May and I have been taking lessons once a week since Galway, but the focus has really been on our flat work. We don’t have any shows lined up in the near future (Summer eventing in California is not something I think May would be interested in trying). And honestly, her flat work has felt really, really good. She’s really understanding how to engage her hind end and come over her topline, and we are starting to work on how to compress that engagement down into a more collected gait.
Of course, this also means I haven’t been blogging much because… how many times can you say you rode a 20M circle where you worked on bending an counter bending and opening and closing your horses stride for 45 minutes? Some people can write really interesting posts about it, but I am not that talented.
However, I realized on Monday that I hadn’t jumped in a month, and I had a moment of “oh no, I’ll forget how.” I am sure most adult ammies can relate. So I shot Chloe a text to see if I could get on the schedule before she was off to a show this weekend, and I managed to sneak into a lesson yesterday.
I’m not totally sure what I was expecting. I guess that I would cruise around some 2’3″ fences and work on keeping May soft and supple and not worry too much about height or anything terribly difficult? Let’s all take a moment to laugh at me.
Instead, we warmed up over a wide, low x-rail oxer, making a figure 8 over it. The purpose was asking May to wait and stay soft and supple. It them got put up to a solid BN oxer, and we continued to figure 8 over it. Staying true to my roots, my first time to the larger fence, I chased May a bit to a deep distance. It’s like I see a distance and I want to “lock it in” by riding aggressively at it. That is… not really how it works. The next couple of times around, I was able to settle and wait and be soft, and May jumped it great. Go figure.
Up next was a simple but challenging gymnastic. It was 4 verticals set at a short one stride distance and a height of around 2’6″, so you really had to keep the horse’s feet moving quickly without their stride opening up. Of course, the first time through, I asked Chloe if she forgot to put them down for me. She did not. That was the height. OOOOK HERE WE GO!
Fun fact, you cannot just run at a really short strided gymnastic of verticals. Did I try to? Yes. I saw a longer distance in and tried to make it up, and well… May figured it out, but it was a scramble. Ok. Don’t do that. The next couple of times through, I cooled my jets, and she jumped great through it. Whew!
So… onto course work. We came down the one stride gymnastic, right turn to the oxer we warmed up over, and then 5 or 6 strides on the bending line to another oxer. Left turn, down a skinny vertical 4 strides to a nice big, square oxer. Right turn over a 2 stride line of 2 verticals. Then like a 60 degree turn to a 1 stride line of 2 verticals. So 12 jumping efforts all at related distances. Whew!
First time through, I jumped the gymnastic fine, but she landed cross cantering. I took a circle to fix it, and then continued down the oxer line. I got a bit deep to the first one and just sat quiet to the second… so quiet… did nothing… no leg… no seat… just sat there. I expected May to take me, and instead, she stayed soft and quiet. Needless to say, we got a horrendous chip with no impulsion and took down the whole oxer.
I kept going though. (yay for me?) And I managed to make basically the same mistake in the next line, but at least added my leg, so we kept it up. Surprisingly, I then rode both of the shorter related distances well. Advice to fix it? Actually count down the lines. Of course, this can be tough to do while concentrating on a million other things.
So we tried again, but we left out the gymnastic at the start. Those type of questions are a big, physical ask for May, and she had been great about it. This also meant I had to set up my canter properly FROM THE START to get the right striding through the line I just crashed through. Cool. So… I counted.. A lot… loudly… and badly. The first line then rode great. I still had to ride forward for the 6, so I could have ridden my line a bit better/tighter, but it was fine.
Then in the next line, I decided to count down from 5 through it… reminder, it was a 4 stride. (Not like I have a degree in Economics and can count or anything…) So we took off at “1” instead of “0”. It didn’t matter, the counting still worked. Because of this, I also didn’t feel the need to chase May through either of the shorter related distanced. Overall, it was a great course.
I was happy with the decisions I made on course, but most of all, I was happy that when I wanted May to move forward I didn’t go “OMG KICK!” and instead consciously thought about just moving my seat to open her step.
I opted to end on that positive note. She was rideable and good through some tough exercises, and I was able to execute on things. We have another lesson on Monday (yay Holiday!), where I hope to build on what we accomplished in this lesson. Aka – me learning how to count again.