January 5, 2013

Mary Comes to Visit

It's been nearly six months since my friend Mary last saw Connor go.  She's known me since the first day of college, she's seen me grow as a rider, she co-owned Venice with me, and now her practiced, accomplished eye is watching Connor and I grow up.  Today, she watched my lesson.

She also got a lesson on DJ out of the deal, and this accidental picture taken while I was trying to video is the most unflattering picture ever taken of either of them.  Sorry, guys.
After seeing him once last January, once in June, and again this month, she said that the biggest change she saw was in his mental attitude, and also in his canter transitions.  She saw when I could hardly get him to pick it up, let alone get the right lead, and for him to be picking it up every time I asked, on the right lead, and in a balanced manner was new.  She also said that it looked like he had grown up and was mentally able to handle everything we threw at him.  "It was just the way that you walked him up to the mounting block and he was like, 'Oh, okay,' rather than being nervous about everything around him."

He is growing up!

As far as the actual lesson went, we jumped!  First, we did some flatwork, and then went through a grid in which every other ground pole was raised by about 6" on one side.  She wanted a powerful, but contained, driving trot, and then after we had that down, we trotted through that, walked, picked up the canter, and jumped a small crossrail on the opposite long side.  It ended up feeling like a Dressage exercise that had a fence thrown in to remind us that jumping a fence is just another canter stride.

I'm having trouble figuring out the balance between keeping him going and being too forward/taking too much contact.  I half halt and he breaks, which caused a couple of discombobulated fences.  My trainer can get that compact, powerful, uphill canter out of him, but I haven't yet figured out how to really package him.  We'll get there.  Part of it will be conditioning.  Amazing that I want to jump so badly for so long, and then realize that I need more Dressage work before we do more jumping.

One thing I want to note for posterity is that he picked up the wrong lead in one spot, until she told me to move my inside leg forward as if to touch his shoulder.  Turns out I had my inside leg too far back on him, and it's not like I was going to toe his shoulder, but the imagery helped me keep my leg far forward of where I otherwise would have kept it.


  1. They grow up a lot between 5 & 6. Someone told me years ago that a four year old that's been easy to break will try everything as a five year old and then settle again at six and I've seen it happen many times.

    Looking forward to following your eventing journey this year.

  2. Loook forward t seeing what this year brings. Love that you figured out why he went off the wrong lead.

  3. Super fun! How cool to have a progress check like that.

  4. Very cool! 5-6 is defininttly a big change in my opinion. My trainers always say 7 is the magic number.

  5. Sounds like Connor is getting more sensitive to the aids, esp in canter. Great progress! I love how dressage influences jumping.

  6. Thanks, guys! Kelly, you are more right than you know, he's currently so sensitive to the canter aid from his training rides that he will often give me a step of canter into the trot. He'll figure that out eventually. Funny that you say that!