing to trot in the crossrail and out the bending line in a forward three, stay left over the coop, hard left over the pink vertical, then circle around to roll back over the yellow planks.
While this looks like a pretty simple course, it had a couple changes of pace that made it tricky. The long approach to the vertical made it easy to build up steam, but then the short end comes up quickly along with the trot jump. Lots of leg upon landing to make the forward three, then balancing through the turns to the coop and the pink vertical. Then the horse thinks they’re done, so leg on and balance through the roll back to the yellow plank which comes up very quickly off that turn.
This course was so much fun because despite a couple of tight turns, it really invited a big open stride. I mentioned last week that we both feel more comfortable with a bigger stride, and that was definitely the case over this course. Distances came up better, I felt more balanced, and I was better able to stay with her motion even when we got a bit long. It’s definitely a pattern from last week- my automatic release was so much easier when we’re carrying that pace.
While she’s willing to collect and get more bouncy when I ask, big open strides are definitely Addy’s happy place. She feels more responsive when we’ve got a bit of speed going and I can feel her being super careful over the jumps. I know that we’re going to need to practice collecting to get more comfortable with those shorter strides, but this was a nice change of pace (pun absolutely intended).
We talked about the possibility of doing a jumper class in the spring (which is one of my New Year’s Resolutions, so booyah!) and confirmed that once that first show is under our belt we can move up to 3′. Trainer assigned our homework for the week: take our work on transitions to the next level. Shorten stride, lengthen stride, hand-gallop to halt, collected canter to extended trot, anything that will pose a challenge and get her attention, with a hard focus on getting our canter stride more adjustable. Addy and I may be very happy with a big stride, but there will inevitably be a turn or a test that requires a little more finesse.
Also some fantastic news- Owner Lady is out of town all next week, so Addy is all mine for a solid 9 days! Manfriend sure will be (not) surprised when I’m there 6 days out of 7. I’m not that much of a cruel taskmistress, she does get at least one day off.
There you have it- we got to gallop around and jump big, and the two of us once again had the most fun of anyone in the ring.
Any tips for working on adjustability within the canter? How about our downwards transitions? What helps reinforce your half-halt?