WE GOT TO JUMP LAST NIGHT!!! For the first time in a couple weeks, the weather and my health cooperated and we got to hop over obstacles. Sure, it was only two weeks since we had jumped, but it felt longer! And Addy certainly let me know how happy she was to have some “real” work to do.
We warmed up with some nice stretchy walk and then trotted big circles and serpentines to encourage the horses to reach for the contact. Addy was pretty pokey- for her, this means that I wasn’t actively trying to slow her down. I still didn’t need to add leg. We worked on our half seats a bit, some sitting trot/extended trot transitions, and she was listening wonderfully.
We moved on to canter, and she definitely woke up! She still listened beautifully, but pokey pony was gone. We think that she wasn’t taking the ride seriously until we started moving. We did some collecting and lengthening in the canter, with our lengthenings looking much less like a wrestling match than the collectings.
Then it was time for jumps! We warmed up by trotting over a crossrail a couple times- my trot jump is feeling a lot better thanks to the advice I got from you guys!- and then over a broken line in 8ish. I say 8ish because the other horses put 9. But the 8 worked so nicely for us!
Now on to the course! Presenting this week’s professional diagram- jumps were 2’6″-2’9″:
How this course was meant to be ridden: 1 to 2 in a bending 8, balance around the corner for the Swedish oxer, balance around the corner for the bending 4 to 5 in 6 strides (my proportions on this diagram are clearly off, I swear that was the striding), balance around the corner to 6, then you’re done.
How we actually rode it: 1 to 2 in a bending 7 once the jumps were up. Careen around the corner to the oxer. EXTRA CAREEN around to 4, almost miss it and slice it straight to 5 in 5. CAREEN AROUND THE CORNER to 6. Ask for woah. Do not receive woah. Realize that this is Addy’s version of a happy dance for a course well done.
So we did a victory gallop.
While the turns were quite tight and we probably didn’t balance as well through them as we should have (hence the wild careening about the ring), this course ended up riding extremely smoothly. The bending 7 was very comfortable, and the oxer was in a sweet spot off the rail so we got a nice close distance to it. The tight turn meant that we had to slice 4, but that worked out for the best, since slicing that line straight to the end gave us more room to maneuver around the left turn to the last jump.
We also reversed the course: 4-5-6-1-2-3. Similar turns, similar careening. This time it was the 1-2 line that got sliced- the horses build a lot over 6 since it’s towards home and pretty big, so balancing around to 1 is HARD! But the slice ended up working beautifully again.
And when we ended the course, we did a victory gallop.
Instead of getting tired as the lesson progressed, she got more excited about what she was doing and our victory laps got longer. She wasn’t trying to take off or be bratty, so I let her express herself. There’s nothing quite like being on a horse that is telling you so clearly, “I’M HAVING SO MUCH FUN RIGHT NOW!!”
A couple things I noticed and was really happy about:
- I’ve been trying to focus on my release more and I felt that it paid off yesterday. Addy has such a big powerful jump, and I never want to discourage her by knocking her in the mouth. I don’t want to exaggerate my release by any stretch; I want to be conscious of staying out of her way so she can use herself. She responded yesterday by giving me a tremendous effort over every single jump!
- While the corners were tight and we did a bit of barrel racing turns to get around them, I was able to sit deep in the tack and keep a feel on her mouth. I’ve struggled in the past with getting popped out of the tack around hard turns; this time I felt more secure and comfortable, even if we were listing to port.
- Our distances were very deliberate. As I’ve been getting my eye back, I’ve admittedly had a couple “Jesus take the wheel” moments. Or more accurately, “Addy please get me out of this mess” moments (or even more accurately, a little of both). There was none of that yesterday. I saw my spots and either moved up or collected to reach the spot that I chose. I even asked her for a couple close spots and she didn’t get nearly as upset about it as she usually does- either she was happy to be jumping, or she finally thought that I was there to support her. Progress!
- I could feel her hesitating a lot and getting wiggly to jump 5- this was a very simple vertical with no filler. For some reason, this is Addy’s least favorite type of jump- she will go over any flower box, stone wall, gate, or any type of filler without blinking, but give her a plain vertical with no filler and she gets very wary. But this time instead of letting her call the shots and duck out, I closed my leg and rode more actively to the base. Once we made it over once she didn’t look at it again. I think she needed to get the reassurance that I wasn’t going to let her go it alone- I was there to help her out.
The pattern here was that this was a much more active ride than I’ve been doing lately. My requests to Addy felt deliberate and I was able to support her to the base of every jump, then get out of her way. I know we have homework to do- our downwards transitions are still sticky and getting those will be the key to balancing around those tough corners- but this lesson felt like such progress! I finally felt that our success was due at least in part to my riding and not just Addy’s ability.
I also found out about our new plan for a first show! There’s a VHSA show about 20 minutes away on March 14th, and we’re planning on being there! They have some 2’6″ hunter classes we can do, and if things go well we may enter the 2’9″ benefit hunters. Trainer asked if I’d want to try out the 3′, but I’d like to stick to our original plan and see how Addy behaves at shows before getting to the top of my comfort zone. I’m so excited!! Anyone in the area planning on going to River Chase on the 14th?
Have you had an “aha” moment where you realized you were taking control of your ride? How do you handle tough turns in your course- do you ride them a certain way, or are there flatwork exercises that help you prepare?