Fall Weather and Flying Pony

I guess this is the week when I suddenly want to blog everyday. Go figure.

Yesterday, I posted the video from our lesson. It was every course we did after a short warm up over a vertical a few times. The pattern of the lesson was super simple. Mandy gave me a course. I did the course. We talked about it. I did the course again. However, I just couldn’t quite find the right balance last night between forward and running. It bit me in the behind a few times.

For some reason, I think due to taking in too much caffeine in the afternoon, I was feeling INCREDIBLY anxious and jumpy. I’m not quite sure how other people experience anxiety in the saddle, but for me, it literally feels like my whole lower body goes numb. Looking back, I wish I had just counted out loud the entire course, every course. Or sung to myself. Or something.

First course?

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Right turn to the oxer, left turn to the diagonal line coming home. Now, this line was SPECIFICALLY set at 5.5 strides. The first time in, I was CONVINCED we needed to do 6 and that the 5 would just run her off her feet. It was the wrong move. I got it done, but you can see how unhappy May was with my decision.

THEN since that first line rode so funky, I just kind of maintained coming to the other diagonal, which guess what, was set to a SHORT 5 strides. HHAHAHHA. May is cleaver, so it was fine. Then, I was so determined to keep her wide coming to the green panel jump at the end that I actually pulled her front end off the lead, and we almost turned right. Opps. Fixed it… and of course missed the distance. MMMMM K. Honestly, the first and last jumps were my favorite of the whole course. At least I seem to be over my first-jump-itis?

May was feeling VERY forward. I think the softer ground after the rain made her a bit more game than I have given her credit for recently.

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So we did it again. Advice? Stop being so harsh with all your aids. Just ASK for things instead of being like OMG DO THE THING I AM ASKING YOU TO DO RIGHT NOW. Oh… and stop trying to jam six strides into that diagonal line. I think a lot of this over riding was my anxiety kicking up, but again, I should’ve just started singing to myself.

Sooo same course again. The video missed the first oxer, but it rode just as well this time as the last time. If not a bit better.

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I could not find a good distance to the vertical purple and blue jump and my stupid fight with May caused me to really boogey down that line to get the five.  It ended up fine. I have a good little mare. Then… the super helpful barn dog decided to try and get underfoot. You can see May’s swishy tail feelings in the video… but here was my view.

Ahahahaha. Mostly though, May didn’t care. I really need to take this one fox hunting.

ANYWAY, we continued to the other diagonal, where… I didn’t make the best decision. After the dog incident, I pushed her forward to make sure she was in front of my leg, but then I picked a fight a bit too late to the first fence. I should’ve just realized that she was so game that night that I could’ve just left her alone.

Oh well, it rode fine on the out. Not surprisingly, I got a better (but not great) jump over the green panel. And then… right at the end, I got the MOST PERFECT CANTER to jump over the solid, skinny box jump…. Oh well, love us some solid fences.

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Overall, it was pretty good. I made the improvements we discussed previously, even with a little help from the peanut gallery. So we got a new course!

We started with the green panel, which I just COULDN’T FIND A DISTANCE TOO. (Note to self, stop looking for distances just fix your straightness and balance.)

finally changed my line to the in of the purple and blue line, so I got a better jump there. That allowed me to land, pick her up, and send her forward. I WAS SO EXCITED for how that line rode… that I completely forgot I had to make the sharp right turn to the pink and gray. AHAHAHAH. Oh well, I looked up, found a line, and rode it. Was it square? Nope. Was my horse straight? Yup! In case anyone wonders, May is really good at jumping fences at an angle only because I do this by accident A LOT.

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The bending to the five was fine, even though I made it extra bendy with my line to the pink. Right leg and all that jazz. I think when I did this one last time, we got 6 consistently so… go figure. (Just looked back, and yes, we got the six last time… I guess the hard ground and hotter weather really was making an impact.)

Anyway, we landed on our left lead, but then I did a magically thing that I didn’t even know I did until I re-watched the video (for the 10th time). I got a flying lead change. Out of May. On course. Oh and then epic-ally missed my distance, so no worries there. I still am who I am.

