And a bit of a breakthrough! (But no new pictures)
I rode May on Friday of last week, before my lesson on Saturday. We had just had a short thunderstorm, so the ring was muddy. However, the footing in our ring never really gets deep or slick. I decided to pop over a few fences. Of course, I decided to do this in my Dressage bit (a Neue Schule baucher bit) with just a plain noseband. The result, May pretty much just ran through me the whole time.
To try and get her attention, I jumped a vertical coming towards home, and then took a decent sized rollback (think Equitation turn) to a square oxer. The first time through it, May ran through my hand, fell on her forehand, and slipped a bit at the base. We pretty much demolished the oxer, and both my fiance and I were convinced I was coming off. Somehow, I managed to push both my ankles back underneath me and sat up before May started her crow hopping shenanigans.
I knew that the next time to the oxer, I would have to ride more confidently to help May get over the oxer without psyching herself out. Naturally, I ran at it, but we cleared it just fine. Finally, I convinced myself to sit back, and I convinced May to rock back, and we had a really good jump over the oxer. I continued around to jump the roll top fence just to make sure we ended the session with May feeling super confident before our lesson on Saturday. She wasn’t 100% listening, but she was confident and I figured it wasn’t anything we couldn’t work out in a lesson.
On Saturday, we threw on the Dr. Bristol and the figure 8 bridle for our lesson. Originally, we were going to take a private lesson on Thursday, but ended up joining the group jump lesson on Saturday. I personally love the group lesson. My trainer is very conscious to make sure that everyone in the group is at the same level (horses and riders), so it’s not like I have to worry about not getting to jump any height or being overwhelmed. Since this was the last day my trainer would be giving lessons before she has her baby, the group was a touch larger than usual with 5 riders.
First, we worked on the flat in our two-point. Like the whole time. Now, I have a really bad left ankle. I am pretty sure I sprained it several years ago when I got thrown off a horse, but it never really healed. I am also one of those people that does not benefit from bendy stirrups. They always make me more uncomfortable and my position really suffers in them. Where does that leave me? With the MDC Sport Classic stirrups. https://www.smartpakequine.com/pt/mdc-sport-classic-stirrup-8716
The wide footbed and angled head (set at 90 degrees for me) keeps me from torquing my ankle too much, while still providing great stability. However, 10 straight minutes in 2 point at the walk trot and canter was a bit too much, and I was feeling it. Turns out, I would feel it for the next two days too. Note to self, find a way to do 2 point without ruining ankles. (Ideas?!)
Once we warmed up, we trotted into the line with the liverpool. Going from a crossrail over the liverpool then 5 (haha) strides to the pink vertical. The first time in, May and I got a very nice 6 strides… oops. After that, we figured out the pace, but didn’t get straight, and got 5.5 strides. FInally, we got both straight and forward and got the 5 strides. At least May seemed to be listening. Next, we added in the skinny diagonal. Now, however, it was set to 3 strides, not the 2 it had been the previous week. May was a bit wiggly the first time through it. We, and it seems a lot of the other horses, have a hard time making the turn to that fence. It’s a rather steep turn right off the corner, so you have to ride it with enough bend to keep it balanced, without losing the left shoulder. I focused more on keeping May straight than getting the bend. The second time through, my trainer had me stay back in a more defensive positions with a wide hand, and it was much straighter. We didn’t get the striding perfectly, but decided to move forward.
We then came up the two stride, an oxer to the roll top fence. The first time through, we didn’t have enough momentum (see a theme here) and we chipped into and out of the two stride. The next time I rode forward, kept my body back, and it worked out great. Then, my trainer told us we were doing the pink to the oxer roll back that had almost undone us yesterday. I promptly smiled at her and told her I almost died trying the same thing yesterday. I didn’t give her a chance to respond before picking up my canter and going to the first jump. I was a bit conservative to the first, but it made the rollback easier and we hit the oxer in stride. My trainer made it a point of telling us how great that looked and how that was the opposite of dying.
The final piece of the puzzle was the coupe in the middle of the ring and a serpentine to the tires at the bottom of the ring. I rode the coupe much better than I had been, and we kept that same balance to the tires. Of course, my trainer had left her tupperware with her lunch in it on the tires, so May jumped it a bit more aggressively than she normally does. The lunch was removed for the riders after me :-).
Then, we put the whole course together. 5 forward strides up the outside, now an oxer to a vertical). Down the short 3 strides with the skinny verticals. Up the two strides, oxer to the roll back. Finally, the serpentine from the coupe to the tires. Lots of questions that challenge our rhythm and balance, but nothing terribly difficult. I focused on getting a good rhythm down the first line and then maintaining that throughout the rest of the course. And Guess What? I pretty much did that… for 9 out of 10 jumps.
The first line rode amazingly. I nailed the turn to the three stride and kept my body back. We landed in good balance and kept moving forward to the two stride. We jumped the pink big but she came right back to me for the rollback to the oxer. I couldn’t believe it. I was riding like I knew what I was doing! We found the coupe in stride and made the turn to the tires… and I saw nothing. I said Whoa, and got the chip. May was right. The spot was there and I made it disappear. My trainer had us come back to the last two, and we were able to nail it. Maybe we haven’t reached perfection yet, but at least I feel competent!