Lessons in Winter – Part 856,001+

My cohorts bailed AGAIN!

Lessons in Winter

I get a private lesson tonight. This should be fun. I barely make it through a group lesson, and I can cheat during those.

“You asked if I did two point the whole lap of the arena?… Uhm, yeeaaah, I did”
**shifty look**

God, I hope the instructor doesn’t read this blog…¬†

It’s a balmy 25 degrees with a “Feels Like” of 12. We’re positively tropical here compared to the last two days.

What are my cohorts waiting for? Above freezing?!
As if that’ll happen before April. HA!

Your winter wonderland horse pictures:

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Lessons in Winter

I was supposed to have a group jumping lesson Wednesday night, but my cohorts bailed. Something about it being in the teens caused them to re-think their life goals, I guess.

I haven’t been riding the past two weeks anyway. I sat on Ava once for a short bit. That’s all. The rest of the time has been spent fighting with broken equipment, shoveling snow, and trying to keep my fingers from falling off while cleaning stalls.

Luckily, the lesson barn let me ride with the Thursday group lesson.  

And of course, Thursday was single digit temps…   I should’ve asked for a private lesson Wednesday.  ūüėā 

Thursday’s group consists of three kids. All of whom were mute. I tried talking to one before the lesson,  but from her expression I am either an ax murderer,  or I have some seriously hideous visage which upset her.  

I’m using the term “kid”  loosely.  They appear to be allowed to drive,  so I assume they’re over 16. 

The instructor had mentioned a while ago that the Thursday class was a bit more advanced then the Wednesday class.  So I was really looking forward to testing my skills against better riders.  I guess I had assumed they’d all been jumping for years,  were knocking out 3 foot jumps,  and had mastered the basics of jumping by this point. 

Reality: they were a very,  very small step,  incrementally,  better then the group I ride with on Wednesdays.  But apparently just as unwilling to be the first one up,  the first one over, etc.  Bah. 

At one point the instructor gave us directions on the next exercise she wanted us to do,  and absolutely NO ONE MOVED.  She explains it again, expecting the kid at the front of the line to go when she undertsands what to do.  No one moves. 

I was at the end of the pack,  so I yelled out,  “Do you mean now?”  

“Yes,  now!”

No one moves… 

So, i pick up a trot and head to the front to start the exercise.  

Why does a middle aged,  fat,  out of shape lady gotta show the athletic,  young whipper snappers how it’s done?! 

That’s just sad…

Kids, don’t be the sad sack that lets old ladies show you up. ūüėĀ

One of the exercises had us jump a diagonal line,  but first and third jump were offset. So,  normally you’d do the straight line on the sides,  and the one on the diagonal.  This exercise we did the first jump off the straight line at a bit of an angle,  then the jump on the diagonal,  and third jump on the far straightline at a bit of an angle.  

Primitive cave man drawing of jump setup

I had to try that three times.  I’d get the pony set up on a bit of a diagonal line over the first jump, then try to bend her a bit more for the second jump,  but by that time the pony was like “NOPE!  We’re going around!”  We only had about a stride or two between the jumps.  Things happened QUICK! 

Third time,  I had a bit steeper angle over the first jump and began the approach to the second before we left the ground for the first,  and then I could angle her toward the middle of the second jump.  It all flowed smoothly after that.  Well,  sort of..  Pony did great.  I kind of just tried to stay out of the way, and I dropped the reins on the second jump.  Bad habit of mine.  Second the horse pulls I let the reins slide.  

Pony: “I’m going BIG!” 

Me: [Throws reins at horse] “Whatever you gotta do,  Pony.  Just don’t crash!” 

It was SO MUCH FUN!! 

I can’t wait to do it again! 

2017 Down the Drain

Is it just me, or does it seem like the beginning of this year was eons ago…

Let’s see.. what happened this year? Some of this stuff seems like it happened so long ago…¬†Then again, I have the memory of a gold fish… so yesterday was sooooo long ago! HA!

The big events for Joy:

  • Went on her very first trailer ride.
  • Went to her very first show!
  • Went to her very first lesson in an indoor arena.

 

First show!

The big events for me:

  • Went to my very first jumping lesson!
  • Jumped my very first line of jumps!
  • Cantered over a jump for the first time!
  • Have (almost) overcome (mostly) my fear of cross rails.
  • Audited the Charlotte Dujardin clinic.
  • Catch rode some really fun horses.

Jumping!

