Lesson Recap: The Sweet Spot

We managed to squeeze a lesson in on Wednesday before Frankie shipped down to Culpeper and it was great!

We kept the flatwork pretty short and to the point- it was stupid hot out and there was a thunderstorm threatening to break right overhead. Frankie was definitely lazy to start off- meaning that he reeeeally wanted me to carry him around the ring instead of carrying himself- but to his credit, he showed up to work and put in some effort as we got going.

Then we did our super fun warmup exercise of Trot Every Jump In The Ring All At Once. Four horses. Tiny indoor. A tad chaotic. But really good practice for the warmup ring at shows! Frankie woke right up when he realized it was almost time for zoomies, so we had to go back and actually TROT THE JUMP NO CANTER NOT YET a couple times.

And then it was too hot to do a 2’6″ warmup course like we usually do so Trainer just jacked a bunch of them up to 3’ish (I think? We all know I’m the actual worst at figuring out how big jumps are. They’ll look really big at the time but then I’ll review videos and be like huh that’s actually kinda small. Who knows).


First course: long approach down to the box at A, up the oxer, down the single diagonal, up the outside, down the quarter line. Super straightforward. Lots of single, unrelated distances which is really where Frankie and I shine. I’ll sometimes push through the distance to the base, but we can pretty consistently see the spot from a long approach. It’s those darn lines that I have trouble with- do I ask him to package more? Open up? One then the other- no definitely not that. We also experimented with taking the inside turn (turning before E and C) to come to A, which was plenty of room to maneuver.

And then we got fun! Coming off the left lead to rollback over A, immediately turn right and rollback over the oxer at B, up the quarter line, down C to F in a broken four, up the outside at D.

That S-turn to start actually went surprisingly well. I don’t know why I’m surprised- my horse is pretty darn good at his job- but it was pleasant. Not particularly pretty, but serviceable. The quarter line to the bending four was where we had to go back and try again. The quarter line was a forward three away from home and came up nicely every time. But then I had to rock him back and get in close to the red vertical because the broken four was TIGHT. We had another smaller horse do it in 3. Trainer and I decided that we needed to school the add though, because Francis jumps much better and more cleanly from that tighter spot.

This took a couple times through to really correct. I needed to land off the red and IMMEDIATELY sit deep and package that stride. A.k.a. I really needed to use that auto-release so I could land with a feel on his mouth. The last time through felt really good- I was able to leg him up to the base of the out instead of holding all the way through.

The single vertical on the outside was fine. Because singles are my jam.

Takeaways: the spot I get Francis to VERY much affects how he jumps. He is not like Addy, who tucked neatly and jumped a 10 every time. Frankie needs to get a little deep (but not too deep) to the base, and needs a lot of support from my leg in order to get a good clean effort. Some examples here:

Still hanging his legs, but much less “pop”-y when we don’t get buried at the base
Same jump. Same height. Different distances. Different breed of animal: alpaca vs. horse.

And then just because I think he’s really cute:


Here’s the compilation of our coursework from this week:

Looking at this, I see a couple things: I need to work on my release. I’m just not happy with that at all. I also need to wait with my shoulders and stop trying to jump for Frankie. Let him jump up to me. In fact, I’m picking apart most of my eq and have lots of homework for myself.

But I’m also very happy with the improvements I see: I’m able to get a good quality canter more quickly that has better energy. I’m able to get clean lead changes in both directions, even if I have to ask pretty firmly. Frankie is able to power up and over the jumps even from awkward distances, because he has great muscle and athleticism. The awkward distances are less frequent and less awkward than they used to be.

So overall I’m happy with our progress. We still have a ways to go to suit my perfectionist tendencies, but we are on our way!

By the time you’re reading this, I’ll likely already be done with my first trip- we decided to add a 0.90m class first thing (8am gross) to let Frankie stretch his legs and see what energy level we’re working with. Later today I’ll be doing the first class of the Low division- hopefully I can rope a barn rat into filming both trips. Can’t wait to report back on To Be Frank’s second outing!

How much does your distance to a fence affect how your horse jumps? Are they more like Addy (affects it relatively mildly) or more like Frankie (affects it dramatically)?

8 thoughts on “Lesson Recap: The Sweet Spot

  1. emma 08/19/2016 / 12:24 pm

    video is private but the stills are cute! good luck with the show 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kaity C 08/19/2016 / 7:37 pm

    Distance = dramatic. And potential to not jump at all, because baby horse brain shuts down sometimes. Good luck this weekend!


    • hellomylivia 08/23/2016 / 10:39 am

      I definitely think this is a huge thing for baby horses! They’re still learning that jumping is supposed to be fun 🙂


  3. Tracy - Fly On Over 08/23/2016 / 7:39 am

    I love reading lessons where people have “aha!” moments, like you did here with the distance. Plus, the contrasting pics are pretty freaking cool.


    • hellomylivia 08/23/2016 / 10:40 am

      It was definitely an “aha!” Like, I already knew it, but it didn’t really click until now, if you know what I mean.


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