|beautiful ladies waiting to get started|
After my enlightening dressage lesson on Sunday, I hurried home to get Penny and the trailer and head over to Katies to pick her and Lilly up. We were scheduled to ride at 12:30 with event rider BM again. I wasn't sure how crazy I was to plan a lesson at 9AM and then trailer to a clinic at 12:30PM but it actually all worked out fine and we had plenty of time to get there and get ready.
This day, the weather was much colder and the ground was frozen so we didn't have to worry about slippery parking or trying to 4 wheel out of the parking lot (kind of disappointed actually lol). The girls stood at the trailer nicely while we tacked up and groomed. It was pretty chilly and windy and despite this they were quiet and relaxed. I got on a bit early to let Penny get a good stretch without too many riders in the ring. She had a few days off prior and can sometimes be a bit wild after a few days off but to my surprise she was very engaged in me.
She broke the converter strap on her pelham a few days earlier so I opted to ride her just on the snaffle portion and she seemed quite a bit happier in the mouth. We did a short warm up and then got right into things. The first exercise we did was just a 9ft rail to a X rail. Trotting in and cantering out each direction. For me I have to remember to sit, relax and push her around my leg through the turn so she doesn't get stiff and short. We quickly added another vertical to the line, so trot in over the 9ft rail and canter three strides over the vertical. I have to thank BM because he designed our course and gymnastic with Penny in mind. I really appreciate the thought and effort he made to help us girls out.
Pennys biggest struggle is maintain the pace in related distances and not getting faster as the second jump approaches. To help this I need to not take away from her pace into the line, sit down on her, but remain relaxed and soft. To keep her attention on me, he had me leg yield away and back from the track on the long and short sides, then as we approach the line, bend her around my inside leg. She was jumping so well, listening and not running away from me.
|ladies ate their entire net and we had to borrow some more hay...silly girls|
As he built the gymnastics, we eventually ended with 3 one strides down the one side, across the diagonal over a stadium built corner, and then down the outside line in 3 strides. Some of the horses struggled to get the 3 on the outside and would get 4 or 5, but Penny struggles to get it 3 and gets 2. She actually only did this once, yay. She took the long one to the corner the first few times but they felt amazing. B had me just sit and wait that second longer to get her to add a stride instead of launching over it. We managed to get that figured out quite nicely.
We finished with the 3 one strides, then around the short end, making a bending line at the end from the oxer to the corner, then outside line of 3 strides vertical to oxer. We jumped through this several times, each time getting progressively quieter and listening better. Penny was jumping out of her skin, I could feel all 4 of her legs tucking up under her as she was pinging off the ground. Our final turn we put it all together. We were soft through the turns, quiet down the lines, and nailed every single distance. She even waited and did the final 3 stride in 3 even quiet strides. Over a big 3'3, 3'6 course, Penny was listening to me, and I felt like I could actually ride her. It was just SUCH a fun and productive lesson.
I won't go over every detail because I honestly can't remember everything, I was really focused on giving Penny a good ride. My takeaways are however;
- Soft hand, low hand, soft arms.
- Sit on her, but not in a tense or hard way. Try to relax and be loose. Keep my shoulders and chin back especially approaching the fences
- Flex her, work her off my leg all directions to keep her attention on me.
- Bend her through my legs through the turns.
- Sit and be patient for the distance.
- Use a slightly open rein to straighten her when needed.
I felt the best I ever have jumping Penny (aside from XC - nothing beats that feeling on her) in this lesson. I really felt like I was riding her, and with her. Not just a rider, sitting on her trying not to mess her up or let her run away with me. It was such a good feeling and makes all the running around I have been doing lately worth it.
BM is heading to Florida soon for the winter, so no more lessons with him until spring if we can get him back. Until then I will be practicing my soft and relaxed jumping position. I'm sure Penny will appreciate it.