You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo
Is that really where this quote come from? Never seen thee movie and somehow this quote is stuck in my head. Either way, I needed my ten seconds of insane courage in this week’s lesson.
The main goal of this lesson was to get a recording of me jumping the course for our next virtual show (success! but more on that later). Of course, there are training opportunities outside of just jumping courses, so we started with those.
Up first was an exercise on rhythm. 3 canter cavalettis set as bounces and then a straight line to a small vertical. The goal was to set up the rhythm to successfully get through the bounces and then carry that same rhythm to the vertical. The first time through was fine, but it lacked a bit of balance. The next time through, we nailed it.
My favorite part of that exercise was that it really encouraged you, as the rider, to stay really soft. Set the rhythm and then just maintain. Which, if you’ve read this blog at all, you know is something that I massively struggle with. Of course, an easy exercise on balance and rhythm should totally be followed up by a harder exercise on balance and rhythm. Right?
So the next grid was set up… a bounce, 2 strides to an oxer, 2 strides to a bounce, 2 strides to an oxer. Man, this thing scared the pants off me. Typically, May and I make up distances by really jumping ACROSS things. With the bounces, a lot of that momentum was lost.
We went through it a few times getting 3 stride in-between elements. While not technically correct, I was really happy with our balance and with May really rocking back and pushing off vs. just jumping over her shoulder in the tight spots. Finally, on attempt maybe 5? We got the proper two strides. While I am sure that Mandy would have liked me to do it again, I officially declared my confidence bucket empty and asked if we could move on. And move on we did.
The course for this month’s virtual show was a bit different than last month. It gave us a bit more time to get going before any related distances. Again the related distance was four strides, but it had a slightly better set up for us, so I was pretty confident in our ability to do it justice.
(yes, there is a typo. For novice and above it was supposed to be 2 strides from 7a to 7b). First thought, gosh there are a lot of jumps that you jump twice. Better not knock those down! Other than that though, I thought it would be a good course for us.
The goals were pretty simple. Keep that forward step. Finish the turn and get super straight to one. Make an efficient turn to 2, so that we don’t end up staring down at it for 7 strides. Maintain the rhythm and fix any balance issues on the loooooong haul to 3. Get my eye on 4 early and use my outside aids to really pivot her onto that line quickly.
Don’t turn too soon to get to 5. Keep my rhythm and pace to jump ACROSS 6, while also opening my outside rein slightly to keep her straight to get 4 strides to 7. Rebalance to 8 and maintain the rhythm while getting super square to 9. Whew!
Here is how it went!
Overall, it felt very decisive. I felt like, for the most part, I made decisions where I needed to make them and May responded appropriately. In the very beginning of the video, you see May kind of shoot off awkwardly after our first few canter strides. I actually tapped here with the crop because I felt like she was stuck behind my leg a bit.
I was super happy I did that because I needed that forward over the first fence. I thought we handled the first 3 really well. May was a touch resistant to the turn to 4, but the concentration on my outside aids resulted in a good turn and meeting 4 in good balance. Jump 5 was my favorite of the whole course… partially because May sees the distance and perks her ears up. So cute <3
My ride to 6 was really good. We had the option of doing 4 or 5 strides in the line, but she was going so well, I didn’t want to pull for the 5 (and be a bit dead in the water over the oxer). The four worked out well, but I was a bit ambitious in my communication to her that we were staying straight, so she swapped up front. (more less, less hand).
8 was our ugly jump haha. The balance and pace were good, but I TOTALLY CUT THE CORNER. No unexpectedly, that resulted in a chip. She landed cross cantering, we corrected to the counter canter, buuuuut I pulled her around the corner a bit and back into the cross canter. Oops. Either way, I squared up nicely to the last jump and kept the rhythm. It was a TOUCH deep, but I much prefer to ride deep to a solid fence like the boxes vs. leaving long.
Honestly? One of the best courses we have done.. maybe ever? Perfect, Nope. But I executed on the plan, and May was super responsive (after a little wake up call from Mr. Tappy Tappy). We did do the course one more time, and it was fiiiiiiine but we were both a bit spent. I think the gymnastics at the beginning took a bit out of her.
Overall, super happy and proud and wishing that we can figure out a safe way to make real horse shows happen again.
In other news, May and I celebrated our 5th anniversary together on Sunday! I need to do a post dedicated to that because it would be really fun to look back at the last 5 years.