The running joke between my trainer and me is that I have had some sort of PTSD from our show jumping round at Kent. Sure, I pulled it mostly together for Burgundy Hollow and XC doesn’t seem to phase me at all anymore. However, I have been fighting the undeniable desire to either pick or chase May to pretty much every jump in my path.
Then, like a true AA, I jump all the way up the neck. Perhaps some of you with fancy horses with Long Necks are like “well of course, that’s what the neck is there for!” (to my non-riding readers, that is not what the neck is there for) May has a very short and very round neck. Therefore, flinging my body onto it over the fences has the same effect as trying to belly-flop onto a yoga ball. May saves me anyway, but it is definitely a habit to work on.
Over the course of the last 3 weeks, I have focused more on my Dressage and jumping one or two smaller jumps. The focus has been to not change May’s rhythm and not throw myself up her neck. However, I realized that I would have to take a real jump lesson before our clinic on the 26th. Because again, me falling off in clinics is not something that my trainer takes pride in.
So we lessoned! My trainer had set up a simple grid for everyone, which was perfect to deal with the aforementioned belly flopping tendencies. It also was set up for May to trot into. May was not a fan of trotting into it. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that drafts can’t be catty. They can, they just need proper motivation. In this case, May realized that the grid was easier if she cantered into it, so she managed to find a way to canter through the trot poles without hitting any of them and jumping through the grid. I am oddly proud and dismayed at the same time.
She did do it a couple of times correctly, and my trainer figured it would be better to pull together a full course than drill the grid. Below is our first attempt at it, and it ended up being our last attempt at the full course. I rode. I kept my body back, and May did a great job in staying balanced and in front of my leg without dragging me.
The first jump was a pink vertical off the short side. The trick was to keep May’s balance up without changing our pace around the corner. Mission accomplished. Then we had to come back to the trot to go through the grid. The trot needed to be forward enough that she would make the pace through the grid without being so forward that she cantered through the poles. I actually thought she looked quite fancy with that trot.
The grid was good. I kept my face out of her mane and she landed fairly balanced. (instead of dropping her shoulder and charging through the corner) We tripped a bit coming to the liverpool, so I opted to keep it steady and ride to the base instead of chasing her for the flier. Notice, I said steady not pick until the horse has no stride left and then jump up her neck. May even corrected her lead after the liverpool. I say corrected not changed because I am about 90% sure she landed cross cantering.
The one stride was ok. We lost our rhythm coming around the corner and just didn’t get a great distance in. Then, on the way out, May took a solid peak at the filler, which she hasn’t jumped before. (See below for a still shot of that Kodak moment) No big deal, but we did do it a couple more times. Of course the second time, since she took a look, I chased her through the distance on the first jump and she had to shove the worlds smallest stride in between. My trainer made one of those half laughing half horrified noises and told me to do it again and just stop doing things. I did, and it rode perfectly. Go figure.
We ended on that because while we were out of the heat of the day, it was still quite humid and May was done. She got a quick hose off, but as you can see, she is desperately in need of a proper bath. Maybe this weekend. Either way, I think I can declare my PTSD over with and my confidence truly on the mend!