JK LOL NOTHING IS SIMPLE EVER
Since Trainer and Assistant Trainer were in Kentucky for the RRP last week (they got 4th and 9th in the 2’6″ Hunter division out of >70 horses! Yay sweet baby TBs!), I was able to fit in a make-up lesson over the weekend. And yes, I’m sore.
We started by flatting around in the outside ring since it was hotter than Hades, but Frankie was a bro about handling the heat. There was a fun groundpole exercise set up with a lot of options:
We started out by trotting straight through down the long side- the goal was to stay super duper straight and bouncy through them, instead of letting the slant force us to drift left or right. I needed to keep my shoulders back and half-halt, and channel through more strongly with leg and hand.
Then we went through all swervy- doing a shallow serpentine down the long side through the “channels” created by the poles. This was a tough one! The key for us was sitting Frankie down on his butt to collect and counter-bending through all those shallow turns. If I didn’t have strong enough outside aids, we got really swervy and overshot a lot.
Next, Trainer put the pairs of poles together to make 4 canter poles set at diagonals down the long side. The catch- they weren’t really set at a real stride length. It forced us to focus on a truly bouncy, adjustable canter so that we could shorten or lengthen as needed to make it through the poles.
So hard! But I’m happy to say that our canter is coming along really nicely, and we were eventually able to bounce on through there with an energetic, collected canter. It was super tricky though to stay straight and not fall in at the end without swapping out, especially to the right- Francis loves himself his left lead.
Then it was time to jump!!! We warmed up over a crossrail and then started doing separate pieces of our course. There were only 6 jumps in the ring, so I knew it would be a simple course HAHAHAHAH PSYCH NO WAY.
Our first exercise was 1-2-3: up the single diagonal, roll back around over the green end jump, and gallop out over the vertical in the combo in a forward 4 strides. Staying nice and straight into the corner after 1 helped give the room to make the turn to 2, and we had to hit the gas and gallop the final stride to 2 so we could keep rolling out over the vertical on the wall.
Next was 4-5-6a-6b-7: outside vertical, down the diagonal, up the combo in one stride, and down the other single diagonal. Not much to say here- we had to rev up out of the corner and ride strongly to 5, the combo came up nicely, and then waiting with my shoulders to get to the base of 7.
After that, we did 8-9-10-11-12: outside vertical, right hand turn to the end jump in 4 strides, back over the outside vertical, then diagonal jump to diagonal jump in a SHORT 2 strides. I needed to power my canter up out of the corner to 10, but surprisingly the 2-stride rode fantastically- we sliced 11 a bit and then sat back hard to fit the two in, but Frankie was super chill about it.
Then we put it all together! 1-2-3-4-5-6a-6b-7-8-9-10-11-12. Who says you can’t make a 13 effort course out of only 6 jumps?! At this point most of the jumps were set to 3’3″-3’6″ish (I think, we all know I’m terrible at judging fence height, but these looked decently big to me), and the oxer out of the combo was definitely the biggest.
Guys. Frankie is such a bro. There were really good pieces and then there were sloppier pieces, but Frankie gave me EXACTLY what I asked for every step of the way. I literally went “woohoo!” over the oxer in the combo since it felt like we were jumping the moon. And proud moment- Frankie had a bit of a stumble about 2 strides out from the final 2-stride and I let the reins slip so he could recover. In the past it would’ve taken us a while to regroup and I would’ve circled, but instead I just kept my leg on and supported him to the base, and the combo rode perfectly. With no reins.
We did go back and come down the single outside vertical a few more times so I could practice riding more strongly and actively to the base, and when I finally got it right I could feel Frankie stretch and use his neck better, and Trainer said he used his whole body over it.
Overall, I really loved getting to do a bigger course. Frankie jumps more strongly once the jumps hit around 3’6″ and that helps my position IMMENSELY- it’s so much easier to hold myself up when he gives me that little *push* out of the saddle. It’s also much easier to see my spots to the bigger jumps, and I feel like I can really gallop Frankie up to the base.
I may have trouble walking the next day because my legs and abs are sore, but that just means I’m actually working my muscles properly! My friend said she got some video, so hopefully she can send that along soon for me to share with you guys 🙂
Do you have any tricks for setting a challenging course with limited number of jumps?