Then because I DEFINITELY am still who I am, I CHASED May down to the two strides because #Flashbacks. So it ended up being a bit short for her. Oops. The last five stride line was fine.

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So now we were supposed to do the second course again and finish on that. Hah. Advice this round? Just smooth it out. Make the turn to the pink better. Find the distances to the green panel better, and don’t chase her down the two stride. Cool.

Hah. Still missed to the green. Drifted HARD to the right on the blue and purple vertical. Fixed the turn to the pink tho! BUT SOMEHOW the five strides felt long now? I have no idea. This time I just pulled her off the lead up front and didn’t support with my leg. Fun fact, when you do that, your distances get crappy. Then, remember the whole don’t GALLOP down to the combination? I took that as “DEFINITELY PULL TO THE BASE.”

That… did not work. Luckily, my mare is clever and bailed me out. I pulled up at that point. Cantering on to the short five wasn’t going to prove anything other than the fact that I can continue to ride backwards.

So… no need to talk about that. Riding backwards is not the solution for chasing my horse. I got a reminder not to pull her off her leads, and I was sent back out to do it again.

And I FINALLY nailed the distance to that green panel. HAHA TAKE THAT! She took the rail to the blue and purple vertical. No real reason for it, but we did a lot of jumping. I think she was just getting a bit tired and flat on me. But… the five almost got SHORT here, so she jumped the blazes off of the oxer on the out. Oh which also magically got bigger. Funny how that happens 😉

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We got the best turn to the pink there. Balanced without a lot of fighting. Uh… and no I didn’t hear Mandy telling me I could go back to the purple and blue vertical. I had just COMPLETELY blanked on the fact that I had taken that rail down. Luckily, the rail had fallen into basically a ground line, so it rode fine.

But because I was really riding that right shoulder, we landed on our right lead. So we got the distance to the green panel AGAIN. WHOOT! This time, I just allowed her to move down to the combination and supported with my leg. (Shocker). I should’ve brought her back a TOUCH earlier for the red, white and blue, but she did come back. As a result, the five there finally rode fine. (Even if we were counter cantering and I was being bounced all over the place.)

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Did you all make it to the end? Cool. I guess I don’t usually go THIS IN DEPTH in my lessons, but I thought this was a good one to do it for. It all goes back to developing the canter I want early and maintaining it the whole course. May has gotten so adjustable now, that I sometimes get in trouble because I am trying to do too much. It’s looking like this will be our last SJ lesson before our show, and I am super happy with it.

It forced me to make a plan but also be flexible within that plan, and it reminded me to ride and trust that good canter and to STOP messing with it so much. Riding through anxiety is a special kind of skill, but I am pretty proud of my ability to do just that.

In case you missed the video from yesterday, I am plunking it down here for you all:

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Wordless Wednesday

Not quote wordless, but I had my lesson last night. Too much caffeine beforehand left me feeling jittery and anxious, so I just didn’t ride my best. I’ll get into the details of the ride tomorrow, but for today, here is the video of every course we did last night. Good, bad, and ugly.

Hundreds of Hours vs. Ten Minutes

When you spend hundreds of hours to prepare for 10 minutes of competition those hundreds of hours have to be more important than the end result.

~ Bad Eventer

Tonight is my second to last jump lesson before our first BN competition in 3 (and a half) years. Nerves have been slowly creeping in and, along with them, purely irrational thoughts. (because the first rain KY has had in MONTHS definitely means that I have to have a full set of shoes, drilled and tapped for studs, put on my barefoot horse)

So I was sitting at work, doing work things stalking the Team Challenge entry list, and then I read the above quote. Ahead of all the last minute show prep, I figured I would look back on the last 6 months of prep and all that we have accomplished.

Basically, since April, May and I have been committed to our weekly jump lessons. If I am in the state, I am at the barn on Tuesday nights. There are some things that don’t make it into my blog posts a lot. Like all the times that I asked Mandy to make an oxer smaller or hesitated before a course.

The modifications that happened to ensure that I could give my horse the ride she deserved. Like making this small-ish oxer EVEN SMALLER to that I would ride forward to it.

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yes. I had to put the front rail of this oxer down.

In fact, this felt scary, and you can see me PLANTING my  hands on my neck strap because that was as much as I could get myself to do.

