There is no media from my lesson last night. Why? Because daylight savings time ended and that meant I was jumping under the lights. Ugh. Really not my favorite, but luckily, we have lights!
May and I haven’t jumped at all since our horse trial a couple of weeks ago, and honestly, I haven’t been doing many serious rides. Instead, we’ve done some hacking, including helping a barn mate go on her first ride in a few months. So when I loaded May up with her jumping gear, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. Would she be in front of my leg? Would she move off my outside aids?
As usual (and more on this in a minute), I was overthinking everything. I hopped on May and she was forward and light and responsive, so we had a nice short warm-up before we got to the jumping exercise.
First up – canter poles! These little devils were slightly raised poles set at 9′ apart from one another. And wow, I am so happy we started with them. Why? Because apparently MY theme of the night was changing our step and rhythm every single stride leading up to any fences. May was so tuned in that she was coming back to me when I balanced and really taking forward when I put my leg on… This sounds great. Except when you go to balance, the step gets shorter, so you panic and kick them forward… where they then overshoot the distance. Cool.
So the theme for the night ended up being a lesson in setting my step in the corners and just maintaining to the fences.
In a total surprise to no one, I struggled with the canter poles. I finally got the right feel, and we moved onto the next exercise: a line of six one stride crossrails. They were set at 22′, so a bit shorter than standard. They were also set up SPECIFICALLY to either start or end in a puddle. Mandy is an Evil Genius.
The first time through, we went towards home, going through the puddle. It was awful. We got a nice two strides to the last crossrail… The second time… not much better… I think we FINALLY nailed it on the third time. So Mandy took pity on me and put them up. Once they were set at like 2’3″ verticals, it rode a lot easier. I LOVE these kinds of gymnastics because once you are in them it is like “oh this is what jumping is supposed to feel like” hahaha.
I was especially happy because the turn to the gymnastic was a left hand turn away from the barn, so there was a lot of opportunity for May to try and throw her right shoulder through me. But she didn’t! I would just check in on the outside rein, and she swung her shoulder around without losing much step. PROGRESS.
Since that was… actually pretty easy. We moved onto course work. The one stride gymnastic, left turn and down a five stride line. There really wasn’t much I would’ve changed that first go-round. I got maybe a touch deep to the in of the 5 stride line. BUT it was set steady and the in was a panel jump, so she jumped it well. It also allowed me to just maintain down the shorter line, even coming towards home.
For the next course, we did the same first 3 jumps. Then we made a right turn to a one stride, vertical to vertical. This one stride was set on a true 24′, so a bit more forward than the gymnastic at the beginning. Right after the one stride, we had to make a sharp right turn to an oxer. That was supposed to be a triple bar, but I didn’t want to die in the dark.
After that, we had to make a sharpish left turn in between parts of the one stride, around to a bending 6 or 7 stride line (depending on your line). We finished up with a right turn and a LONG approach to a two stride similar to the one from our show.
So how did it go? The first part of the course rode great. I got a better distance to the in of the 5 stride line, so had to steady coming down it. May listened so the oxer jumped great. I got off her back and rode FORWARD to the vertical one stride. NAILED IT.
So excited about nailing it that I totally forgot to turn to the oxer. Oops. Got a weird line and a weird distance. But then… took the inside turn to the left… I don’t know why. Just wanted to. This BRILLIANT set up, meant that May was cross cantering. A quick transition to fix that (good girl) and… I saw nothing coming into the bending line.
Like a true adult ammie… I then DID nothing. So.. the distance was a bit shoddy. I then… decided to ride the line for six strides with a seven stride canter… Yeah. It didn’t work, and we kind of crawled over the oxer out. ugh. So… I KICKED her up in front of my leg and 100% panicked to the two stride.
Remember how I started the lesson changing my rhythm every single stride? Yeah… I did the same thing here, except decided to FLOOR IT three strides out. So I took a FLYER into the two stride. May is a good mare and just did the thing.
So… clearly Mandy wasn’t SUPER pleased with that. So we did the second half again. The one stride was great. I made a better turn to the oxer. A good left turn… and then, I rode the six stride step on the seven stride line through the bending line… cool. Honestly, I jumped it, we took two strides. I saw six… but was like… we should do seven. So I pulled. Ugh. Should’ve just ridden what I saw.
It resulted in another chip, but at least this was a FORWARD chip. The two stride rode better because I just CHANTED my rhythm the whole way to it. Funny how that works.
No surprise to anyone, Mandy wanted me to fix the bending line. “Tell me now, are you doing six or seven strides?” I decided on seven. And you know what? I rode a REALLY good step in. Like I could’ve tightened the line and gotten six or gone a bit wide and gotten seven. But I was committed to seven, so I pushed her out a bit, balanced her up and got a GREAT last jump over the oxer on the out.
Final thoughts? May felt great. I am still getting used to riding a horse that is so forward thinking and adjustable. I need to just set my pace and sit a bit chilly. Doing nothing is HARD. Also… my legs were pretty fatigued last night. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t fully recovered from my last “run”, but it was cool to feel how those new muscles are developing.
Also, Mandy needs an award for putting up with me. More on that in the next post. But my next horse should probably be named “Overthinking” or “Existential Crisis.”