After last week’s pendulum of jumping lessons, from OMG GET IN FRONT OF MY LEG through OMG WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I thought it made the most sense to take another jumping lesson on Tuesday and put some extra work into smoothing out those edges. I wanted to make sure that the training of “Forward” was solidified and to work a bit more on the adjustability with the default being the more forward step.
Not sure any of that made sense… but there is a feeling where, when you’re quiet, your horse keeps their rhythm, but when you just soften, they move forward. That feeling. Not the feeling where you soften and the horse just falls on the forehand. NOR the feeling where you sit quiet and the horse runs out from underneath you… Both of these are things May loves.
Our jump lesson started with an interesting little gymnastic exercise. Everything was set to poles, instead of fences. And it was a line of “jump” bounce to pole one stride to “jump” bounce to pole, one stride “jump” and bounce to the last pole. Everything was set on the standard 12′ stride, so it was about coming in with enough step (but not too much) and then maintaining your rhythm, step and line throughout the exercise.
We had done these with the actual jumps up last week, so we easily skipped through it this week. Then, Mandy asked me to counter canter into it. Errrrr oooook. Could I get enough step in the counter canter without shoving her off the left lead? I had… no idea.
Then I realized there was something else I had no idea how to do. Get the counter canter in the first place… I’ve never actually practiced picking up the counter canter on May. I’ve only practiced picking up the true canter and then looping into the counter canter. For a second, I considered doing that. But you know what? This was the time to practice a new skill. Of course, May is May, and she picked up the counter canter from the walk on the first try with no issues… good mare.
Of course, the first time through I was CONVINCED we didn’t have enough step. So while I held the counter canter, I chased her out of the corner. Effectively running down the poles and almost missing the last stride. Oops. Came back, did it again. Just sat quiet, and it rode great. Yay!
Then the jumps went up, and we rode through the course from the virtual show again. And you know what? It was even better than Thursday’s attempt. So we mixed it up.
Mandy also made one change. She wanted us to jump through the 60′ line (2 – 3) in 5 strides instead of 4. The goal was to work on our adjust-ability. I have a habit that, if I start a course behind the step, I have a hard time getting the step throughout the entire course. This was a good time to test the ability to quiet the step early in the course and then open it up near the end.
Our first time through was fairly good. The five in the first line I had to work for a bit, which isn’t surprising since I just spent an entire week teaching her to do it in four. Annnnd I was so excited about a GREAT jump at the purple oxer (jump 4) that I… almost missed the blue box. (Does anyone else do that?) The last line rode great.
The next time through? The five strides in the 60′ line rode better, but she blew me off for the lead change (similar to how she did in our jump video for the virtual show.) Uhhh not helpful. I ended up not getting the canter back until we were coming to the purple oxer, and she didn’t jump in front of my leg again. (remember that issue going from a quiet step to an open one?) As a result… we crashed right through the purple oxer UGH. I have it on video so… look for a #FailFriday on Instagram tomorrow haha.
I pulled up at that point, and Mandy and I had a chat about it. She NEEDS to listen to that half halt and downward transition, and in that case, I need to get the change before the turn. It’s a turn going towards the barn and across the gate. And honestly, it is not dissimilar to a question that would be asked in competition. (How many oxers have you seen on a shortish approach away from the ingate?)
So we started up again.
This time, I got a bit deep to the blue boxes, but it’s a nice solid fence so it was fine. The five rode GREAT. I really channeled my inner equitation rider (who hasn’t seen the light of day in over a decade). But then… over the pink, I asked for the left lead. I mean, I ASKED like a HUNTER rider with no lead changes.
And you know what May did? She blew me off. OOOOOOOk. I sat and asked her to come back, and she BLEW ME OFF. NOOOOPE. Seat went down and closed, hands closed. And I sat very still while May had a GLORIOUS hissy fit. Cute. Once she trotted, I softened back up, and she stepped right back into the step she needed to jump the purple great. This meant we were in great balance coming back to the blue box.
It also meant that the last line didn’t need a ton of adjustment from me, despite doing the earlier line on a smaller step. In fact, down that line I got the perfect forward balance. Instead of pumping and chasing her down the line, I could just soften and support, and she jumped out great. (AND ON THE LEFT LEAD BECAUSE SHE IS 100% CAPABLE). ahem.
We finished the lesson with coming down the 60′ line in 5 strides one more time, and asking for the left lead again. And you know what? Homegirl did it. Funny how training works.
Virtual Horse Show – Final Thoughts & Update
Over all, that virtual horse show cost me $40 for a jumping round and 2 dressage rounds. Not bad at all! (and the cost of my trainer’s time in getting me all prepped). It was great to get feedback and an understanding of a different approach to this sport and my horse. It gave me some inspiration for some exercises to improve our ride-ability and adjust-ability.
I will be doing the May one as well (which technically opened yesterday). The link is here if you are interested, but they have not put up the SJ course yet. . There is a new set of judges, so I am excited to get another set of eyes on Novice A and a first score on Novice B. AND I am hopeful about getting some more feedback on a different SJ round. A huge shout out to the team putting it on, and to my trainer for being willing to coach, move jumps, set jumps, video, and cheer us all on.