Hand-Gallop to the Finish

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 anyΒ 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.

I'm a very visual learner, these diagrams seem helpful. Imma keep doin' them.
Amanda over at The Poor Amateur’s Almanac is using awesome diagrams too, so there must be something to this.

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.

Not to mention she's the cutest creature on the planet!
Not to mention she’s the cutest creature on the planet!

Any tips for working on adjustability within the canter? How about our downwards transitions? What helps reinforce your half-halt?

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12 thoughts on “Hand-Gallop to the Finish

  1. Amanda Lee 01/29/2015 / 1:30 pm

    Eee! Have fun riding Addy (almost) every day! I’m pretty jealous~ Sounds like you had a lot of fun with this lesson!

    Like

    • hellomylivia 01/29/2015 / 1:32 pm

      Thanks! She doesn’t even realize how much flatwork and conditioning we’re gonna do next week. (cue evil laugh).

      Like

  2. Tracy 01/30/2015 / 9:56 am

    Addy is just so cute! I luff her

    Like

    • hellomylivia 01/30/2015 / 10:30 am

      Isn’t she adorable?! I squeal at her every time. She puts up with the cooing and the hugs because she knows it’ll get her carrots and neck scratches.

      Like

    • hellomylivia 01/30/2015 / 10:32 am

      Also you win Best Commenter Ever Award! (I totally didn’t make that up, it’s a real thing I promise) Thank you so much for all your feedback and encouragement!!

      Like

  3. Annye / AnAmishWarmblood 01/30/2015 / 10:46 am

    That course looks SO FUN! Lots of different questions, plus lots of galloping! Is this all in an indoor arena?

    Like

    • hellomylivia 01/30/2015 / 10:47 am

      It definitely kept our attention! Yep, we’re lucky enough to have a decent sized indoor to jump in here. The turns are a little tight, but it’s great practice and we’re fortunate enough to have good footing all winter long.

      Like

      • Annye / AnAmishWarmblood 01/30/2015 / 10:59 am

        That sounds really great! We have an indoor too (which I love and am very thankful for!), but it isn’t big enough to really do much jumping at all.

        Winter is for dressage anyway, right?!? πŸ˜›

        Like

      • hellomylivia 01/30/2015 / 11:07 am

        Flatwork Forever! I only jump in lessons, so we spend loooots and lots of time practicing our dressage πŸ™‚

        Like

  4. justawomanwholifts 02/01/2015 / 11:57 am

    Just found this page- and laughed out loud, what great writing! There is nothing better than horses. Seriously.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 02/01/2015 / 12:00 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it! Horses are definitely a constant source of comedy!

      Like

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