August 9, 2013

Jump Lesson

Sorry for the silence lately - things are not good around here on a personal level.  We're having one of those 'when it rains, it pours' spells.

Tired jumping llama
Connor and I jumped for the first time in a month last night, and my trainer was delighted with how much of an effect the work we've put into my body and his canter has had.  He was taking off appropriately close to the fences, and had a more powerful jump as a result.  She bumped the fences up to 2'3, which feels huge to both of us, and he made a huge, but easy, effort, and his efforts got progressively more appropriate as we went on.  Also, the positioning of the fences and ground lines was the same as it was for the Chris clinic, when we couldn't get it together because it was hard for Connor, so clearly that's some measured improvement.  I needed that.

For the first time, she took a stab at where she thought he'd max out, and said that she knows he can do Training (3'3).  Beyond that, it's going to be hard, but not entirely impossible, since he's just 14.2hh14.0hh (I don't know how tall my horse is!), but he's an athletic and scopey 14.2hh 14.0hh.  As I am a giant chicken that didn't think I'd ever jump again as of 2 1/2 years ago, I'm not sure if I ever want to go beyond Training myself, so I am totally cool with this!

There were a lot of learning moments last night, and moments where "he was good to you".  He hit the 2'3 in of a two fence gymnastic with one stride ground poles in between, and got blue paint on his boots to prove it:

Lesson learned, since he didn't hit it again.  Also, as has been the case for the past few months since Greater Dayton, there were no runouts, no wiggling and no refusals.  Even when we took one of the elements of the gymnastic on the diagonal, my trainer was delighted to note that he locked on multiple strides out and never questioned that we were jumping first a cross-rail, then a 2'3 vertical, diagonally.  It's still such a big change from pre-GDHT that it amazes me.

As for me, the lesson before mine ended during my warmup time, so my trainer silently watched us warm up for 15 minutes (it was a little intimidating and awkward!) and after I told her about my body position revelations last week, she noted this week that my left leg swings wildly at the trot with every stride, while the right doesn't move.  That would be hip mobility!  She had me really focus on keeping it stable and properly getting my calf on him/left leg around him.  It physically hurt to do so, and is frustrating, because I know what I need to do but my body is almost unable to do it.  We also worked on:

  • Not chasing him around a tight corner heading to a jump
  • Not using clucks (very effective on this sensitive pony) as a substitute for my inability to put my leg on
  • Keeping my leg on him when I am out of the saddle (We think I'm taking my left leg on him when I stand, which is why he tends to die with me in that position)
  • Staying tight over bigger fences when he makes more of an effort than I'm used to.  There's a real level of muscle engagement and tension necessary for jumping that I never realized until recently.  Now that I realized that, I'm getting jumped out of the tack a lot less.
  • Couple of strides of haunches in/turn on the haunches before asking for the canter.  Made a big difference!
Also, my night started with chiseling my chestnut pony out from underneath a multi-colored rainbow of mud.  It rained for the first time in a couple of weeks yesterday, and he clearly took advantage!:


That fine shower of dirt was curried off of his body



  1. Hope things get better for you personally. 3'3" is giant to me, I wouldn't want to go higher than that :)

    1. Glad I am not alone! 3'3 is huge and things that don't fall down at 3'3 are even scarier. But maybe my perception will change as I progress, I don't know.

  2. Hope things are ok. Horses are a great relief from the stresses life throws at us. Sounds like you really needed a good lesson and you got one!

  3. When did he grow 2"? I missed that, jk.
    Anyway 3'3" is an achievable goal. Barry at 13.3h did wonderful at 2'9" and schooled well over 3'. He never got the chance to go higher, but he had the scope.
    By time you get to that height, you will be a well tuned partnership and the height won't be a problem.
    The jumps do seem bigger when you ride a pony versus a horse though.

    1. You are so right, I edited my post. I don't know how tall my own pony is! Yeah, 3'3 is like, up to his eyeballs, you're right about it looking different from a pony.

    2. I rode a halfie pony and jumped 2'9". It felt bigger when he jumped, but he was such an awesome little pony that it really didn't looked that much bigger. I don't know. It totally depends on the pony under you. ;) Heights are so relative.

    3. Definitely, Aimee. I was more comfortable on Barry than our Morgan,15.2h over fences because they had different attitudes about jumps.
      Barry thought he was 16h, so height did not intimidate him.

  4. Keeping you in my thoughts that personal life is on the upswing soon!

    Super job jumping Connor - maybe you all will jump on down to KY sometime to show!

  5. Hope things get better. Yay for jumping!

  6. All I can hear when reading your first photo caption is "llama, llama, duck ..."