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If you’re wondering what happened to me last week, join the club. I was called in for Jury Duty, and they quickly explained that, of the 60 people called, only 14 would be selected and the rest could leave at lunch time. Great! Except, I ended up being one of the 14 people and spent the majority of last week as a juror on a federal criminal trial. It was also at a location WAY DOWNTOWN in Louisville, so I was 45 min from home and 35 min from the barn, without traffic… given that there is always traffic in that area and they kept letting us out late, I basically didn’t get to ride last week… Oh well. Here is a summary of our lesson from the week below.

NT LOVES grids. She thinks that, especially in eventing, it is important to train horses to be responsible for what they are doing with their legs. The truth of the matter is, no one is ever going to hit ever jump from the perfect distance, so we have to train horses to make sure that they are confident and comfortable getting us out of some less than ideal situations. So instead of building exercises and courses that allow a jump, 20 strides, another jump, 5 strides, another jump, she built exercises that force us to think and react a bit faster.

The first exercise? A modified circle of death. In essence, we did the circle of death going to the left, but making right circles after the first 2 poles. See below… enjoy my paint skills.

Circle of Death

This wasย shockingly harder that I thought it would be. I really needed May to move off my inside leg and into my outside rein each time we changed direction, when all she wanted to do was drop her inside shoulder through my leg and barrel through my aids. Fun stuff. Eventually, we were able to do it without flailing around corners with me hopelessly hanging on the inside rein. Yay!

So then the circle of death changed again. We did it in the traditional manner, then circled in the opposite direction and came over an oxer in the middle of the exercise.

COD Oxer

Now, something interesting happened. If I could keep the balance and rhythm through the circle of death, then the turn and the oxer ended up being super smooth and easy. May POWERED over the oxer, and we ended up only doing this once in each direction. Calling it a win!

Now, it was course time. Let me just throw this out there… then I will explain. Luckily, all pics below are the jumps at the height they were set for our lesson, so you can have an idea of where we’re at. (somewhere between Starter and BN).

July Course

I always label the jump numbers on the side of the jump you are jumping from. So jump 1 was jumped from left to right, then the 2 combination was jumped from right to left. So yes. That means that the course started by jumping 1 near the rail, leg yielding out to the rail, then making a tight turn to jump the 2 combination on the quarter line. That two combination was a tight 2 stride… that I tried to make a 3 stride the first time we did it. The rest of the first course (which only went to jump 6) can be seen through my cambox!

It’s on mute because otherwise all you would hear in my heavy breathing. It was HOT and HUMID that day. After getting the 3 in the 2, I realized I really needed to get our butts in gear. I rode forward properly from there and, SHOCKINGLY, the rest of the course came up great. We were supposed to do the inside turn after the barrels, inside the red white and blue jump… but no luck the first attempt. Jump 4 jumped well, but I kept my leg on because of the liver-pool under jump 5. I shouldn’t have worried, May couldn’t have cared less. The triple rode AWESOME. It was a 1 stride to a 2 stride with the oxer at the end. So first course attempt was establishing the rhythm, but loosing the turns.

Our second attempt, we were told to add in jumps 7, 8, and 9. Except… I seriously massacred jump 4. I lost her right shoulder to the outside going around the corner, pulled (which made her MORE crooked), lost the distance. She chipped in, and jumped through her right shoulder, shoving my foot out of the stirrup and landing in a heap. I, embarrassingly, thought I was going to fall off. Nothing like impressing a new trainer in your second jump lesson by falling off because you lost your stirrup….

Here you can see the triple combination to jump 7. You can also see jump 4 (the watermelon jump) and jump 9 (the far, red white and blue vertical)

I regrouped, and we started again. I nailed one, got through 2, made the sharp turns to 3 and 4. Then, I got a little tight to the entrance into the triple combination. I am about 95% sure that I stopped breathing. We made it through fine. May really does have plenty of step. I made a VERY BAD turn to 7, and I realized I was REALLY dizzy when we landed. I circled and regrouped and came back to the walk. It was a cop out. I keep thinking that I probably could have made it through 2 more jumps, but wasย probablyย worth it in a lesson? Probably not. We took the walk break, and finished over 7, 8, and 9.

Just a slightly “to the left” pic compared to the one above, so that you can see the blue barrels and how close they were to jump 7.

