Friday, September 4, 2015
Late-night jump school
I longed Kat before riding her tonight not because she was squirrelly but because I wanted to watch her move. When she came to my farm we spent a lot of time oohing and ahhing over how pretty she was and then wincing when I nearly got my nose broken, repeatedly. It's funny how we habituate to things and I wanted to recapture some of that eagerness to reward her for improvements.
I warmed her up on the flat with a lot of leg-yielding at the walk (we're trying to master a 20-meter circle where we leg yield along a portion of the circle and then walk straight for a portion), some loopy bending lines at the trot for a long time while she settled, then we practiced cantering squares. Not necessarily good squares, but I really wanted to focus on bringing the shoulders in front of the hind legs using my outside aids. We did some simple lead changes through the trot (still insanely hollow, horse can drop her back in a trot-canter like you wouldn't believe) and I spent some time checking out my position.
Overall a productive warm-up - she's getting really fit. And this is great, because she's an event horse, and fitness is key. And this it terrible, because our warm-up lasted 35 minutes and at one point would have been a hearty schooling session for her and she hadn't broken a sweat.
So I set up a single jump in the middle of the arena at about 2'6" and we figure-eighted over it for a good bit while I counted, "three, two, one" and argued with my wandering lower leg and practiced sitting up for god's sake before the fence and all those things I'm always after my kids about. Every time Kat felt like she was charging the fence and blasting off afterwards, I'd steeply leg yield her off until the canter got normal then pet and praised and loved on her while we finished our circle to come around again. And when she floated off behind the leg, I did nothing proactive. So there! I just sat and thought, "crap this distance sucks." and I took it! Mwahahahaha....
Wait no actually angry Kat-ears are correct and I was not doing the right thing by sitting up there and staring at the damn fence while it came up on a bad distance. So then I made the wise choice to put the fence up six inches so I had to ride or die, and everything came together really nicely. She stuttered behind me, I put leg on, and voila! The whole experience was nice after that.
As I cooled her out I got to thinking about how hard this whole thing is. I've jumped dozens of horses over a cumulative thousands of jumps and I'm STILL not 'good' enough to get the right distance every time. It gets better, I have more tools, a more refined eye, etc... but still I sometimes forget to plug my brain in and my riding hat on. Alas, thankfully my horse can take a joke now instead of being so offended over every little thing.