On top of that, Hubby and I put in some long, hard hours extending the arena. It feels so huge now. I’m loving it!

New arena

Some where in that mix, Hubby changed the paddock arrangement around so Joy would stop kicking Jessie off her food.

Oh, and I had some really fun times hanging out with other horse people this year. I’m hoping there’ll be more of that in the coming year!

On the sad side,  my super awesome dog,  Dax,  died this year.

I miss this big lug.

We had some rough times keeping weight on Jessie coming out of winter,  but sorted her out with a new feed program.

And then more issues with Jessie that lead to more changes in feed,  but I think we may have it sorted out again (I hope!).

I forced hubby to clean the barn gutters and roof,  so people would stop laughing at our gutter garden.

Great job Hubby!

I had some fun trail rides on Ava, and some rather exciting trail rides with Joy.

Ava!

But now it’s cold,¬† and there’s too much snow,¬† and all our equipment is breaking..



My back hurts, I can’t ever seem to get warm, my body aches, and there’s always fresh snow to shovel the next day.

I had to shovel snow just to open/close and close the gates!

I’m seriously over this year!

But… the optimist in me is looking forward to a fun filled 2018!

I’m hoping to get Joy to a dressage schooling show this spring (at least one), and I’m looking forward to riding with friend’s more this year. I’m also secretly hoping I can get Joy going over some low level jumps, and I’d like to get Ava out and about to go trail riding with friends or maybe even to a lesson or a show with her.

Which ever path you take, embrace the adventure.¬† Unless it’s snowing, then STAY INSIDE!

Stay safe everyone, and Happy New Year!

 

Need More Beer

It is bitterly cold. The kind of cold that makes your fingers numb within seconds, the snot freezes instantly in your nose, and the air hurts your lungs to breathe. Touching anything metal without gloves on is a sure fire way to lose some skin.

Everything is a massive undertaking to accomplish. Even just letting the horses out into the main pasture has become a slog.

 

I’m becoming convinced that the only way to handle winter is through inebriation.


 

I’m seeing people post pictures of themselves riding in indoor arenas, wearing their posh riding attire, while riding their perfectly clipped horses…

And then there’s me….

If I go much more redneck with this, I’ll be disbarred from the dressage community entirely.


There’s a facebook group I belong to where real life vet’s answer common people questions about horses. One of the questions was when is it too cold to ride. Vet made it seem like anything above 5 degrees was fine to ride in.

If this is true, this removes my most common excuse not to ride in the winter. Which is good, right? Except, Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I keep trying to convince myself I’m more of a badass because I ride outside all year long, but secretly I really just want to tuck myself into an indoor for the rest of the winter.

frozen

 

 

36 Bottles of Beer on the wall

Jessie, the 32 year old mare, suddenly stopped eating Friday. Completely unlike her. I was a bit perplexed by the behavior,  because otherwise she seemed completely fine.  I monitored her Friday for any signs of distress,  but other than not eating her hay pellets and grain,  she seemed absolutely normal.

Saturday,  still not eating.

Sunday, stttiiiiillll¬†not eating…

Monday, I had the vet-dentist out.  One of her teeth had broken,  half was flopping around,  and the other half well embedded.  Vet pulled it. I nearly barfed.

I’m such a pansy.

Vet had Jessie all doped up.  Nicely sedated,  lidocaine to numb the area,  a shot of banimine when she was done.

I could’ve used some sedation when I got the bill! Ack!!

It’s now Wednesday, ¬†and Jessie still won’t touch her regular grain. ¬†I had to switch it out with the grain I feed my two. ¬†She devoured that. ¬†No idea why her grain, ¬†that she used to love, ¬†is no longer an option.

I’m also forced to shove antibiotics down her gullet twice a day like dewormer since she is being so picky about her food. ¬†The paste is now coating the barn floor, ¬†my saddles, ¬†in my hair, ¬†all over my coat, ¬†and even on my glasses. ¬†I am not doing so well getting it to stay in her mouth.

Any wisdom on food stuffs the old gal might eat? ¬†It seems like the mushier it is, ¬†the less she likes it. ¬†So far she’s only interested in the hard stuff. ¬†Add water and she immediately turns her nose up at it. ¬†Which perplexes me. ¬†I would’ve thought mushier would be better.¬† She hates any type of syrups. She’s not all that fond of applesauce or apples.

At least she’s eating the other horses grain and trying to eat hay…

I keep putting out different food options for her to try.

She can’t really eat hay, she just cuds most of it up and spits it out, but she gave it a go anyway.