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But I kept showing up. I kept doing my homework. I kept working to rewire my brain. A few months later, and we have the photo above.

And then, we had this;

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Then this….

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And then we had this:

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Fear and anxiety are still there. Every. Ride. But it gets better with every good ride I get under my belt. It gets better as Mandy keeps filling my toolbox and confidence bucket, ride after ride.

Would it be great to come home with some satin from Team Challenge? Hell yes. Does it really matter? No. Not really. What really matters are these videos above. The changes in my riding AND in my horse for the better. I can confidently say that the hours leading up to October 19th and 20th are worth WAY MORE to me than the results of this singular show.

Sometimes – We Spicy

May was FEELING her oats at our lesson this week. She’s been in pretty solid work lately, so I wonder if the other saddle really was causing her to suck back a bit. Either way, it made for an interesting jump lesson.

We started with a baby gymnastic. Short turn, three poles, vertical. Now if you all remember, this short turn is basically my nemesis. May is…. not a sports car and keeping impulsion, balance, and power steering is a forever kind of struggle. However, we got it going pretty well, and it really got her tuned into my outside aids. (you know… almost like it was built to do exactly that….)

It started low but eventually built up to the above. You can see May being a bit more resistant to my right hand, which really just felt like a symptom of her being super forward.

Look at those locked in ears!

Once we nailed that exercise, we moved onto a short course. Through the gymastic, up the pink, bending 6 strides to the liverpool, then down the diagonal in 5.

How’d it go? Fine… except that she just kind of ran past the distance to the yellow jump in the first part of the diagonal. Ooooook. Thanks mare. Mandy reminded me to, you know, maintain rhythm, and we moved onto a more complicated course.

Through the gymnastic, bending 4 to the red, white and blue vertical. (Yeah, that got a hairy eyeball from me, but rode great). Then, left turn to the pink, bending to the liverpool again. Then the yellow and around to the skinny blue “block”.

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Aiming for the base with these skinny/solid questions

Whew! Lots of related distances, turns, and different questions in a rather short course. The first time through, the first line rode GREAT. Then… we got in a bit of a disagreement TURNING to the pink. But I got her straight and she jumped the SNOT out of it from a longish distance.

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However, I made ZERO corrections going to the liverpool, and it rode in 5.25 strides. Cool. I made a BIG correction to the yellow, which felt ugly, but she jumped it ok.  Finally over the blue box, which rode easy peasy.

All the jumps stayed up (yay), but there was definitely room for improvement. As the saying goes, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I suddenly had a horse that was really thinking forward, and I had to be a bit faster and more decisive with my corrections to smooth things out. We did the same course again, and I am REALLY happy with it.

To my, the big difference between the video from yesterday and the video from March is how forward thinking May is and how decisive I am in my decisions. Is it perfect? Nah. I could nitpick every. single. fence. However, I had a plan, and I went out and executed that plan.

I am also SUPER happy with how confident May feels. Even just a few months ago, the higher height of the red white and blue and yellow jumps would have backed her off. Now, she is hunting down those fences without blowing past my half halt. (When used correctly and decisively).

Both videos are below, but let’s just say, I am super excited to get out in less than a month!

Perfect Princess Pony

To start, May probably wasn’t a total perfect princess last night in our lesson, but she was still totally amazing. Also, I like alliteration. I only got to ride May once this weekend since my mom was in town for a visit. However, since I had someone with me on Saturday, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to work continue to work on the idea of May listening my cues regarding what lead to land on over fences without sacrificing our balance, rhythm, or straightness.

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Random old media

We popped over a few fences to warm up. Again, I just kept the emphasis on landing on the lead I was asking for, and she was really listening and getting into the “game”. I decided that we would go for pulling a little course together.

Then I jumped around a little course. After the first line, she landed on the left lead (her favorite), even though we were clearly turning right after it. I corrected her by moved her off my right leg before picking up the canter again. We popped over a little vertical over a liverpool to change directions. (Again, no issues landing on the left lead).

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Then, I decided to really test my correction. I jumped a vertical diagonal and then made right, bending line, to an oxer with the intention of turning right after the oxer. This did a couple of things. It gave May the opportunity to fall through her right shoulder while turning right, while also finishing at a jump that is square to the rail (i.e. could easily turn right OR left after).

