Friday, April 4, 2014

It’s not about the size of the jumps…

I could see the goal of the exercise from the beginning:
 - ride straight
 - keep your leg active

But, there was an element that I wasn’t initially aware of…
To make that line in 3 strides, I needed to push for a longer canter stride!

If we didn’t up the ante every time (in one element or another), I would be very disappointed in my coach and would probably go shopping.  While this minor detail (the 3 long strides) seems like a tiny thing, it is fundamental to my sport.  Elasticity is key.

It took me several tries to find the most appropriate canter (Although, coach seemed rather pleased with all of our canter options that day).  Fancy Pony was a little sassy at the arena ends…  The line looked like this: cross-rail to 3 long strides to cross-rail.  The ultimate goal was to ride: cross-rail, 1-stride to barrels, 1-stride to vertical.
Once I found my distance comfortable, Coach sent us through the other direction (we’re still in the 3 stride line), but raised the last one to a small vertical.  I couldn’t get my lengthened stride, and there wasn’t room for 4 strides, so the Sassy Pony launched from a really long spot!!
Bear in mind that while we are working on this (in our little indoor), there are also 3 beginner riders taking a lesson from another trainer around the perimeter of the same space!!!  Eeeek!
I knew I needed to ride the line again, but the long sport with the large and reaching effort had me feeling protective of my body and concerned about my limits.  So, I did what any chicken responsible Adult Amateur would do…
“Can we drop that vertical back to a cross-rail?”
The math nerd inside of me is squealing...
Coach and I both knew it was in my head, so we didn’t need to talk about it.  She just said, “Sure!” and sent me on my way to do it again.  Another few tries and we were finally nailing it!  We changed directions *again* and this time the other end became the vertical (it was a whole couple inches shorter – like that should make any difference, right?).
I gave myself more space to develop the longer stride before coming into the line.  Can I properly explain how difficult I find it to lengthen my canter stride around the short end of an indoor arena on the inner track?  If I did not come into the line with my longer canter, I stood zero change of making the distance comfortably.  In fact, the first time through, she jumped from such a long spot, and needed her neck so much, that I slipped my reins nearly to the buckle!

By the way, I’m getting really good at slipping rubber reins…

Feeling my way through adjustability… on my horse’s weaker side… I finally start feeling good about getting my distance!  So coach drops the barrels in the middle of the line!

I think “Wahoo!  Fun stuff!”
Away we go to try our hand!  I come to in my lovely canter!  But when I put my leg on before the first fence, I can feel Fancy Pony start to suck back…  We landed over the cross-rail, but my additional leg and kissing noises did nothing to keep her going, and she ran out on the barrels.  *GASP*
I know how unbelievable it sounds, but I assure you, it is true.

We came to again, but she still ran out.  I insisted she jump out over the vertical anyway.  Complete the exercise, however poorly executed!

THIS time, I was ready for her and held my left rein.  So, she stopped in front of the barrels.  Point for me!  Straightness has been reestablished!!

One more time, and we make it through the line!  She wanted to suck back, but this time when I put my leg on, she moved right along for me!

My favorite game of the evening came out of Coach standing at the end of the line saying, “How many fingers am I holding up?”
I told her, “I can’t see your fingers until after I have landed after the last jump!  Can we do ‘which arm are you holding up’ instead?”
“Yes!  You can even say ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ to make it a little easier!”
Score!  I loved the way she changed her arms in the middle of the line.  It gave my brain something to do so I didn’t have time to think about my riding.

The size of the jumps were immaterial, really.  The focus was on the ‘how’ and the ‘in between’.  When everything between the jumping comes together, the jumping can’t help but happen correctly!


  1. Replies
    1. LOL - Which part? The making it smaller? The changing of arms? The Fancy Pony actually stopping?? ;)
      It was a really successful ride, regardless. Definitely a step in the right direction to getting comfortable galloping to the jumps!

  2. Pretty sure I've done all those. :-)

    1. Sometimes, I just need a "like" button for all of your encouraging comments! :)



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