Yeah, ok, sometimes I let her wander the barn… Not the safest thing to do, but she’s so level headed… and sllooooowwww….

She wanted in the feed room. Wasn’t gonna happen. ūüėā

I hope she gets back to her old, ¬†with gusto, ¬†eating habits soon. ¬†I hope it was just that tooth, ¬†and no other issues crop up. ¬†She’s such a sweet mare.

Other than the tooth issue,  the vet gave Jessie a glowing report on her health.  Great lungs,  great heart, remaining teeth look great.

Google says that the average mare has 36 teeth. We’re down to 33 now.

She’s lost 3 in one year! Ouch!

 

Fourth Lesson – Or, that time I almost quit

I walked in to the barn for my fourth lesson absolutely PUMPED! Ready to rock and roll.

Instructor asked me if I wanted to ride “The Hot Horse” this lesson.¬†I enthusiastically said yes. I love a hot horse!¬† So she¬†brings in this 16-ish hand, mud-brown, TB gelding with a bit of a goofball personality (my fav kind of horse).

I brushed him down, tacked him up, and we wandered off into the arena to hop on. Instructor tells me this was her personal eventing horse, and that she rarely has others ride him, so she’s curious to see how he’ll go/look with me. Eek! No pressure.

Everything’s going great at the walk. Nice horse, well trained, super sensitive (love it), and I feel pretty darn secure up there even though the saddle feels too big for me.

Then the instructor has us trot. As soon as I ask for the trot, the horse flings his head up and around, pulls the reins out of my way too lose fingers, and launches into an big trot (my reins flapping in the wind around his neck).

Instructor calls out “You might need those!”

Me: (** totally embarrassed **)”You said he was a seat ride” haha

I finally got myself back in order, horse back under me, and we did some trot warm up for a few minutes.  Everything was going well. I was a touch nervous because I could tell that this horse was much hotter than either of mine, and I was worried that my fear of jumping was going to create a bomb under me.

Instructor set up a small “course” of ground poles to ride. This horse was awesome. Actually leg yields, you can steer his shoulders, very¬† easy to ride. I was having a blast trotting over the ground rail “course”.¬† I was feeling a million feet tall, and tougher than nails!

Instructor raised the poles into small cross rails. We’re supposed to go through this course one at a time. Meaning one of us will stand in the middle while the other rides the ‘course’. The other lady in the class ducked into the middle the second the rails went up. HA!

Probably a good thing though. If I have to go first then I don’t have time to work myself up into a panic.

I struck up a trot and headed toward the first jump. My gelding does a very nice, smooth jump over the first cross rail. I’m feeling solid, secure, like a million bucks and on top of the world.

The second jump, we LAUNCHED over it. Totally caught me off guard. Tossed me around a bit. The gelding lands, and we’re cantering across the arena with me curled up in a fetal position on top. Instructor yelling “Sit up, Sit up”, “Breathe”.

Confidence a bit shaken, but I stayed on so no big deal, right?

I steer the moose around and approach the second jump again. We go over it smoothly, no issues. Everything is wonderful. I’m on top of the world again.

Approach third cross rail, and again, horse launches himself over it. I’m literally grabbing anything in front of me to stay on.

I’m scared now.¬† Like, really scared…

I circle the horse so we can do the third jump again because I’m completely off course. Get to the third jump again, and LAUNCH! It’s so powerful it’s popping me out of the tack, I feel like I’m a split second from falling off. I have zero control. I feel like I’m 8 feet in the air with only hard ground beneath me.

We make it over, and I stop the horse.

At this point, part of me is screaming at the top of it’s lungs “I’M DONE!!! I want off! No more! I’m OUT!”

It was such a strong, visceral reaction that it shocked me!

I had very heated argument with myself about whether I was quitting jumping for good at that point or not.

I almost quit… it was close.

But, i really want to do this. Really badly. And I’d regret quitting.

I re-gathered my whits, focused my breathing, listened to instructors advice about position changes and rhythm, and trotted the moose back to the third jump again. He calmly hopped over it and we finished the last two jumps with no issues.

We did the course twice more. We had a couple of additional launching jumps, but this time I was ready mentally and actually rode the horse instead of being an out of balance passenger.

The better I rode, the smoother the jumps got, the calmer the horse got.
Imagine that…. haha

So, all in all, an eye-opener on how hard this is going to be, and how far I still have to go before I’m ready for an actual “event”. But… I was really freaking proud of myself for working through my fear, and it helped me see how much my body really influences the quality and type of jump the horse can give.