And you know what? She landed on the right lead. So I gave her pats and let her be done with that.

So last night, I came out to my lesson with the plan of working on the same concept over a longer, more complicated course. (outside line, diagonal, bending line isn’t exactly a SJ course…) As always, Mandy did not disappoint.

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The first exercise was a gymnastic along the short side of the arena. It contained 4 rails as one stride bounces, an oxer, one stride to a last placing rail. Since it was set along the short side, you only really had one or two straight strides before the first pole and had to turn immediately after the placement pole after the jump. AND we came at the whole thing from our right lead.

The first time through? I kicked May past her point of balance and, while she fixed it because she’s awesome, it was not pretty. We came through again, and I figured out the right balance, while maintaining the forward. Like all my jumping, I had to really remember to move her right shoulder over coming around the turn to help us stay straight.

Mandy put the oxer up a bit, and we cruised through again. By this point, May had figured out the game, so it became my job to keep her as straight as possible. Even when I didn’t do the best job of that, she still landed on her right lead, so I felt pretty confident about our ability to bring that new still over to course work.

Our first course was over the liverpool, bending to the black oxer, right turn to the pink oxer, and around to the yellow line. There were a couple of bogies in this course. First, the liverpool was on the ground with no standards or anything over it, so it was a bit like riding a ditch. Fun fact, May could care less about ditches but always puts a HUGE effort over liverpools the first time she jumps them.

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5A and B we added in the second course. 

This time was no exception as she jumped a bit long with her knees around her eyeballs and even jumped us past our line a bit. As a result, I had to really contain the right shoulder and get her super straight to the oxer. We ended up a bit right of center but were straight as a pin, so it rode great.

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The left turn to the pink oxer was a hard turn for us. It was both away from home and a sharp left turn. I wrangled the right shoulder a bit late (when we were almost already out of the turn), and then didn’t have the impulsion I needed. I added leg, but the distance wasn’t there. HOWEVER, I am super happy that I made the decision to add leg vs. either making NO decision (my favorite) or pulling (also my favorite). May can get us out of most ugly situations as long as I ride forward.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t get our right lead over the pink oxer. I corrected it, and came down to the yellow line. Now, it is worth noting that the yellow line was deliberately set at 4.5 strides. I find that once you get above 4 strides, it becomes a bit of a choice on a horse like May regarding if you want to add or ride the forward stride. The first time to it, she jumped a bit under the oxer coming into it, and just lost her balance on the landing side, so I gave a fairly firm correction (deep seat, leg on, lifting hands).

It was the right call though, since the firm correction during the first 2 strides allowed me to soften into the last five strides. AND it left her in a good enough balance to land on the right lead. (on Saturday, this was the jump where she wanted to always land left). Not a perfect first course, but one where I made good decisions and May listened to me.

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At this point, Mandy got to listen to my word vomit about all the things I needed to do the next time. Seriously, I am not sure how that woman puts up with me. No matter how long-winded I get in my blog posts, trust me, I am WAY MORE rambly in person. However, here were my takeaways:

  • Keep my right leg on over my liverpool, so we don’t shoot past the line for the oxer.
  • Counter bend a bit BEFORE the turn to the pink so that I can wrangle that shoulder early and then ride forward through the corner.
  • I have a long ride from the pink to the yellow line, so make sure that, while i need to push her forward for a bit, I get the balance back BEFORE the oxer.

So we did it again, and I WISH I had video of it. (It kept raining on and off last night, so made it a bit hard to have the phones out.) This second time, though, we added in the purple line, which was a vertical, on stride, to an oxer off the right lead. This was set for a true one stride, so a bit open for May.

As expected, the liverpool jump was a bit more reasonable this time, so I got a better line to the oxer. I landed and checked in on that right shoulder before riding forward around the turn. I know you are all shocked to know that the pink rode super well when I did my job.

Again, she landed on the left lead after the pink. (UGH) However, this time I just kept the counter canter. She jumped MUCH better over the yellow oxer, and I saw the four strides being RIGHT there. So I just kept my shoulders back and my leg on, and it was easy peasy.

