I am a bit behind in my posts. As life turns out, selling a home, buying a home, and moving 2,000 miles is not conducive to also working, riding, and blogging. I blog for fun, so unfortunately, it fell to the back burner for a while.
Luckily though, I have a wildly patient trainer and really a unicorn of a horse, so we’ve kept up on our lessons. For the past few weeks, Mandy has set up our arena based off inspiration from some top event riders whose name has been buried under a million other details in my life right now. However, everything was set up to encourage a forward but accurate ride. Lots of related distances, angled fences, and accuracy questions. Honestly, it was a BLAST to ride.
Honestly… I attempted to draw the whole thing out, but it was a small nightmare. We started with one of my favorite exercises which is cantering over small, narrow flower boxes. The whole idea is to get the horse very straight to the base of the fence with enough impulsion. It’s a cool exercise that I love doing on my own. It really lets you work on how you ride your lines to your fences. I think if you have a home barn, these are easy enough to make yourself and utilize in your training.
Once we had that under control, we worked on some course work! We started coming down the crossrail bounce, 2 strides to a vertical, then bending to another vertical. Left turn over a 2 stride vertical line, then looping around to come down a long approach to an oxer. The first time coming to the oxer, May went to drag me to the fence, taking full advantage of the long approach. I made the decision to circle right. As a result, May was MUCH softer and landed on her left lead (vs the right lead she favors).
After that, we moved on to doing the entirety of the gymnastic set up across the middle of the arena… which literally went “Bounce, 2 stride, 2 stride, 2 stride, 2 stride.” WHEW. May NAILED that. She wanted to drift right a bit on me near the end, but I opened my outside rein, closed my inside leg, and she stayed straight and balanced. To give you an idea of what that combo looked like coming into it…
After that line, we bended right to come through a one stride on an angle (vertical to oxer). May NAILED this. She is so honest on the line. We then had to open up our stride to come to a oxer, 3 stride, vertical, 3 stride, oxer. The first 3 strides were set a bit long with the second set a bit short. Honestly, she jumped the SNOT out of that, and it was so fun.
Since we basically nailed everything we wanted to work on that day… we were done. It was honestly one of the best jumping lessons of my life.
This week, we had another jumping lesson… and my focus was just OFF the entire lesson. We started with the same flower box exercise, and it was good. When we moved into course work I just…couldn’t get my act together. Due to the humidity, some rain, and lots of May sweat, my reins just kept getting slicker and slicker. Unfortunately, that was not my biggest problem. My biggest problem? My complete assurance in being completely wrong.
My course was a bending line in 6 strides coming away from home, left turn over the oxer, vertical, oxer line, up two angled verticals in 2 strides, and then right over the panel fence by itself. and EXCUSE ME. I could not find my rhythm. I first added basically everywhere until I had to bail out of the angled line. (May would’ve done it. I am 0% concerned about teaching her bad habits, and I asked for the turn as I came over the first fence.) Enjoy that fail below.
THEN, we swapped out the panel for the other 6 stride bending line… I confirmed that both lines were six strides. And then somewhere on my way to the first fence, decided they were actually FIVE strides… and, bless my pea-pickin heart (and my g-damn unicorn), I made 5 strides happen. Actually, I almost made 4 strides happen in the last line… a line that ended in a training-sized vertical. Bless this horse, she jumped better than I deserved.
After I was like “Gosh, I got it done, but it felt like I REALLY had to kick to make those 5 strides happen.”
I wish you all could’ve seen the look on Mandy’s face. “Uh… it felt rushed because you were supposed to do six.”
“So… go do it again?”
So we did… and by this point, I had ZERO grip left on my reins. But May is perfect so despite pulling the reins out of my hands when I asked for her to do a simple change through the walk, she was perfect. We still did the last line in 5, but this was because I picked a REALLY efficient line vs. just RUNNING AT IT.
Was it the glowing perfect lesson we had previously? No. Did it ask a lot of hard questions that we answered? Yes. Is my mind 100% occupied with a million things other than whether a line is 5 or 6 strides? Absolutely. Giving myself a little grace on this one and still staying proud of what we did manage to accomplish.