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It’s always interesting to compare how training is so different from showing. At shows, the goals is to keep all the rails in the cups (and do the million other things required to  make this one thing happen). However, in training, we sometimes need to correct the issues that sometimes pop up and cause those rails to go down. When I got May, the biggest issue was balance.

Then, we started trying to get more forward while maintaining this balance, and things fell apart for a while.

Then… we moved to KY hahaha. So this really didn’t get fixed for a while. Recently though, this balance and forward thing has REALLY been coming together.

However, when I was watching Mandy ride May last Tuesday, I realized that she was having to make some pretty clear corrections. Almost all of these corrections were keeping the straightness to the base of the jumps.

Go back, rewatch that last video. Do you see what I see? I see a rider who tries to get her horse straight coming out of the corner, and then about three strides away from the fence, just gets soft and let’s her horse get crooked. That rider is me hahaha. I don’t hold May to any real standard as we get to the base of the jumps, and many times, it costs us our balance over the fence and on the landing side. When the jumps get bigger, it gets even more obvious.

So when I showed up to my lesson on Tuesday, I asked for one thing: Teach me to make corrections to the base of fences even if it means an ugly jump. As I soften over those last three strides, I just invite May’s right shoulder over. Sooo we want to land on our left lead and fall a bit right through our turns after our fences. UGH

The lesson started out pretty conservatively. We went down the line near the seating area next to the ring that Mandy did last week. It was set on a short turn to an open 3 strides. So Mandy had us come in with more collected canter, get super straight, and stay straight and collected for four strides.

First time? A bit rough, as she popped her shoulder right over the first fence. Second time? She tried to blow through me and we got 3.5 strides. Third time? Finally nailed it in a soft and even four. Then we had to get it in three, and I sliced around the corner and made it all ugly and ugh. We finally nailed that though, and went out to do a course.

Mandy clearly being more influential over fences than I am. 

The course had several jumps set off the short side of the arena, so you really had to square your turns, get straight, and be prepared for another square turn after. May though? She felt she had all the time in the world and could counter canter all the things. (We did A LOT Of jumping out of counter canter this week by pure default). We did the same vertical to oxer line Mandy did and then beant it to the three stride we warmed up through and… I COULD NOT nail this.

Cute pic, but even here she is pushing through my right leg. 

I could not get the right lead over either of the jumps set off the short side. I kept pushing too much through the bending line to the oxer, almost getting 4 strides instead of 5 at one point, and I kept slicing the turn to the last line. At times, May threw her head up and had full meltdowns when I insisted that she not fall through her right shoulder. It was… not pretty, but I could feel the holes in our training. As a result, Mandy and I figured out a plan to fix them, complete with my own homework.

For now, the plan is to continue to work on her responsiveness on the flat and to add in smaller verticals or large crossrails and loop through them with straight approaches and lots of changes in direction.

Definitely not the jump lesson that leaves you on a high of confidence, but it was so necessary at this point.

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  1. Britt

    Oh man… I have had so many lessons like this haha- and as your title says, you just gotta ride through the ugly. Jack’s version of ugly looks like a giraffe with Tourette’s syndrome, and it feels like it too- but those lessons help us smooth everything out for later! Remember, diamonds are made with pressure!!! No pressure, no diamonds!

    1. Emily

      at one point, May and I were cantering at a jump. I went to counter bend, and she threw her head in the air, completely off the contact, I think I saw the white on her face, and shook it back and forth all the way to the base of the jump. *GULP*

    2. martidoll123

      i just woke up my dogs who are sleeping reading your comment Britt. HAHAHA Giraffe with Tourette’s

  2. Stacie Seidman

    Sometimes you have to go full on ugly before you come out pretty on the other side. That whole ugly duckling scenario, right? You two will get this fixed up quickly I’m sure! Good for you for seeing the issue so you can fix it!

    1. L. Williams

      Definitely agree, it’s like breaking everything to put it back together stronger or the house getting messier before it gets cleaner.

      1. Emily

        Yup! Sometimes you gotta pull all the junk out of the back of the closet before you can fix it.

  3. rooth

    Your plan sounds like a solid one. Sometimes you have to smack them with reality to show them that, even though they are S-M-R-T, they do have to listen and can’t just pick how to do the thing themselves

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