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I cut the right turn to the one stride. I KNOW I KNOW. BUT I did get SUPER straight to it on a nice open stride and May happily pinged through it. All the pats, all the cookies. Good girl! At that point, we decided to be done. It wasn’t a ton of jumping, but with a hunter pace this weekend, I wanted to keep it a bit on the lighter side.

Don’t worry though, Mandy got a solid 8 minutes of word vomit after that round too. Mostly about how I actually executed on my plan and how May actually listened to me and OMG isn’t she the BEST.

If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at. Right?

Riding Through the Ugly

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.

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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.

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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.

Learning the Feel of New Things

Last night, we had our first Dressage lesson in a while. In all honesty, the purpose of this lesson was two-fold, I felt like May had kind of been blowing through me a lot lately, and I wanted to see if the magnawave/massage session had any effect on the flat, where it would be easier to assess than over fences.

When it comes to the blowing off thing, it’s not (usually) a blatant throwing of the head and running off with me. Although, it can be. It’s more that she sort of gives me something, I ask for a little more, and she… doesn’t give me any more. Or I make a correction, and she goes “Nah, I got this.” The correct response is typically to ask more firmly (Ask, Tell, Demand sequence).

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However, I have a tendency to back off and blame myself. Oh she must not be moving off my leg because I am sitting wrong, or blocking her, or whatever. So by myself, I might back down. This hasn’t been an issue for the last 4 years because we were securely in the position of “things I know.”

I am fairly comfortable in my ability to get a horse to bend, move through its body, connect into the bridle, etc etc etc. At least through a training level frame. When it comes to First Level stuff, I have gotten enough training to generally know how to put those most of those moves on a horse.

Now though, I am asking for more. I am asking for better leg yields, true shoulder in, and the beginnings of real counter canter work. And truly, I don’t really know what I am doing.

Case and point: Last night, my trainer asked me to do a 20M circle at the trot. Cool. Simple. Got it. We played around with my lack of geometry a bit (oops), and then she asked me to do a shoulder in along the circle. Our shoulder ins down the long side are solid enough that we should be able to do this exercise, and it is a great way to add flexibility through the rib cage (one of our issues) and encourage the hind end to come under the horse (another issue).

May Walk

I tried for about half a circle before doing a walk transition and walking over to Mandy, “yeah, what am I supposed to be doing?”

I realized that I was trying to pull her around the circle with my inside rein (not helpful), while trying to shove her haunches out with my inside leg (also… not helpful). A shoulder-in can originally be guided with the inside aids, but it really is an outside aid exercise. So… I knew I was doing it wrong, but I Could Not wrap my head around what I SHOULD be doing. If I was riding by myself, I would drop the exercise and go back to something I definitely know how to do.

Mandy, bless her, did not miss a beat. She started drawing diagrams in the sand about the 20 cm circle, the angle I was looking for and what May’s body should be doing. I nodded along, that all made sense. Then, she broke down the aids for me. Showing me the “extreme” versions of what my aids should be doing and then connecting that back to how that will influence May’s body to engage in the shoulder-in move.

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A few more nods, and I headed back out to my 20M circle.  This time? It only took me about 1/4 of the circle to get it. At that point, Mandy starts yelling at me about what I should be feeling, “Feel her coming off that inside rein? Feel the inside hind coming under her body more?” These little tidbits of feel become my way of checking in when I do this on my own. My aids are doing X, so am I getting Y?

(off topic, but I found this after my lessons, and I thought it was pretty helpful: Random French Dude’s Advice on Shoulder-In)

Going in the other direction (tracking right), the exercise was substantially more difficult for us, so when we got a couple of good steps, I let May move forward into a straighter contact. However, this time, I was able to more effectively tackle the more difficult side because I had gotten the “Feel” cues from my trainer already.

To me, these are the building blocks of good instruction. My trainer has given me the tools to continue my horse’s training beyond my lessons. As for the magnawave, I am not sure I really felt any change in May’s way of going after it. It clearly felt good, but I don’t think the right shoulder issue is a pain thing, as much as it is a training thing. As a result, a pain management tool didn’t fix our training. Oh well. 😉

Getting Comfortable with More Height

This lesson was a bit different than our usual lessons because we ended up doing a semi-private instead of a private lesson! The girl in the lesson before me jumps a bit bigger than I do on her horse, but when her horse lost a shoe while she was warming up yesterday, she ended up taking a catch ride on another friend’s horse (barefoot horses for the win).

