We had a great lesson! Hallelujah! I needed that. I’m naturally a very optimistic person and I don’t tend to let things get to me, but I was starting to wonder if this was the end of my short and lackluster stint as A Very Adequate Adult Jumper.
Seriously Olivia, cut the dramatics and ride the damn horse.
Flatwork was great etc etc etc lots of no stirrup work etc etc etc (actually though I rode with some of our juniors and Trainer inflicts SO much more no-stirrup work on them than she does on us weakling ammies).
THEN JUMPING. Professional diagram incoming:
Our warmup was to simply trot everything in the ring. There were 3 of us that made this pretty manageable, and Francis was very nonchalant about all of it. I mean, he’s nonchalant about everything, but still.
We started by working on 1 to 2: trotting in over the crossrail, then bending out over a little oxer in 6 or 7. This was really hard! There were enough track options and jumps in the way that either the 6 or the 7 could be a totally accurate choice, but you had to know which one you were going for and ride that plan. Outside leg outside leg outside leg. After several weakling gross looking 7 stride tries, we got our butts in gear and went for the more aggressive 6. Sooo much better.
Then we did 3 to 4: canter in over the outside vertical and then out over the stone wall in 4 or 5. This was another toughie- the horses tended to get sucked out to the wall which forced the track wide, making the 5 a better option. But if you could swing out into your corner without stalling, you could power across 3 and go more direct in 4. The trick there was outside leg HARD around that corner to 3, because it comes up really fast out of the turn and you needed to be scooting. This was another case of do-it-weakly-a-bunch-then-realize-your-horse-is-a-jumper-and-you-can-ask-for-more-power-and-do-it-in-a-galloping-4. You know, that kinda thing.
Then our course: 1-2-3-4-5-6a-6b. Trotting in the crossrail bending out over the oxer, up the broken 3-4, down the wall, then up the two-stride. Trainer had me drop my stirrups after the wall before I got to the two stride because she’s a masochist, but that’s neither here nor there.
The two bending lines were ehhhh fine. Not stellar but workable. Then we gangsta leaned around the turn to the wall, I flopped my feet out of the stirrups, then popped up the two stride. That combo is set basically one stride off the turn and it’s long, so the trick there was WAIT FOR IT outside leg and pressing hard into it so you didn’t get an icky little third stride in there.
Sensing a theme here?
Trainer then popped the jumps up a little bit and had me do 2-4-2-6a-6b. Up the oxer bending out in 4, back down over the oxer the other way (it was a Swedish), then up the combo, again without stirrups.
Now this was more like it. Outside leg and stabilizing outside rein into the first oxer, with an opening rein that let us get a nice direct open four strides 4. Then I actually engaged my left leg and sat evenly in my saddle and LO AND BEHOLD THE HEAVENS OPENED UP AND ANGELS SANG.
But for real though. I could ride straight and BOOM LEAD CHANGE then BEND through my turn and I had SO MUCH MORE TIME* to figure out exactly what pace I wanted so that coming around to the brick wall, we had options. It wasn’t just accepting whatever came up out of the turn.
*I didn’t actually have more time- the number of seconds that elapsed from landing off 4 around to the brick were pretty much the same. It just felt sooo much more organized and intentional.
Then sitting Francis on his butt and getting a nice bouncy canter let us get up out of that turn so we could press across and out the combo.
UGH. YES. The pieces are starting to come together.
I think a big part of this is retraining my perspective from DragonMare to BrontosaurusRex. With Addy, getting to the base meant holding. Hold hold hold to the base, otherwise she would blow through to a dangerously long distance or just nope out altogether. Frankie is quite different- he will jump from anywhere. I don’t need to manage him mentally. So if we want the nice close jumper-y distance, I need to ride UP to that distance.
I’m still looking for that nice close spot that makes him jump carefully and sets us up for a civilized landing, but the way I mentally approach that distance is pretty much the opposite now. I’m still sitting deep and keeping my shoulders back and mashing my horse together so that we can compress the stride; I need that compressed stride to have some FIRE in it.
He is a Land Rover: he can happily handle rough terrain and is super duper dependable. But he does not have the sensitivity of a Ferrari. He will totally rev up and get going and attack the jumps IF I tell him to. Instead of being a calming influence, I need to be an energetic influence.
And I’ll probably continue with the no-stirrup work too to keep tightening up…
We’re headed to our first show in less than 3 weeks and I am ITCHING to get out there and compete. And then I’m itching to tell you guys all about it 😉