Lesson Wrap-Up: Jump Lesson!!!

Dressage show recaps still coming, but OMG you guys - we jumped last night and it was awesome!

I hadn't been able to ride since the show thanks to work, and it was my last ride for 8 days also thanks to work.  I thought, I don't feel like a fussy Dressage ride that I'll forget by the next time I ride anyway, let's jump!  Also, sometimes my butt misses my CWD and I just need a moment with it, y'know?

Then I looked out at the grassy field and saw this:

Why yes, that is a full size Dressage court at my eventing barn.  One girl going 1* and a couple of Dressage nuts and voila!  The extra pieces get pulled out of storage.

and I felt a little guilty for not drilling the Dressagey things we so need to work on now that the BO was nice enough to extend the Dressage ring to full size.  So I sent this text to my trainer and got this response:
OF COURSE she wants me to jump.

But guys!  It was the first time we had jumped in months, and it was awesome.  We spent the whole lesson doing singles, starting with a walk pirouette to canter transition in order to get him balanced before we started.  Crossrails, verticals and oxers, up to 2' ish.  

I did have to clean my fuzzy jump tack.  This is TWO WEEKS growth after I last cleaned it.  It's not just my tack, everyone's looks like this right now.  I think my ammonia solution lost its effectiveness over the winter, time to make a new batch,

I had enough impulsion to half halt him before the fence.  I had adjustability.  We were seeing distances together.  I was landing with my lower leg and feet underneath me!  He jumped every single jump like a normal horse.  He landed on his leads almost the entire time.

"And it's kind of a good test for your Dressage, because all of the times he's landed on the wrong lead, he's not really been balanced or straight."

Also, story for another day, but I rode him in a running martingale for the first time yesterday - per Denny Emerson, to help more with his hindquarters than his head - and I really liked it.

I had a lot of fun, I hope he had fun.  He definitely attacked it more from his levelheaded analytical Dressage mindset than the old scrambly brain-can't-work-fast-enough jumping mindset he used to have.  I harbor no illusions that he'll suddenly love jumping as much as he loves Dressage, but he has certainly grown more competent at it as he's gotten more aware of his own body, and stronger, through our Dressage training.  It's nice to know we can pull it out every so often for a change of pace.



For once, I have a great show recap and more pictures of me sitting on my horse than I know what to do with (1,218 pictures, to be exact, it's a miracle!) and I have absolutely zero time in which to write about it thanks to work!  I'm hoping to blog about it on the plane to Vegas on Friday evening.

(Side note: are there any bloggers in Vegas?  I'm there for work all next week.  There's a tack shop there that appears to be the only stateside tack store that carries the CWD conditioner right now, you can bet I'll be making an appearance there, but it would be great to do it with another blogger!)

In summary, though: I went in to my first rated with no expectations and came out with the score I needed for ride offs, both of my First Level bronze scores, and a shiny, shiny horse.

So shiny, all thanks to supergroom Mary.

But we don't take ourselves THAT seriously.

Mary's method of getting Connor from the barn where we park our trailers to Connor's barn had everyone laughing hysterically.  Yes, he's still braided, yes, she rode a quarter mile down the street like that, and yes, those boots are fabulous.

Catch you all on Friday!


Lesson Wrap-Up: Paradigm Shift

One of the tenets about my new position is letting go of the tension I normally harbor in my legs and letting myself sit on the horse and follow his position with my hips.  This has led to feels I've never felt before, and a really cool lesson Thursday night.

A very cool and tiring lesson.  He let the crossties hold his head up during his bath afterward.

We started out doing a mixture of shallow loops with distinct bend changes, mixed in with 12m circles to establish more bend when necessary.  The loops were varying sizes and distances, and the point was to get him even in both shoulders.

He started out doing it fine on the right and not so fine on the left, of course, you guys know that by now.  But this time, she told me to think about bringing his left shoulder over with the left rein, almost like a plow rein, when he wasn't on it/was more on the right.

I tried that out and somehow magically got the timing right almost from the beginning.  It felt like I was massaging the left rein to the inside of the circle while the left foreleg was in the air.

Proof that we don't have problems with ALL tents, just certain tents.

Within a minute or two, he stood up underneath me and stopped piling all his weight on the right shoulder.  Lightbulb #1:  I've been trying to solve the left bend/right shoulder problem by blocking Connor from putting all his weight on the right shoulder, when what I really needed to be doing is the opposite: say "Come over here onto the left shoulder" instead of "Don't go onto the right shoulder".

Even cooler, he quickly became straight and even without any of the tension I normally get when I make him straighten up.  His mouth was soft and playful.

We started to work on fixing this problem in that lesson too, although the big breakthroughs happened and the trot and walk.

We were playing with the same thing at the trot a little while later, on a 12m circle, when my trainer said, "You're so much in the right rein, he can't bring his right shoulder around."  I released the right rein and IMMEDIATELY I saw and felt his weight and withers go right, and the left shoulder came through more.  And then I repeated it a couple times because inquiring minds want to know if that was a fluke, or a real thing.

Lightbulb #2: His inability to give me left bend is at least partially caused by me preventing his right side from coming around the left side with too much right/outside rein.

Let go of the right rein, self!
Once he was straight, we played with those concepts at the canter, and really tried to affect the canter from within the canter, which is not something I've done a lot of up to this point.  It's time, though.


HCHC Schooling Show Photos: 1-3

And, for your #failfriday, drumroll please... 1-3.  Thanks again to Paul Wood for these amazing photos!

Note the ears: if Connor's ears are not on me, he's not on my aids.  

Well, um...this started well.

Just passed the judge for the first time, and he did not like it.

The classic pulling breed pose: tense throatlatch, strong underneck.  He's flipping me the bird.

Usually one of our best movements...usually...

"You want me to canter AWAY from that scary tent?  That I can do!"

This whole next series of five pictures is hilarious.  Me trying to keep Connor on or close to the rail, Connor saying "NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE".  Not pictured: a spook that occurred in the middle of these photos that made me lose my stirrup in the last three.

Um, at least he's fancy when he's spooking?

No bonus points for knee action in Dressage, little buddy.  Not sure if that was due to judge, mud or both.  Spook happened right before this picture.

So cute, so tense.

What's hard to see is how far off the rail I had to ride to control him here.

He's cantering very strongly, and we have a simple change through the trot at X, and he was totally ignoring me, which leads to....

One more time, because I can't end on that downward transition picture.
The good news is:
- I'm not disappointed by this ride.
- I learned a valuable lesson.
- I got some amazing pictures out of it, which is the point of my riding career at this stage I think.
- I changed my entry for the rated show to ride 1-3 both days to try and get a 60%.
- The rated show is at the Hoosier Horse Park, so hopefully we'll have less shenanigans...
- Our scores were still good enough to make us First Level Champions of the schooling show, and we should be getting mailed an award from that.  We've never been champions of anything, so that's pretty cool!


HCHC Schooling Show Photos: 1-2

I have been so lucky with photos this summer.  I went from not having photos taken of me riding in six months, to getting full sets of show photos from Lisa, and now from Kelly's husband Paul.  I am so grateful to have these!

First up, 1-2 in the grass ring.

His one moment of almost freaking out, before we went into the ring: there was a lawn mower he could hear, but not see, right on the other side of those trees.

Relaxed and listening,
Little bit of tension still in the leg yields, but they've improved a lot.  Also DAMN I'm sitting up straight.
Repeat after me: sitting back does not help with lengthenings.
Mid-head shake

So cute.


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