Olivia, you ride a strong horse.

Lesson recap time!

Since the Beast has been making a habit of dragging me around over fences in our last couple lessons, I decided to pop the Pelham in for our lesson yesterday. Ain’t no way I was dealing with that crap any more.

We had a nice warmup WTC, lots of no stirrup work (ow) and lots of work on extending and collecting our canters. I focused on sitting deep in my saddle and squeezing her up into the bridle to attempt to get her to soften into the collection. Definitely a work in progress, but being able to engage that curb rein when she got strong helped a lot. I also made a point of making Addy wait until I gave her the cue to canter. Picking up my reins, changing direction, going around a corner: none of these are cues to canter. She’s gotten much better at waiting instead of anticipating, so I’m going to have to stay consistent with that.

On to jumping! We trotted over a crossrail a couple times and this went surprisingly well- she didn’t try to launch over it, just trotted nicely to the base and cantered away. Very civilized. Then we started building up a course:


Our first was: A-B-C-D-E. Up the stone wall, down the other stone wall/oxer, up the quarter line, and down the oxer. Lots of long approaches!

I was pretty happy with this- Beastly got a little strong in places and took some flyers, but overall was fairly responsive. The quarter line was set to a long 3/short 4, so I just let her open her stride a bit more and carry me for the 3.

We played around with different combos of that for a while, and then gave this course a try: H-F-G-B-C-D-G-B-A. Pink outside vertical towards home, up the outside line in 4, down the stone wall, up the quarter line, down the outside line in 4, up the other stone wall.

Honestly I’m 99% sure we had another course in there somewhere but I already forget so we’ll focus on this. Our first attempt at the first jump was a launcher from downtown because Unicorn got super psyched about it, so we came around and started again. She still got psyched, but we got to a much more reasonable distance. We had to hold a bit going up the outside line because it was set for a short-ish 4, but it wasn’t so bad going away from home. We got nice and close coming down the stone wall, made a nice turn to the quarter line, and recovered our canter nicely around the short end coming to the outside line. This was really tough to fit the 4 in because we were heading towards home, and took a couple tries for me to get it without resorting to the pulley rein, but we got there. Then we got nice and close to the base going up the other stone wall too.

Phew! Overall, I was super happy with this course. It definitely had some sticky moments, but I felt like I was calling the shots instead of climbing up Addy’s neck and hoping she wouldn’t take a flyer. I’ve been really bad about tipping my upper body forward and getting light in the saddle lately. This works in the hunters. This works for lots of horses. This does NOT work on a big ol’ draft cross who gets REALLY excited about jumping. I made a point to sit up, sit deep, keep my leg on, and close my hand to make her wait to the base. Thrusting my hips a little forward and using my core as an anchor made a world of difference in getting Addy’s attention: I finally felt like she was cantering under me and ready to go where I asked instead of carrying me around and occasionally checking to see if I was doin’ OK up there.

My trainer seemed happy with how I rode this too- she liked the quality of our canter between jumps, and was super happy that we waited to the base instead of leaving the stride out. That’s exactly what we want for the jumpers! Pretty Girl has a huge step, so I never want to be that team galloping around trying to make time. We don’t need to do that. If I can get Beastly packaged up under me, we can be efficient with our turns and careful with our jumps. The time will take care of itself if I give my girl a good ride. It was also pretty gratifying because my trainer said to me, “Olivia, you ride a STRONG horse. She will drag you around if you let her. You didn’t let her in that course, and even though it wasn’t perfect, you made the best decisions you could make based on what you had to work with.” I’m still cheesin’ about that one. Addy definitely has been challenging me a lot lately, but I’m so excited that I’ve been able to keep up and continue progressing. I definitely feel like a much stronger rider than I was a couple months ago.

In other exciting news, Beastly and I are going to our first ever rated show!! I’m pretty sure it’ll be her first ever rated show, and my first in roughly 10 years. We’ll be trailering in to HITS Culpeper for one day and doing two jumper classes- level 0 and level 1 (0.8m and 0.9m). I was a little disappointed because I so badly wanted to do the Low Adults (1m) but Trainer made a very good point- this is Addy’s first rated show, and we want to create a good experience for her and not overwhelm her. Does she have the scope for 1m? Absolutely. But there’s going to be so much going on, we’d rather keep the jumps a little lower and have this be a confidence booster for her. We have all the time in the world to move up. I’m glad my trainer reminded me of this, because my tendency is to kinda rush into things. It’s hard to remember that my pretty pony is VERY green when it comes to shows! Anyways, I’d love any advice that y’all have for surviving the jumper ring at HITS.