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Since I was already pretty much tacked up, a bit behind schedule, and it was 90-something degrees out with humidity, I asked her if she wanted to share the lesson. Luckily, she said yes!

I gave May a super light warm up, since the heat really isn’t her friend. Then, the lesson started really simply. We just looped a figure 8 back and forth over two verticals. The idea was so keep the balance through the turn and get straight before the jumps. It was a good exercise to get me focused on managing that right shoulder.

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This face says it all. 

When we reversed the exercise, Mandy put the jumps up a bit. May and I are pretty comfortable with the whole 2’3″ to 2’6″ thing. However, this lesson ended up pushing a little over the upper end of that. Honestly, I think if it was a private, I would have chickened out.

Once we figured out our rhythm, balance, and straightness over the figure 8, we moved onto course work. We did the same course as last week, but we added the two stride combination to it.

Good thing this little mare is game…

Now, the set up of that two stride was REALLY hard for me. We jumped big over the corner… then I CHASED her to try to get 6 strides… which didn’t work… then I jumped up her neck… (enjoy the below pic)

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Can I say again how lucky I am to have this little mare?

Luckily, I have mostly fixed my historic reaction to this mistake. Not so long ago, I would have pulled to try to shove 3 strides into the two stride… Now, I kicked on and focused on getting her super straight. Guess what? We were able to jump out of it fine. I kept that rhythm around the rest of the course, and everything else worked out really well. The jumps I was the most concerned about (the corner and the triple bar) rode the best.

Then, we did the same course again. May, by this point, was hot and tired, so you can see her just kind of getting lazy with the verticals, but I was super happy with this course. Perfect? Nope, but I made the necessary changes and smoothed most of it out really well.

You can see the full video below:

When It Clicks – Jump Lesson Recap

Once again, I walked into a jump lesson feeling totally dumpy. Stress and hormones were taking their toll, and as I warmed up, I felt like my body was loose and unwieldy. Why couldn’t I sit in the saddle or put my leg on right or do anything right? The world may never know.

As usual, I debated about telling my trainer (can we just call her Mandy now?) that I wanted to keep it easy and simple and whatever. Also as usual, I didn’t. I took the hour of time to lay myself at her feet and let her do what she thought was best. Sometimes, that is oddly therapeutic.

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I finally managed to jump the middle 😉

Our first exercise was a classic… but something that I realized I had never done with May. We trotted into a 4 stride line. Halted, and then cantered out over a low, wide oxer. It got… better… but we never really nailed it. May think that whole idea is dumb. We should just jump the thing and then the other thing, no stopping needed. She did, however, jump the stuff out of the oxer EVERY TIME. Seriously, this is probably the best thing we have ever done to help strengthen her back end.

Since it was so hot (mid 80s with humidity and no breeze, yuck), we didn’t want to push things too much, so after doing the line exercise a few times, we moved onto a course.

Almost asked Mandy to make this one smaller/narrower…

The course was a short approach to the pink vertical, bending right to the oxer, loop left over the corner fence, long approach to another wide oxer, right turn over the plank vertical, then a long approach to the triple bar. I do not doubt that the reason both approached to the long oxer were off the left lead is because I tend to let May fade right on that lead.

This time though, I didn’t! For years, we have worked on getting the right balance and rhythm. Now? We are adding the straightness, and it is clearly making ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

I honestly got a bit lost going to the first jump, so I just put my leg on and got her straight. She jumped it great but a bit big… and I panicked and cut my turn to the oxer. It kind of surprised her, but she jumped the snot out of it.

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The left turn to the corner was great. We got a bit close, but I would rather do that then take a flyer to a corner. I kind of just let her coast around until we made the turn to the red black and white oxer. I really pushed her off my inside leg. While she was surprised by the slightly bigger height of it and tapped the rail, she landed on the right lead. Yay!

