For some reason, I didn’t make the intelligent decision to reschedule my regular Tuesday night lesson to Monday… you know… the day when I was actually off of work and it was in the 50s and mostly sunny? Nope, Didn’t do that. So when Tuesday started cold and raining, I was a bit discouraged. I really wanted to get in at least one more jump school before my trainer went off to Aiken for a couple of weeks.
Luckily, the temps stayed above freezing and the rain tapered off my early afternoon. So when I pulled into the barn, I saw another jump lesson going on, and I threw on all my jump equipment and got out there. I always find it helpful to watch at least a little of the lesson before mine because, even when the jumps don’t move, exercises often change a lot from week to week. (so enjoy the darkish video and blurry pics, but at least there is media! Thanks to my barn family!)
During our last lesson, we focused a lot on the grid through the middle of the arena. While I didn’t blog about it, I did post about it on instagram. May was a total rockstar in the grid and over the course. Our only hiccup came from the skinny barrels, but we worked through it.
(First of all, check out that lead change from the pink to the oxer. We cross cantered a step, but hey! lead changes!)
So this lesson, despite the grid still being set up, Mandy wanted us to work on a different skill set. This time, we were working on bending and making good turns to get square to fences without losing the step or impulsion. This exercise was especially helpful because May was convinced her tail was on fire. (Also of note, I shortened my stirrups a hole after seeing the last video. I do think it helped.)
This exercise involved a left turn to an oxer, a quick right turn to a vertical and then a swooping left turn to an oxer. We were able to do it the first time, with May putting in an awesome effort over both oxer, but she really blew me off going to the vertical. She wouldn’t bend right and then popped her shoulder left and landed on the right lead. Ooook so we did it again, and it was better buuuuut she was still throwing her body left over the fence. When she throws her body left, she HAS TO land on the right lead.
So we spent a good amount of time just fixing that response. She needed to bend right around the turn but also take the cue from my outside aids to straighten out as we turned to the fence. It took… more attempts than I wanted to make, but we did get it done!
So then me and Mandy made a deal, she would give us one course, and we would go out and do it. Why just one course? Because I was damn near crippled from joining a new gym (more on that later). But also because I wanted to test the waters of doing a warm up and then just going and doing a course, even with a fairly fresh mare who decided half halts are voluntary.
The course, shown below, wasn’t crazy complicated, but as usual, it was a course that really tested the details. It started and ended with question that tested your line, rhythm, and accuracy. Fun times.
The course starts with the skinny chevron… which we have done once before. then a swooping left turn to the blue oxer. Again, a deceptive question. the blue oxer is set a bit oddly off the corner, so you have to go into the corner and STICK TO THE RAIL before squaring off to it for the last couple of strides. Then an open five strides to the skinny box.
So in the first three jumps, you have to use three different canters while maintaining your step (to get down the five) and your accuracy (skinny, oxer, skinny). But it keeps going! Then it was a right turn to the vertical. Again, a weird line. Too deep into the corner at the end of the ring, and you get a LONG fun up to an airy vertical. But if you cut it too early, you slice the oxer and risk missing the turn to the next fence. So it forced you to ride almost on the quarter-line and then square up.
A sharpish left turn to the pink and gray vertical. Followed by a fairly long stretch and long approach to a big square oxer (fun fun fun). Looping left turn to the purple and blue oxer (now bigger), followed by a tight right turn to the skinny, standing barrels with no standards. WHEW!
So how did it go?I posted the full video of the lesson below with video, but the first half is in this post.
We got all the way to the base of the chevron, which I was super happy about since it is still a new question to her. Then I nailed the blue oxer to the blue box. I was super happy with how she stretched up over the blue oxer, landed in a good balance, and just moved forward down the line.
I got a good, but long, line to the pink and green vertical. During the approach, she got a bit scrambly with me. When she is up like this, instead of really collecting the canter, she just puts her feet down faster. It’s a really odd feeling… and if you listen with the sound up a bit, you will hear me yell “you cow!” over that one. Why? Because after spending a chunk of our lesson getting her to get off my left leg and land on her left lead after this one… when it went up… she tried to throw her body through my left leg again. Luckily, I made the correction and she landed on the left lead.
Our turn to the pink and gray was ok, but not great. She wanted to run at it, I wanted her to wait. So we met it on a slightly short stride. I let her move out a bit around the end of the ring. When we turned to the oxer, she locked onto it before I really squared her up and had her balance back where I wanted it. This discussion led to a bit of a chip. But because her balance was up, she jumped it fine.
You can see that she jumped through my left leg again and landed cross firing and corrected to the left lead. Now I had a decision to make. Do I keep the counter canter (Totally doable), or do I correct to the true lead through a simple transition? I made the decision to correct the lead for a couple of reasons: I really wanted her to move off my left leg since after the next oxer came an accuracy question, I needed to reestablish my half halt (see previous comment about SKINNY JUMP WITH NO STANDARDS coming up), and I had plenty of time to make the transition happen and get my rhythm back.
So I made it happen, and it was the right decision. The purple and blue jumped great, and I had to quickly get her to soften and collect to go to the barrels. Again, instead of really collecting, she just got stabby with her legs, but it was enough to keep her straight and true over the barrels.
Overall, I was super happy with the ride. Most of my issues came from her not taking my input vs. me not making decisions. We did end up redoing the pink and green to pink and gray to orange oxer, and it got better (but not great). In all, it was a super great lesson, and I feel super about our readiness to tackle BN even stronger this year.
Oh as for the new gym thing, I guess I joined Crossfit. My body is sore. And the 4:50AM wakeup call the day after this lesson was… not my friend, but so far, it’s been a nice addition to my week. Shout out to Cob Jockey for walking me through it!