May 28, 2012

Clinic Wrap-Up Day Two

Day two found us in a group with Louie/Heather (lesson student) and Erica/Harley (lesson student/horse owner).  Cathy likes to work one-on-one with a student, which I really liked because she would stick with you til you got whatever concept she was trying to teach.  After a warmup in which we once again established those good canter transitions, she started us going back and forth over a simple crossrail.  Drilling that one fence over and over gave me a chance to think about how my position affected his takeoff and confidence.  I liked that she didn't nitpick little things, like my wrists, but talked about how my overall position affected him and what to do about it.  (This along with her yelling, "You're riding pretty!  Don't ride to be pretty, ride the ride your horse needs!" led me to prettymuch fall in love with her.)

Again, photos by Hannah B.  Incredibly grateful that someone took photos of us for once!  13.3hh of pony power!

Over the crossrail she reinforced the idea that because he's not as long as a big horse, it's even more important that I ride to the fence with my legs, not my shoulders; so I'm driving him to it, but not ahead of his motion or center of gravity.  After we had done that several times, we repeated the crossrail > five/six strides > oxer exercise from yesterday, and it was much improved over yesterday.  I can see in a lot of these pictures that my position (shockingly...) appears to be solid, but my shoulders are about 4" in front of where they should be.  Something to work on.

Finally, we started putting cross-country fences in.  Over these, she called him a careful jumper (hooray!) and said that with a careful jumper, it's really important to regulate the rhythm going up to the fence so that his feet don't get going too fast for his brain to analyze and process the fence.  It's true that he's proven to be careful, he didn't hit a rail the entire weekend, even when we had some really poor takeoffs and once when he was jumping the oxer essentially from a standstill.  That's a good trait in a cross-country horse.  (Can you tell I'm psyched about this?  I am STOKED.)

Our last exercise was a log, to a log, to the jump made of three wooden barrels on top of the hill, barrels opposite direction down the hill to a baby trakhener log.  I was trotting to the fences but cantering away, and if it was a good canter, letting him go a bit.  He'd never jumped the barrels before, and in fact had spooked at them while just walking by them the week before.  He'd also never jumped a log with open air underneath it.  Guess what?  Both went PERFECTLY, and he didn't even take a peek!  My feel that his confidence built with every new thing he did was correct.  He may still spook at stupid things, but he's learning that if we're jumping, we're working, and work means point-and-jump for him.

She ended that exercise by having me canter him up the hill, walk, establish that quiet sitting trot, then picking up the canter transition on the downhill.  She said that those type of activities would improve his canter, and with as much progress as we made in those two days, I completely believe her.  His canter was night-and-day different from Saturday morning to Sunday.

Wrap-up coming soon!


  1. Sounds like you had an awesome weekend of riding with your little man!!! Love the pictures - he looks like a nice tidy jumper. :-)

  2. Thanks! He is a tidy jumper for the most part. I haven't posted the pictures in which he's jumping lazily with his front end, hoping that's just part of the learning process for a green horse.