Another awesome lesson in the books! And even better, we were able to warm up outside.
I scooted over to the barn after work and had quite a bit of time to kill, so I obviously spent that time pestering Trainer about our next show. I’m an addict. Gotta scratch the itch. I had found one in the area on the 25th (same location as our last show), but we have a junior who needs to qualify for the Children’s Medal, so we needed to find a show that offered the eq.
As an eq-lover, I immediately found a show on the 26th down the road. Aaaand they also have a 3′ Adult Medal! Apparently those classes rarely fill around here because no one cares about the eq (I live smack in the middle of Hunterland), so we’re solving that by bringing 3 adults. We’ll fill our own goshdarn classes. Goshdarnit. So if you’re in the area and want to come say hi at the Elmington Farm show out in Berryville on Sunday the 26th, we’ll be there with bright smiling faces!
I also got a special package from my awesomest ever lesson buddy; the Dover near us had a tent sale last week and I was out of town, so she was my enabler and texted me pics of everything. I am now the proud owner of 3 bottles of QuicSilver (can never have too much, amiright?) and a gorgeous pair of “Clay” TS breeches. They’re like a soft burnt orange and SO pretty. I may have also ordered a monogrammed saddle pad…they were so cheap I couldn’t resist! I got it in white with hunter green piping and a hunter green monogram, I can’t wait to try it on Pretty Girl.
All this before I even stepped in the barn!
Miss Addy was a delight to tack up as usual, and we hopped on in the outside ring. The last two times I’ve ridden out here Addy seemed a little short-stepped and this ride was no exception- the footing is quite different from the indoor and not as deep. She opened up just fine once she realized that the ground wasn’t going to hurt her tootsies. She’s been getting a ton of extra turnout lately and I could tell! Our canter-trot transitions were actually canter-trot transitions, with very little giraffing around. She was still quite peppy but also seemed more in tune with my aids, which is always a pleasure to ride.
Then we headed inside to jump! Side note- in a bizarre twist, our indoor is actually bigger than our outdoor, so we jump inside year-round. There are a couple jumps set up in the outdoor but there’s not enough room for a full course unless it’s 18″-2′. Side note over.
We warmed up over the crossrail (A) a couple times in both directions, then added the long approach up to B. We then built up the course to be: B-C-D-E-F-G. Short and sweet, but full of long approaches and a quarter line. Ouch.
The long approach to B was comfortable since we hadn’t built up full steam. Coming down towards home over the stone wall at C was a little more difficult since we were rolling by that point. I focused on swinging our path out a bit to the right so we could jump it at a slight angle right to left. This got us nice and deep in the corner so we could make the tight turn up the quarter line- even with Trainer’s warning we swung wide up the quarter line the first time through. The quarter line was a comfortable three with a little bit of a woah, and then the long approach down to the skinny green oxer. She did peek at that one a bit so I kept my leg on and kept her straight and we got a good distance right to the base. Then it was leg up the long approach to the red vertical.
After seeing my video last week I decided to focus really hard on sitting up straight to the jumps and getting rid of what Trainer calls “the Virginia Hunter Lean.” She explained to me that we go so much better when I sit deep and drive Addy to the base instead of “allowing” her up to it. She will absolutely carry me over no matter what, but when I sit and drive we get much more comfortable distances and are crazy-adjustable. She was absolutely right- I sat up straight and sat deep, and was actually able to have a much softer ride with Addy. I’ve always had the idea that if I stay light on her back then I can soften with my hands, but it’s totally the opposite. Once I sat down and sat up, she lightened on her forehand, was more responsive to my leg, and didn’t hang on the bit. It was awesome!
Trainer also had us counter-bend around the corners, which made a super huge difference in our tracks. She told us to watch any show-jumping pair: they’re not bending through those rollbacks. They’re doing something that looks more like a turn on the haunches because they’re counter-bending through those tight turns. This was something else that clicked immediately with Addy! I stopped trying to curve her around my leg in the tight corners, and instead focused on keeping her very light on the forehand and straight in her body. She was much more balanced through the turns and it was a way more comfortable ride- no more digging out of corners.
To finish out, Trainer put the quarter line up to 2’9″-3’ish and had me do C-D-E-b-rollback out. Since I’m hoping to do the eq medal she wanted me to practice some of these tight turns.
So another long approach towards home to the stone wall which was very comfortable, then counter-bend around the corner up the quarter line (which was really fun with the jumps up!), and then collect and balance to the other stone wall, then rollback left to the rail and out.
I wish someone had gotten this rollback on video, because it felt perfect. Because I kept her nice and straight through the corner approach and was sitting deep, we pitter-pattered right to the jump so quietly! Seriously, I think that might have been the most energetic collected bouncy canter I’ve ever gotten out of her. We jumped it a little over to the left which wasn’t ideal, but since we were so balanced coming in, the rollback was very easy. Again, we counter-bent through that and behold: no bulging out.
This was a relaxed lesson and the jumps stayed pretty low for most of it, but we don’t need to jump 3′ every single time. I learned so much about how to get the best ride possible out of Addy! It’s like a little recipe:
- Sit deep and straight in the saddle
- Add leg
- Counter bend through the turns
- Release generously with hands
- Voila! You have a soft, adjustable, fancy pony!
I’m out of town again this weekend so I won’t be riding again until Monday, but I can’t wait to get back on and play around some more with my girl.
Does your horse prefer that you get off their back, or do they like you to sit deep and drive? What are your thoughts on using counter-bend like this?