After our Dressage lesson, I had originally planned to spend the rest of week getting accustomed to some jumping again. I was going to focus on rhythm and impulsion over crossrails and small verticals (maybe 2’ max). Instead, I showed up on Saturday and my trainer asked if I wanted to join the weekly group jumping lesson. I was about 45 minutes early for it. My initial reaction was to tell her we weren’t ready for it. Instead, I asked her if it would be easy. She said it would be everyone’s first jumping lesson back, so I agreed to do it.
I am super happy I did.
The lesson started out with a quick flat warmup, asking us to get our horses thinking of moving forward and light. May and I are getting to be experts at this one. (Finally. This is hours and hours of just asking her not to run around on her forehand.) Then, we started with cantering through a set of poles to the right, getting the correct 6 strides, then adding for 7, then opening for 5. May was able to do the 6 and the 7 without any issues. The 5 was pretty elusive for us, as she doesn’t have a very big stride, so we ended with a 5.25 strides and called that close enough.
When we went to the left, we just asked for the regular 6 strides, since we were coming toward home. The first time through I over corrected for the change in direction and we got 6.25 strides. Then, I pushed through the line and got 5.75. My trainer and I got a bit of a laugh out of this, as I definitely have a more adjustable horse than I had last time I jumped.
Then, it was time to begin jumping. The goal of today was to make sure that everyone had breaks and had a positive experience (horses and riders). So we put up the first part of the line to a small vertical. We were asked to trot in and halt. May was actually really, really good about this. See below:
See? Not kidding. Really good. Which was great because the next step was to trot in, halt, and then trot out of the line. May was lazy off my leg and the small verticals didn’t entice her to try. Everyone tried this, but May and I didn’t have to try it again. The next time through, we had to canter into the line and canter out in the 6 strides then halt. How was May? Perfect again…
Oooook. So everything just kind of kept going really, really well. We did the one stride and halted without an issue.
Next up was the roll top then three strides to the pink vertical. This is not an easy exercise for May and I. May tends to fall out through her left shoulder and this was a left turn past the in-gate. As a result, we got crooked into the line and ended up doing 4 strides a couple of times. Finally, I figured out how to keep contact with my right rein and pushed my right spur (soft touch spurs) into her rib cage of the fence. And Voila! We got the 3 strides.
Then, we jumped the skinny to the Liverpool in 4 strides. This is the point May started to get tired. Can you tell? I can because all of a sudden her nice steady head start flinging around like she’s in a rock band. It’s her way of fighting me because she wants to drop back onto her forehand. Solution? Fitness. Fitness. Fitness.
From there, we added a 5-stride bending line from the first part of the outside line to the coupe. This was an awkward line, as you had to go almost a full 4 strides straight before turning to the coupe. Of course, that is also a jump that has no standards or wings, so you have to be pretty spot on with your steering. If you all remember, May and I have a history with this jump and May thinking that it was a stupid idea to jump it. Now though, she seems to have gotten over it, and she jumped it great. Our line was wonky and we got 6 strides. I landed and let my reins slip through my fingers and let her stretch down, and got told to put knots in my reins so I stop doing that and to do it again.
So here I am, in my mid-20s, knotting my reins so that I stop letting them slip through as soon as I finish an exercise. The next time through, we found the proper line and had no issues getting the 5 or making it over the coupe. I had no issues with letting my reins run through my fingers at the end, and we watched as others gave the line a go. For the most part, it was the same. Everyone had an awkward first attempt but found the first line on the second try.
Finally, it was time to string the whole thing together. Below is what the course looked like: (1. Purple Vertical, 2. Barrels, 3a. block oxer, 3b. America Vertical, 4a. Roll top, 4b. Pink Vertical, 5. Teal skinny, 6. Liverpool, 7. Purple Vertical, 8. Coupe)
I also have video of how it went! For our first time back jumping, and the end of an hour long lesson, I am really happy with how I rode and how May listened.
May was tired and fought me a bit on staying light. In an (entirely misguided) effort to keep her light, I held onto my right rein entirely too much. By the end she was popping her whole shoulder through my right rein and leg (because endless nagging doesn’t make a soft horse). As a result, the bending line at the end ended up being a super direct line, and we got 4.25 strides. It was an ugly chip and May was exhausted, but I still see a lot of positives.
I think once we get the fitness back, May is going to be a super easy ride. We are able to start courses with the same forward rhythm as we are ending them on and the lightness of May’s forehand is allowing her to start finding her own spots without a whole lot of input from me other than maintaining the rhythm and the impulsion.
Things to work on include getting May to supple more on her right side. Again – as she gets tired, she gets disproportionately heavy on that side, which I am about 90% sure is the result of my weaknesses on that side. I also want to get May really fit again. My trainer suggested some interval training routines for us and recommended utilizing poles more in our flatwork. Of course, hill work is always encouraged.