The High Schoolies

I was able to take a makeup lesson this weekend despite the STUPID FREAKIN COLD WEATHER, so of course I jumped at the chance (HAH FUN PUN). I may or may not have asked my Trainer if she was going to cancel lessons the day of, but I bundled up and braved the cold.

This ended up being a group lesson with the three of us competing in the High Child/Adults this season- two of us ammies, and our superstar junior. Despite LOVING my private lessons, this was a great chance to learn from watching some super talented riders- and my trainer was happy she could just put the jumps up and leave them there for the duration of the lesson.

Warmup was slow and steady to get us all accustomed to the cold. We spent the first 20-30 minutes just focused on getting our muscles moving and letting our lungs adjust. Lots of lengthening and shortening within the gaits, with frequent change of rein. Francis didn’t have the same elastic-ness that he often does these days- but can you blame him?? It was disgusting out. Like the total bro that he is, he showed up to work and did his best.

We warmed up slowly over fences too, doing plenty of crossrails to get our backs working. We also did a trot-in-canter-out bending line to play with stride length.

Then it was time for a warmup course with the jumps set low:


Bear with me through this recap, a couple jumps moved/changed. But to start we simply did outside single, diagonal oxer, up the diagonal in a forward three strides, and then down the combo in a balancing two.

That three stride proved to be a really useful exercise for us- Frankie is not naturally a “spicy” horse, so he doesn’t land and rev. Which is totally great in a lot of ways: I never worry about him landing and taking off. BUT. We do want him to land and continue instead of landing and saying “well I hope that’s it for me.” A friend commented that she was really surprised when she rode him because in videos he looks like a pretty forward ride over fences. He is not. He is happy to go forward, but only when told. So having that forward line to practice landing and GOING was something we really needed.

Trainer then put the jumps up to a decent height and we did the following course:


Cut through the quarter line to get to the oxer, up the bending line in a balanced five, down the single oxer, up the forward three, down the combo again- this time with an oxer in- and finishing on the single brick. Or something like this. My video is showing me that I’m wrong, but something like this ended up happening eventually and I already saved the jump diagram, so you’re going to have to deal with the fact that I’m knowingly lying to you.

Overall not too bad! I needed to balance a little more in that five to even out the striding, I didn’t support enough with my leg over the single oxer, we got a bit of a launcher over the oxer into the combo, and Frankie tried to blow through my hand so we ended up popping up a chip to the last jump. So not great either. But manageable. I simply was not as present as I needed to be up top as we navigated the course, so Frankie was left to his own devices a few times. I would defend myself by saying I could feel neither my fingers nor my feet, but let’s be honest: this is a problem even when I have full feeling.

Our last course:


Up the brick to start, down the outside line in a pretty standard three strides, up the bending in the balanced five, down the single oxer, up the forward three, and down the outside 2-stride.

This felt better! Definitely not without some sticky points, but definitely more active and present. We got a nice gallop up to the first brick and then backed up into the short end before revving up to the outside line. Funny enough- we had been doing so many bending lines and singles that Frankie assumed he should turn out of the line. He was happy to continue out over the oxer when I put my left leg on, but that was definitely not his assumption. Balancing around the tight turn back to 4 and then sitting back for the five strides (which was def tight), and then I was thrilled with our straightness and pace to the yellow oxer- for sure our best jump. I got him a little tight to the line and we had to cowboy out for the three (good practice!)- I sat back too soon over the green wall which caused a hind rail- and then we came out pretty nicely in the two- this started feeling tighter and tighter as the jumps went up and we carried more pace, and we knocked the rail the first time through.

OK so we’re not going in the hunter ring, but this is pretty cute as far as Francis-style-jumping goes

We ended up going back one last time to just do the last 4 jumps: the three stride diagonal to the combo. I was happier with our balance and pace there. We came in pretty tight to the combo and still managed to make it out in one piece: our big project is getting Frankie more comfortable with the tight spot and I’m so proud of his progress here!

We then got to watch our superstar junior jump 4’6″ and I was really weirdly proud of her. Not my child, not my horse. But like, I was vicariously jumping that through her and she rocked it with picture perfect eq. I want to be like that 17 year old girl when I grow up.

Overall: we had our sticky spots that we need to work on. I need to be more present and active from the get-go instead of taking a course or two to warm up to it. I need to support Frankie more when I ask for the closer spots, since he will always jump it but is MUCH happier if I help him out. I need to adjust my timing so that I can recover quickly after the jumps, without causing hind rails. Lots of homework.

But my horse also jumped like a freak and kept the same ears-perked-but-also-flopping expression as the jumps went up and up and up. We were able to get out of the sticky spots more quickly and more easily than we could even just two months ago.

One time I can actually comment on height: we know that the wood kickboard sticks at 4′, so clearly the 1.10m will not pose a problem for him.

I sound like a broken record and I sound like a sap, but I’m going to keep saying it: I am incredibly grateful to get to learn and progress with this horse. He’s the most patient and wonderful teacher I could ever ask for and hold on I’m literally crying as I write this because GAWD I’m obsessed with my horse. He is the coolest.

And he be super cute too.

As a treat: here’s the video from our lesson, so you can see said sticky spots. The vain part of me wanted to edit out the icky parts, but hey, THAT’S WHAT INSTAGRAM IS FOR. But actually. Enjoy the honest version here. I will continue to watch this over and over and sob quietly about what a saint my pony is.

Any tips on developing that landing-softly-but-not-too-soon feeling?