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Almost asked Mandy to make this one smaller/narrower…

I should’ve kept her moving through the corner but didn’t, so we had a bit of a long spot to the plank. The nice thing about the plank is it looks a bit more solid, so she jumped it night. Then the triple bar. Mandy specifically told me to just keep my leg on to it and DON’T PULL. So I didn’t I got her straight off my leg, kept my leg on, and she jumped it great!

So was it hoof perfect? Nope, but it was the best I have ridden a course on the first try in a LONG TIME… like maybe ever. And, it’s a long way from this Way Back Wednesday Post!

Since it was so good, we decided to just end on that. No point in making a pony tired when she just laid down a trip like that!

A Not Bad, Very Good Lesson

Let me start out by saying that… I did not want to ride last night. I did not want to see my horse last night. I did not want to interact with the world last night. If it was actually a thing that dark clouds follow you when you are in a bad mood, mine had lightning, tornadoes, and hail.

This is about right. 

I thought about canceling. I thought about just doing a Dressage lesson. I thought about asking NT to keep it simple and boring. I thought about a million ways to make sure I just didn’t make things worse. And then, I did none of those things.

I threw on my jump tack and headed over to the ring. Let NT know I was in a shitty mood in general, since I was oddly quiet and reserved starting out. And then I just did what she told me to. May… started out like a total lug head. She just wanted to LEAN on that right shoulder like her life depended on it.

So again, we started with the nice long approaches to the gymnastic set in the middle. This time, they were set as low verticals, so we just looped around, asking for shorter and longer distances until I felt like she was mostly settled.

Then, we moved onto the more straight forward gymnastic along the outside of the arena. Four verticals set on slightly short two strides, loop through the middle to catch the vertical and change direction and then back up the same gymnastic going the other way. Nice easy and something we actually jumped on our own a few weeks ago. The jumps were set super small, maybe 2′.

after we raised the gymnastic… 

So maybe I rode into it a little lackadaisical… and May was still dead set on running through that right shoulder. So… we jumped into the gymnastic, and she fell right. I kicked on, and she decided to jump SUPER big and SUPER round through it… Ummm ok mare. The vertical was fine. Then back up the gymnastic the other way… I over compensated for the right drift and we went left… Just ride STRAIGHT hahaha.

We did the same gymnastic to vertical on the diagonal combination to fix the right drift issue. Then, we turned right and looped around to another vertical. Left turn and over the oxer. It’s the first clip in the video at the bottom. (Sorry the first clip is so dark… not totally sure what happened there)

Weee!

Honestly, it all went swimmingly and I was really happy about it. May was still kind of being a lug head after fences, but at least she wasn’t dragging me down to everything anymore. I am proud of myself for putting my leg on to the oxer. Coming around the corner… I saw nothing, so I just put my leg on and it worked out. NT pointed out that I am a bit lucky that May is forward thinking because a horse that is less confident probably wouldn’t have just stepped up like that.

Since May was just kind of running through the gymnastic (not the point of a gymnastic), NT raised them up 2 holes. I wanted to throw up, but threw that feeling into my back pocket. This time, we went down the two, then looped left to the oxer. We took the inside turn to the corner fence… which I jumped conservatively… Then fixed the lead and did basically nothing going to the vertical on the diagonal. Hard miss there.

Then… I decided to just canter over one of the poles marking the dressage arena… and May hopped over it in the most awkward manner and landed cross cantering. Cool mare. Soooo then I realized I kind of needed to hustle that cross canter forward to get to the gymnastic ok. I did that… and then just had to balance through the combination. THEN, we jumped over our makeshift “water jump” hahaha. It was a skinny into a puddle. But, it was good to practice because May REALLY wanted to drift left to avoid getting her toes wet.

Since we decided that May had the hang of the gymnastic and oxer, we decided to just do the corner jump, vertical and “water” jump. I really smoothed out the first two (yay!) but was still jumping the water awkwardly. I did it one last time, smoothed it out, and we were done!

After a lesson like that, it was no surprise that my little black cloud lifted. I know it’s pretty rare to have a mare that you can depend on day in and day out, but I am so thankful for mine. ❤

I did actually remember to put my helmet cam on, so hopefully I will be able to share that footage later this week… Wordless Friday? hahaha