November is shaping up to be the month of lessons! I am loving this, not only to keep me fresh before the winter lull comes but also because it helping me keep my mind off of the loss of Indy. I have crazy motivation to ride so I am thankful for the outlet in the form of clinics.
Saturday I had a jumper clinic with a semi local young woman showjumper at the barn I am renting arena time from. I actually know the clinician as I taught riding camp at her parents farm when I was 16 and she was only 6 or 7. Oh how I am getting old! She has had a lot of success in the upper levels of the jumper world and I have been wanting to try a lesson with her. This was the perfect opportunity.
My day started a bit a mess as I went to catch Penny to bring her in and I couldn't catch her. This was on top of losing my phone the night before so I was already feeling lost and stressed. Penny was basically mad at me for riding her all week and was just not into it that morning. I had to bring Valley and Emmy in first to get her in. Once I had her caught, I put her boots on, switched her blanket and loaded her onto the trailer. Being a bit stressed, worried I would be late I forgot her back boots and bell boots! Ugh!
I sent my boyfriend to my parents to get my riding boots as I left them there and have been riding in old ripped ones. I swear I am losing things everywhere every day these days. When I arrived at the barn I found out they had found my phone in the driveway the night before, hooray! It was frozen but no damage. One problem solved. Onto problem #2, the red head waiting patiently on the trailer. We unloaded and in typical fashion Penny barged into the barn and strutted past all the people as if to announce "I have arrived".
Thinking I was late, but really I was early, so that was good. I had time to tack up, and give her a really good warm up. She was quite up, but well behaved in the warm up. As other horses and people starting entering the arena, she was getting a bit more excited. The jumps moving around, proved to be VERY exciting for her. She knew what was coming, and was ready.
We started the lesson doing some trot work. V had me shorten reins right up, like my old coach Rick used to have me do. Then have a softer elbow and hand and just follow her head. Of course, everything is about my hands and how they try and control everything. I can't believe after over a year of working on them, they still suck. I am getting better but wow, what a horrible ingrained habit I can not get rid of. Penny was pretty tense although she was behaving. Softening my elbows and arms and contact, while still having a feel let Penny relax into a consistent hand and she did in fact relax immediately from the change.
|blurry trot pic, reins still long, inside hind engaged tho!|
Once warmed up we started an exercise of 10m circle at each end. We start the circle, sit trot, drop the stirrups and ride the circle in sitting trot until V was satisfied then take the stirrups back down the long wall, allowing Penny to stretch her neck even more, then return and do the same thing at the other end of the long wall. No stirrup work and sitting trot on Penny, for a second there I was thinking about how legs were going to fall off since I haven't done no stirrup work in foreverrrrr. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I sunk into and around Pennys barrel and it was quite easy.
Instead of again using my hands too much, V had me use the exercise to get the results I wanted. IE, use the circle to slow her down and get the bend. I kept my hands together and soft (or I tried to) and looked around the circle, using inside leg into outside rein and the rhythm, shape, and engagement all improved drastically. We did this exercise several times until it was consistent. We then added canter. Penny started to get a bit strong in the canter, so I didn't do the circles without stirrups although I'm sure we could have, it just would not have improved anything. We did the canter 10m circles twice, then long side, then back into the circles. Eventually the circles helped get Penny into a nice rhythm, and me out of her way. I really liked this exercise, it is definitely one I will be using in the future.
Onto the jumping, and things got really exciting. For Penny anyway. We started on a waiting line, and well we stayed on that for our entire lesson, which was fine by me. We need the work. Penny was jumping into the 9 ft pole and X rail fine, cantering 2 strides fine, then rushing the last two. I was trying to stay out of her face, but then she just started to run off. I had changed her bit into a mullen mouth full cheek, but it was just not enough. Normally we have been jumping in a French Link 3 ring elevator, but she has been been flipping her head around and I know its because she hates a metal bit, and hates the link. I have been flatting her in the mullen mouth with great success, but silly me to think that would be enough to jump. HA.
We went down the exercise several times, halting at the end. Or in the middle, or not at all and trying not to run V or the participants over. Trying for those 4 even strides. Eventually with Vs help we did get it. It wasn't perfect, but it was a huge improvement which is all you can ask for when your horse is just flying on the edge like she was that day. V and I discussed some things to work on, mostly just loads and loads of these waiting lines and related poles, changing the distances, solidifying the consistency in the canter. That was great, because that was pretty much my plan for the winter already. It's good to know when you are on the right track for your training plans and goals.
|tired Lady...well maybe not tired lol|
I really enjoyed the lesson. I learned some new things, got some homework, and enjoyed watching her teach the other rider in my group over more advanced courses than we got to do. The barn manager is hoping to have her down for regular lessons, and I am hoping to join in on those in the future. Especially good timing with my jump coach moving away last year. It was a really great day, the barn atmosphere is very laid back, light and fun there. It was also nice to get home and have Penny unloaded in under 15 minutes after leaving the barn. I could get used to this!