20 thoughts on “The High Schoolies

  1. Monica V 01/10/2017 / 9:11 am

    Frankie the Freak is what imma start calling him


  2. carey 01/10/2017 / 11:33 am

    Good boy Frankie 🙂 Nice job with the tight in and cowboy out of the 3!
    Let me know when you figure out how to land softly and not too soon. I think it has something to do with looking up and keeping weight in your heels…or so I’ve heard 😉


    • hellomylivia 01/10/2017 / 2:42 pm

      Somehow I’m pretty sure that our trainer-twins are going to give us homework on this 😉


      • carey 01/10/2017 / 2:46 pm

        One of us is bound to figure it out then!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Abby F 01/10/2017 / 11:36 am

    You guys look great. I can’t believe how far you both have come so quickly! It’s interesting you asked about the landing side of the jump. That was a huge part of my last lesson on Charlie in Florida. I struggle with the landing side of the jump on Charlie and have certainly caused a few rails because of it. Charlie it makes it a little bit more tricky since he loves to play on the landing side of the jump. My best advice for the landing side of the jump is to think about keeping your weight in your feet during the landing and to let your hands follow him all the way to the ground before you try to put him back together. Once he has all 4 feet on the ground, really use your shoulders to get him back together. My big problem is I try to get Charlie back together with my hands before I use my position and I interrupt the canter rhythm. Actually, I learned even more about this watching the horse mastership clinic that Beezie was doing in Wellington last week. She talked a lot about using your position to help you on the landing side of jumps and it just reiterated everything my trainer had said to me in our last lesson.


    • hellomylivia 01/10/2017 / 2:47 pm

      It’s funny you say that- my trainer’s latest focus with us has been my shoulders for exactly that reason, relying on my position to get the job done instead of getting handsy. I missed the live cast, but I need to watch Beezie’s session!
      Unrelated: I’m so excited to see how you and Charlie do in FL!!! Can’t wait to vicariously enjoy the sun through your pics haha


      • Abby F 01/13/2017 / 10:22 am

        Thanks!! I’m excited too! I leave a week from tomorrow with my new horse Parker and two polo ponies. Charlie is already down there and showing with trainer. I’m super excited to show Charlie AND to show/train/watch trainer show the new kid!


  4. L. Williams 01/10/2017 / 11:45 am

    Private lessons are great, but getting to watch and learn from others is a whole nother world of fun.


  5. Nicole Sharpe 01/10/2017 / 2:31 pm

    Hmm I know what you mean about the soft landings. I sometimes feel like I’m so on top of them and others I am just slamming my horse down.

    I loved the video – Frankie looks like such fun to ride!


    • hellomylivia 01/10/2017 / 2:43 pm

      Yeah I feel like sometimes I get it and other times it’s out the window. Gotta figure out how to be more consistent. And he’s a total blast!!!!


  6. Tracy - Fly On Over 01/10/2017 / 3:32 pm

    Sometimes Frankie’s jump reminds me a little bit of Miles’ — he loses momentum in the air, so that sometimes when you land, you have to add leg or he starts to peeter out. You’re much better at keeping your leg on than I am, so it’s not nearly as bad as what happens to Miles and I, but it’s interesting!


    • hellomylivia 01/10/2017 / 3:35 pm

      You’re dead on! I reeeeally need to keep my leg on over the fences because he totally tends to lose momentum otherwise


  7. Stacie Seidman 01/10/2017 / 11:26 pm

    Awww, I love him ❤ He looks so fun! You guys are killing it over the bigger jumps! Just wait until you get to jump in a bigger ring!
    So I can't actually do this currently since I haven't jumped since September… But to help with the landing, the trick is to make sure your'e really stretching your leg down around your horse in the air (while still using it… easy as pie right?!). If your weight is down around your horse and through your heel, when you open your hip angle back up upon landing, your weight is already down in your tack, not up by his ears through your upper body.
    Or you could do what I do which is open up way too early so your'e pretty much sitting by the time they land. But then you'll have all the rails down, so that's probably not the way to go 😉


    • hellomylivia 01/11/2017 / 3:11 pm

      Thank you for outlining it like this!!! You know I love my math, thinking about the angles and weight distribution is really helpful.


  8. Heather 01/11/2017 / 1:38 pm

    You guys look really great!

    I’m gonna be honest here. The best thing for landing softly but not in a puddle of goo or pulling a back rail is building up strength, in my experience at least. So option a) is ride a bunch of horses every day and build that strength just by doing. Back when I was a working student riding 8 horses a day, I never had trouble staying in a good place for the duration of the fence. Option b) is working out. Lots of leg days and lots of ab days and just getting all of your muscles stronger, so that you can use your whole body to stay balanced over the fence and through the back side of the jump. What everyone else said is completely true, but those things are all going to be so much easier if you have the strength to do them well. Working out was the best thing I did for my position all of last year. I have a book of short but tough workouts I’m happy to send if you’d like it!

    But strength aside, I try to think about using my whole leg, and not just one part to stay in the middle and be effective. Yes, you need to sink in your heels, but you also have to think about wrapping around with the whole of your leg. If you hold on just with the top/inside of your thigh, you’ll pinch at the knees. If you just jam your heel down, you’re apt to get it too far in front of you, or have no contact through your leg, which makes it hard to squeeze your horse across. And then once you nail all of that you still have to think about tightening your core to resist sitting up or falling back.

    Basically, it’s a whole body endeavor, and as Anne K. said in her clinic “if you can’t control your own body, good luck controlling your horse!” I will add that even though I know all of this in theory, I super struggle with it sometimes too.


    • Heather 01/11/2017 / 1:38 pm

      aaaan I wrote a novel. Womp.

      Liked by 1 person

    • hellomylivia 01/11/2017 / 3:13 pm

      Have I told you lately you great you are? Because it’s true. This is the best novel I’ve read in a good long time. And I totally agree- I can get the right feeling some of the time, but I don’t think I have the necessary strength to get it with any sort of consistency. Any tips you have from those short/tough workouts would be much appreciated!!!


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