Kick Ride or Nah?

I had totally forgotten about this, but someone recently reminded me that Frankie was used in a few ammy lessons while I was out of town a few months back. And I only just found out that the person riding him in one of these lessons struggled over some of the jumps.

Of course my first reaction was to worry that my horse had done something bad (which would be very out of character), so I started apologizing to her. Luckily, she quickly reassured me that he didn’t offer any misbehavior, she was just caught by surprise. I’ll paraphrase what she said here:

“From when I’ve seen you riding, I expected Frankie to be a really forward ride to the jumps. So when we got to a crossrail and he lurched over it from a crawl, I was totally caught off guard and got unbalanced. I didn’t expect him to need so much leg to the jump.” To which my trainer responded, “Any of that energy is entirely rider-generated, he doesn’t really think to go anywhere.”

First off, I totally can’t blame her for struggling. Frankie lurches something awful over the smaller jumps and it can be really hard to stay with the motion. It’s much much much easier to go with him over the bigger jumps as he puts more effort in.

We also had one of our Pony Moms up on Frankie for a quick ride recently- he was PERFECT for her and I’m def gonna be pressuring her into doing some pleasure classes with him next fall because seriously #adorable. Trainer saw her riding and smiling about Frankie being so good, and laughed, “He’s lazy, right?”

So it got me thinking. I usually think of Frankie as a fairly forward ride- he’s got a nice open stride and I never have to kick to keep him going, even if he isn’t hot or “up” by any stretch of the imagination (HAH!).

But. We do like to find a spot to get a gallop going before our first fence. And we focus a lot on sitting back and driving up out of the corners.  And he does require a lot of support from my leg to remind him that he needs to put some effort in. He’s a tattletale when it comes to effort: he will always go to the jump, but the quality of his effort directly correlates to the amount of work his rider is doing. Balanced, clear aids + strong leg = shmancy powerful Francis. Weak/nonexistent aids + no leg = strung out, lurchy Francis. It’s very easy to tell when I’m not supporting him like I need to.

Exhibit A: Not a crappy spot. But I took my leg off so it was a crappy jump.
Exhibit B: Tight distance with a swap off- crappy spot. But a little leg made him press across the jump better- not a crappy jump.

So I wouldn’t really call him a “kick ride” OR  a “woah ride.” I’d call him a “leg ride.” As long as my leg is on and present, we can ask for forward and receive it. And the more fit he gets and the stronger my leg is able to be, the more “spice” we are getting to the jumps- I’m starting to feel him really lock on and carry me up to it. This is pretty much my ideal ride at this point in my riding career- having a blast galloping up to the jumps while feeling very safe knowing that Frankie will always coast to a stop when asked. He’s truly a confidence booster and teacher in the best possible way.

What’s your favorite kind of ride?