September 18, 2014

Connor Enjoys Some Jump Lesson "Torture"

You know your jump lesson is serious when a Training rider walks by the arena, stops and goes, "Whoa.  That looks like torture.  What is she doing to you?"

Training rider and his awesome horse, a saintly TB/DWB who's gone up to the 1* level.

"Careful!" I turned around and yelled back, "She'll make you do this tomorrow!"

We're continuing with the general idea of getting Connor to think faster.  He's not lazy or slow by nature, it's there, I just have to unlock it by making him do things quicker than I've done in the past.

So this is what the arena looked like:

Started out as crossrails, quickly became verticals.

And this is how I thought she'd want me to do it:

Blue star is where we started, and repeat means go back down the arena taking each fence, not go back to the start.

Wrong!  What she wanted me to do is make the fences come up quickly for him, and everything that goes along with that, so lead changes etc.

I asked her about why we weren't going to the rail and doing nice straight lines, especially since she is the QUEEN of "use the available space to improve your line/ride", and she said we weren't working on that tonight.  This exercise could be ridden with that goal in mind, but that wasn't our goal.

The first few times we did it, we felt like a pile of body parts throwing ourselves over the fence.  She explained that I needed to put my hip forward of the lead I wanted after the current fence - so I needed to ride with the next fence in mind at the fence I was over - and I was like "I just don't know if I can coordinate all my body parts that well."  "That's why we're doing this - you need to be more aware of what your body is telling him to do, and he needs to pay closer attention to your body."


After we got a feel for it, and for jumping the "outside" of the fences (you can sort of see that in my diagram), it got better.  He started getting the right lead off the fence, and we were doing some crazy tight turns.  Forget jumper turns, this was like jumping a 2' vertical off a 12m circle!

The thing that struck me about getting him to think faster over fences is that he felt so similar to the lessons in which we try to get him to think faster in Dressage.  The pony likes the challenge, he likes to think, he thrives on that stuff - even when he was getting tired, he was still getting amped up when I gathered up the reins to start the exercise again.  I don't always get that feeling from doing less challenging exercises with him.

I had fun too - even though we were in the ring, there was something eventer-y about the "get the F over the fence whatever it looks like" attitude the exercise had.  To be clear, we don't motorcycle around like this all the time, there was a point to this exercise!

The only thing he was not happy about was not getting his lead changed (simple) quickly enough - he HATED being on the wrong lead on a circle that small, and sort of thought about offering a flying change once or twice, but he didn't believe in himself enough to go through with it.  Based on the experience with his lack of confidence in the canter, I know it will be more of the same with a flying change - but luckily we're eventers and we don't have to have a lead change until...prelim?


  1. Ah. The lead change thing!! So weird!!


  2. yea.... that looks REALLY challenging. esp w/o having a lead change (a struggle for us as well, tho Izzy *thinks* she's got the solution in cross cantering... uh, no)

    sounds like Connor was having fun tho - so maybe the lesson will stick?

  3. I just did this the other day! No lead changes until Intermediate I dont think :)

  4. ooo that does look like good tortureful fun!

  5. I've used this exercise in teaching and it's lovely for all kinds of things.

    Lead changes will come. A lot of horses get frantic when they feel drilled by them. I'm not sure when you need the lead change in the dressage (I'm a show jumper), but as long as you factor in the simple change in your stride counts in the jumping you're probably fine, right? Or holding the counter lead as long as he can stay balanced.

  6. Ooooh what an interesting exercise. I'm filing it in the back of my mind for later.

  7. HA,HA Mom set that up for Comrade and me not too long ago. Plus my old instructor made me do it with Barry. I have also been told to keep the same lead and circle down through it. That was fun too. It is a very effective exercise.