I was exhausted. I felt heat sickness creeping up on me. I chugged a bottle of water while I hosed May off, and once she was in her stall under a fan, I sat down for maybe 20 minutes to regroup. It was bad. I was so sore the next day, and it was just really disappointing to me. I have spent the last couple of weeks getting up a 5AM to get to the gym before work, and this just reiterated how out of shape I have really gotten.

All I can do right now though is keep moving forward. I am pushing my morning workout a little harder, upping the amount of time I spend in the saddle (especially cantering) each ride, and I am making more of an effort to eat better to make my (and May’s job) a little easier with a few less lbs.

How did May feel? When I turned her out in her field (after a cold shower and some time under the fan), she took off galloping across the field to tell her friends about how awesome she is. I had to laugh. As usual, the problems are mine, not hers.

The circle of death! Hahaha (and the first 3 jumps of the course all the way in the background).

How do I feel about the lesson itself though? AMAZING. Reflecting back on it has made me realize just how much improvement I got from May through that one lesson. This horse has a habit of pulling me down and out of the tack after fences, but through these exercises, I had a horse that landing and came up to me, instead of pulling down. It was a huge improvement, and I can’t wait to keep working on it.

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  1. Erin

    You and May are a great team, and you last course was flawless. Give yourself some credit girl, or I’ll do it for you. <3 #teammay

    1. Emily

      Thanks girl! We got the goods, just need the polish. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. the_everything_pony

    Yay! Sounds like a good lesson! I want to get back into my lessons too but I am….uhhh…..SO out of shape lol. I started going to the gym but haven’t been in a few weeks sooooo I know my fitness is way lacking lol. May has such sass LOL!

    1. Emily

      Soooo much sass. A LONG time ago, I used to run, and I would love to get back to that point. Right now, I will settle for walking a XC course and not huffing and puffing hahaha

  3. martidoll123

    omg i cant even imagine when i finally get a lesson again it will make you seem like Iron Man ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL…sounds like it was a very good lesson but sorry the heat got to you a bit. Glad it didn’t bother May at all HA! Iron Pony! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Emily

      At least having the horses at home gets you up and moving a few times a day! That is more than I got going for me hahaha

      May was wild after. It was hilarious. People always assume that she’s the kind of horse you can “ride down”… and nope… she’s the kind of horse that has days that you just have to let go.

  4. roamingridersite

    The heat is no joke. I bet once fall hits and the world cools off again you will find that your stamina returns and has gained.

    1. Emily

      Probably true. The heat and humidity has already dropped off a bit here. (80s and 70% humidity vs. 90s and 90% humidity). It makes a massive difference.

  5. KC Scott

    Sounds awesome! I’m mentally checking to see if we have enough standards at the barn to copy this course- it looks like some fun ๐Ÿ™‚ Love the Cambox video, you guys did great!

    I mute a lot of my Cambox videos, too for that exact reason!

    1. Emily

      The course was really really good for us. The mix of turns and related distances forces me to ride forward through the turns, without letting her barrel down on her forehand. Would love to see how your ride goes! (I have a clip of NT doing the same course… flawlessly)

      I am LOVING the cambox. I have so much footage from this lesson, just haven’t had the time to weed through it all!

  6. emma

    oooooh i LOVE those exercises!!! not that i think charlie could do them right now bc… omg, nimble we are NOT lol. but that looks super fun and like a really great test of balance and steering while keeping the revs up. how cool! and i hear ya on the heat sickness thing. it’s real. and it sucks. but it won’t be hot forever!

    1. Emily

      I think the circle of death exercises are really great because you could, in theory, expand them out to make it easier, or contract the circle down to make it harder. May definitely STRUGGLED, but it was the good kind of struggle.

      Fingers crossed for a long, beautiful fall.

  7. Karen Taylor

    I was tinkering around on that circle of death the other day too! NOT EASY.

    1. Emily

      Glad you know my pain! Hahaha. I think it was more mentally challenging than the actual coursework.

  8. Sleepy Equestrian

    That course looks fun – I loved the video! Even if I could not physically complete it right now lol. Yay for it overall being a confidence-building lesson for both of you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Emily

      Thanks! Definitely challenging but a ton of fun

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