I felt like I was wandering into a confessional as Connor and I walked toward my trainer in the open jump field across the road for our first lesson in two weeks.
"So...I feel like I have completely forgotten how to ride since I got back. Tuesday's ride was not good."
"ME TOO!" my trainer said. "My first few rides back were weird. It gets better quickly, though."
Phew. So I'm not the only one!
|Open field jumping from nearly three years ago,.|
She's moved tons of the stadium jumps out into the open field, so we had lots to play with. We focused on two things: staying relaxed, and staying balanced.
Regarding staying relaxed, I noticed that I was tensing up a few strides out from the jump, which made him gain speed and rush it. I exhaled audibly on the approach and felt like I was hovering above him in a half seat as he took me to fence...and he didn't change his pace, or stutter step. It felt great!
|Happy pony getting some post-ride grazing.|
She also had me think about "not letting his head bob so much." And she commented later that she didn't have to tell me how to do it, she just told me what to do, and I did the right thing through feel. When left to his own devices, every canter stride ends with him REALLY on his forehand, and it feels like riding a dolphin. If I encourage him to keep his withers more level, he stays balanced...
...which was the second part of our lesson. She had me really think about preparing him well in advance of and during turns (on slippery grass), and had me think about "putting our Dressage to work for us" before transitions and during the ride.
Between me staying quiet and also focusing on balance, we had some of the nicest jumping rounds ever. Smooth, with no hesitation, no wiggling, and only a couple of wonky distances - on a downhill line where the first jump was set diagonally and the second one was straight on. I mean...I feel like that would get the best of us, right?
Now to get that kind of ride in the ring too!