This is majorly late but still very important for my lesson journal. This lesson was my first jumping lesson with Archie in almost 2 years. I was taking lessons with Rick a few summers ago and really loved his teaching method. At that time, I just could not afford to keep going with lessons so they went by the way side.
Since getting married and being back at the farm, I've been able to pay off a lot of my debts and also reconnected with my long time friend Dana. Dana and I decided to take lessons together, figuring it would be a bit more fun. Since Archie was havng a little break, I took Ace to my first lesson and she was almost perfect. Archie was ready to start jumping again by the time we set up our second lesson. We have since then had a third but I forgot my camera (d'oh!) plugged in in the tack room.
This is Archies first time back jumping since his last horse trial, and our first jumping lesson together in a very, very long time. We start out with working on our position. Rick is a body killer. As in, after my lessons, I can barely walk for the next few days. He wants us in a position that I never ride in. It is different and very difficult for me to hold this position the first few lessons. Basically, your stirrups are jumping length, you are in almost a half seat, and your inner thigh is pressed into the front of saddle. He explains the horses need to feel you there on their back. We practice a lot of sitting trot in this position, feeling the front of the saddle bouncing into our upper thigh. This is really annoying to Archie who is so super sensitive. With sensitive horses you have to work through it, and desensitize them over time. He needs to accept my leg, my seat, my thigh, in order to be able to be ridden properly over fences.
The first exercise we did was a related line of poles on the ground. For Archie the focus was to travel straight, and at the walk. No rushing, and halting nice and quiet before the second pole. The hardest part of this exercise is to keep Archie relaxed and reaching for the bit (no holding on my part), while in the jumping position. This position takes Archie back to his racing days and he wants to just run run run. After a few times he gets the hang of it and we can trot the exercise. If he attempts to move sideways, I just straighten him out with my leg and come back to a walk if necessary.
We moved onto a bounce, which eventually became a bounce, one stride, to a bounce. Our focus through this exercise was to maintain straightness, and stay "over my stirrup". My job as the rider was to not move - at all through the gymnastic. I was to create what Rick calls the "Funnel". Riding over my stirrup, touching in my right thigh slightly (as we were tracking left), and giving with my hands, but at the same creating a funnel through the front of the horse, allowing him to only go straight and into my hands.
I will tell you this is the hardest thing to master. Doing the Funnel and not moving an inch through the whole gymnastic, while trusting your notoriously exuberant jumper that he won't run through the whole exercise. We did manage to jump the ENTIRE final bounce in once jump, but were able to correct it the next time through.
We finished with some small courses, focusing on straightness and me riding over my stirrup and holding the Funnel. If we lose straightness, we go back to trot or even halt. Archie had some good rubs but he just needs to learn how to jump straight, at this point he only knows how to jump sideways (in his mind anyways). I have some video, filmed via le tripod;