In even MORE exciting news, I have a brand new pair of Pipers thanks to Allison from Pony’tude!!! They’re in such a cool (discontinued) color and I’m always thrilled to add to my collection. I’ve got a big Smartpak post coming up soon where I talk about all the gear I’ve gotten recently, so keep an eye out for that!

I’ve got another lesson this afternoon, so get pumped for yet another lesson recap tomorrow. Get into it. It’ll be awesome.

21 thoughts on “Olivia, you ride a strong horse.

  1. Erin 07/23/2015 / 11:02 am

    That’s so exciting. I’m trying to piece together what the different levels of showing are down there compared to up here. Rated means bigger, higher level of comp and GP classes? Is there different levels of rated?


    • hellomylivia 07/23/2015 / 9:25 pm

      Bigger, better competition, and a wider variety of classes are definitely part of it- these show grounds with multiple rings can have every hunter/eq/jumper class under the sun. There are different levels with AA being highest and I think it goes down to C. I’m not sure what criteria goes into that! Now I’m curious and must start researching…

      Liked by 1 person

    • hellomylivia 07/23/2015 / 12:21 pm

      Definitely fun! Just enough sassiness to feel like I surmounted a challenge, but not so much that it was frustrating. Perfect balance!


  2. Allison Stitzinger 07/23/2015 / 11:49 am

    So exciting you’re really getting that good canter down!! And YAY so happy you love the breeches! 😀


    • hellomylivia 07/23/2015 / 12:22 pm

      FINALLY getting that canter! We’re slowly but surely getting the feel that my trainer wants- the feeling where jumping a course is just flatwork with a few speedbumps. Slowly. Very slowly.


  3. carey 07/23/2015 / 1:07 pm

    Exciting! The show will be blast!

    I get excited about jumping up at shows too. There are lots of things that need to factor into which classes I do, not just what jump height I want to be jumping 🙂


    • hellomylivia 07/23/2015 / 1:34 pm

      I’m so excited for a new adventure! Definitely lots to factor in, I got blinded for a second by JUMP ALL THE BIG THINGS and then Trainer very nicely reminded me that maybe there are other things to consider haha

      Liked by 1 person

  4. laurelashtonw 07/23/2015 / 4:54 pm

    I’ve only been to HITS Ocala, and I was in hunterland so I don’t really have any advice on that! But it was the biggest horse show facility I’ve ever been to! 7 hunter rings! Is Culpepper big?

    Also, it’s funny my horse is usually strong and feisty but he has been a total slug lately! Reading your post made me miss his pep; hopefully fall will come soon! Good luck at your show!!


    • hellomylivia 07/23/2015 / 9:27 pm

      I actually have no idea how big Culpeper is, but I think I saw that there are 5 rings running on the day I’m going. Woof. I’m so excited to get back into the hustle and bustle of it!
      Haha the pep is such a love/hate type thing, I think I would miss it a ton if Addy decided to be a slug 😉 thanks for the lucky wishes!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • laurelashtonw 07/23/2015 / 9:51 pm

        Haha well I look forward to reading about your show 😉 And yeah, it’s a big adjustment when a forward horse decides to be lazy!


  5. Abby 07/23/2015 / 6:15 pm

    Cool! I’ll be there with my jumpers 🙂 good luck!


  6. Liz Stronach 07/24/2015 / 8:25 am

    Very exciting news about HITS – looking forward to living it vicariously through your blog! Also, what mouthpiece do you have on your pelham?


  7. Karley 07/25/2015 / 12:32 am

    Henry is a strong horse too… I feel your pain!!


  8. emma 07/28/2015 / 10:46 am

    very awesome that you and Addy seem to really be figuring out the canter you need between the fences. that concept keeps getting driven into my head by i still forget it haha. also super exciting about culpeper!!!! your trainer has great points about being careful to set you and Addy up for success and positive experiences – can’t wait to see how it goes!


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2015 / 10:53 am

      My trainer just keeps drilling into me that jumping is flatwork with a couple speedbumps thrown in….very slowly getting the concept! I’m super excited to adventure at Culpeper, and just as excited to share 🙂


  9. Tracy - Fly On Over 07/29/2015 / 8:33 am

    Miles is also non-fussy about bits, but he definitely has a preference and goes best in his happy mouth D. But he did show in a pelham before I bought him!


    • hellomylivia 07/30/2015 / 7:07 am

      I find Addy is the same way- she doesn’t mind anything, but we definitely have better rides with certain bits. So funny that Miles was in a pelham!!


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