I was… super excited for my lesson on Tuesday. I felt like things were really coming together for us lately, and we officially signed up for a local combined test in a couple of weeks. (Straight to BN this year!) I figured it would be a good outing before our first recognized horse trial.
I got on… and my right knee was kind of bothering me. It’s an old injury that I think I aggravated by running around in heels all weekend. I convinced myself it would be fine because I would be sitting. I did not account for the fact that my horse is wider than the Nile right now. Soooo my knee was kind of torques AROUND my horse whenever I sat… which was made worse by the physical act of closing my leg…
I warmed up quickly and mostly in 2 point. May was fine but on the muscle. It has been in the 60s here during the day, but at night it is dropping down near freezing with plenty of wind. That on top of not sticking to the 4 – 5 day a week schedule that May does best on, meant I had a fairly hyped up pony under me.
We warmed up through the grid we did last lesson, and she skipped right through it without an issue. Except, when I first asked her to canter, she kind of tried to take off with me. Ah… ha…. you know what you should do when your horse tries to run away with you? Sit deep and close leg. You know did NOT feel good? Sitting deep and closing my leg. Awesome.
So it was fine. I managed it and the grid was good. (except, May kept insisting on forcibly SPLASHING into the puddle right before the last jump. That jarring feeling felt great.) I asked Mandy if we could just do a couple of courses a couple of times to prep for the CT. She agreed that was a good idea. (Mandy is in Aiken now until then, so this was our last real prep time.)
The course wasn’t too complicated. Single Vertical, skinny to oxer diagonal line. Quick turn to a one stride, quick left turn around to a bending 5 stride line and finishing over a vertical. 8 jumps. Each round of it is in the video at the bottom.
And… I got over 2 of them and then pulled up. Why did I pull up? Because taking your leg off, leaning forward, and throwing yourself at a 2’3″ box is not how you start a course.
We talked about it… Mandy reminded me that I know how to ride. And I tried again. We got to jump 3… where I just didn’t get a good feeling and pulled up. Do you know what I was doing at that point? I was basically training my horse to ignore my leg. Adorable.
The issue was that we were losing the balance. When we lose the balance and I close my leg, May just scrambles… her feet move FASTER but she doesn’t cover anymore ground. In fact, I would argue she covers LESS ground.
We went back and actually got almost through the course this time. But both of us were like… frantic. Part of this is because… I had been riding in my glasses and I forgot them. In that time of dusk, I can barely see. When I couldn’t really see, I was just leaving the gas pedal on and hoping we would “get there.” Finally, May was so scrambly by the 7th fence that she didn’t feel comfortable giving me the long spot (especially when I leaned) and we chipped HARD and took down basically the entire fence.
At this point, Mandy started troubleshooting for me. The next round became “just go straight”, and we had a straight (but under powered) course. I missed coming to the last fence, and May took it. Buuuut still a big improvement over the times before.
Then we added the power back. Go straight, close your leg on the last stride, over the fence, and on the two landing strides after the fence. Other than that, JUST BREATHE.
And you know what? May settled. There were a couple of times where she went to get scrambly on me, but I took a breath and she came back. Finally, we were able to put together a full course. And it was… mostly good. The blue line still didn’t ride great for us, but I finally got her forward but balanced. It was a victory, and we ended on that note.
Was it the lesson I wanted before a show? No. Was it the lesson I probably needed? Yes. May doesn’t need me to rev the engine every second of every course, but she does need me to remind her to keep the energy moving forward. Bad lessons = great shows… right?