April 27, 2013

A Difficult Jumping Lesson

This week's lesson started out with some really difficult (for both of us) Dressage work, and ended with some really difficult (for me) jump work.  It was one of those lessons in which you switch gears mid-lesson so hard that it takes you halfway through the jump lesson to realize that the Dressage work was absolutely related to and intended to improve the jump work.  Lesson learned.

Arrested Development fans?  Anyone?
Our previous lesson involved moving his ribcage, and we took that a step further by working on leg yields and haunches in.  I've never really succeeded in haunches in before, and I felt like a pretzel as I tried to do what she asked with my body.  I was concentrating so hard, I would often forget what direction I was supposed to be turning in.  Does anyone have any good recommended reading on haunches-in for those of us who can't coordinate their limbs, think and ride at the same time?  I need to study this and think about it while I'm not on a horse.

Happy pony loves the Micklem.
After that we moved on to poles, and then jumping.  She set up three ground poles in a "circle of death minus one" configuration, and here is where we really had to work.  I have struggled with our canter transitions, because I felt like I would ask, he would launch forward, and I would have to follow with my hands or else he'd hit them and break.  My trainer pointed out that when that happened, the canter was flat and runny from the beginning, and the circle of death was out of control.  What I needed to do was SIT ON MY HORSE and ask.  Less of a hand change, more of a body position change.  And, duh, it worked.

She then changed one of the poles to a crossrail, and here's where it got hard.  We would come off the rail on the left rein to the X at the 3:00 position, then a pole at the 12:00 position and a pole at the 9:00 position.  If we came in hot, or if his shoulder was bulging because I turned him too late, things went to crap.  Here is where she pointed out that if I just got the inside hind to move around that turn the same way I did in the Dressage portion of the lesson twenty minutes earlier, the whole jumping exercise was better.  Another 'duh' moment!  If I jumped ahead and stayed crouched over, like I so often do, things also went to crap.

Finally, she added another X 4 strides ahead of the X, so we would do one circle of death, then the second time around go straight at the X to the 4 stride line, and there was one time that I was so far ahead of him and things went so badly that she told me, kindly, that had that been an XC fence I could have gotten hurt jumping like that.  Tough love for me this time.  She said 'SIT UP' so many times in that lesson, and finally, by the end, there were signs of improvement; it was still a difficult and frustrating lesson on the whole.

The good news was that my drafty little pony was ON FIRE over the fences.  He was quick, sharp and into it in a way that I haven't often seen.  Then again, we haven't jumped much at all in months.  That's all going to change, as we now know what our first event is going to be...stay tuned!


  1. Hared lessons can suck but also be good. Sounds like you ended on a better note so that is good! :)

    Ordered the Vetrolin last night so I should be to you next week sometime :)

  2. I love lessons like that, not always while I'm riding, but they are the ones that really change my behavior in a meaningful way :)

    Love the arrested development reference. Best. Show. Ever!