Also, that horse was amazing. I was really touched the instructor let me ride him.

I think I shat myself a little

My second jumping lesson… read first lessons post here

I’ve got this ground pole business down now. I feel like a Queen surveying her realm when I look at a line of ground poles. Used to scare me to death to see two ground poles in a row.. but now? “What is this pathetic excuse of an exercise with just two measly ground poles? pfftt.”

So when the instructor set up a “Box” with ground poles… Ppffftt. No biggie.

She explains the exercise below. Trot in, keep turning right.

BoxPattern

I’ve got this.

I’m cocky.

I am Phillip Dutton riding a Beginner Novice event with ease!!

.

.

.

Then the instructor raised the poles.

I trotted toward the box, eyes up, position a bit shaky, but holding up okay.  As soon as the pony hopped over the first cross pole, I immediately looked down. One trot step in the middle, and Pony put the breaks on for the next cross rail.

I had a momentary “Oh Shit” type feeling, but since we really didn’t have any speed it didn’t unseat me much. Pony kindly did a slow, calm hop over the second cross rail (saving my butt).

Whew! Made it through!

At this point I have to make an immediate right turn and line back up with the box for the second line.

I was a few strides out, staring down the quickly approaching cross rail…

Utterly freaked out.

Pulled the pony off the line and circled.

I didn’t even think. I just saw the first cross rail, panicked, and immediately turned the pony.

As soon as I realized what I’d done, I realigned the pony, and we popped through the box again. Immediate right turn, and hopped the next line.

After third line, I was so giddy that I thought I was done and went back to the rail, completely forgetting I was supposed to do one more line of jumps. Ha!

I swear though, that second line, I could actually hear my anus clamp shut in fear.

……….

As a side note: This is the very first lesson I’ve ever taken where the word “twerking” was used to describe my riding position. HAHAHA!

half-ass

Yes, I am so dang good, I can twerk while¬†jumping. jk. I don’t even know if twerk’s a word.

I’m starting to question my goal of participating in a beginner level eventing competition next fall.¬† Or maybe I just need to invest in some dark brown riding breaches. ūüėČūüėā

The Road Trip (of a life time)

To read the notes I took during the clinic, go to “Notes from the Charlotte Dujardin clinic“.

Post about how I got the tickets for the clinic: Once in a Lifetime

Although I only had one ticket for the clinic, my wonderful husband ended up going with me. Lucky for me he did!

Hubby was driving, and we had just pulled onto the off ramp when he casually says “We have no brakes”. Totally calm about it. I, of course, have 20 seconds of “What’d he just say?” followed immediately by extreme panic!

Hubby got us safely off the highway and coasted into a gas station. That man can seriously drive!  And then he was able to patch the brakes up enough to allow us to carry on with the road trip.

Yay!

The awesome handy man!

Brake fluid trail

Plugging the leak

He was coated in brake fluid afterward. Poor guy. Head to toe covered. And he broke his favorite tool. Not a good trip for the poor hubby, but boy was I glad he came!

The entire drive there and back took much longer than we anticipated. We left the house before 10am Friday. Google maps said it was less than a five hour drive to the clinic. That should’ve put us there about 3pm. Clinic rides started at 4:00.

Plenty of time…

Well, even though the brake issue took up an unexpected 30 minutes of our time, it still took us 6 hours and 42 minutes to get there. That included one short bathroom break and the brake line fix.

It was such a loooonnnnggg drive!

Since my hubby is a night owl,¬† we headed home right after the clinic. ¬†He can’t sleep at night anyway.¬† Plus, ¬†I was antsy to get home.

The ride home wasn’t much shorter. We ended up getting home about 4am. Left the clinic around 9:30pm.

The other funny thing that came out of that trip… I had asked the next door neighbor (who also owns horses) ¬†if she could feed mine Friday evening while I was gone. ¬†I set all the food next to their doors so that all she had to do was dump each bucket in to the feeders (access from outside of the stall) and kick the hay in. ¬†Quick and easy.

However, ¬†I knew my neighbor’s boarder was also coming. Nice guy, but he loves to get in Ava’s stall and pet her.

If I’m there, ¬†I can usually nip Ava’s evil side in the bud before she escalates. When I’m not there, Ava can be downright evil.¬† I didn’t want to come home and hear about how Ava kicked him, ¬†or bit him, ¬†or trampled him… ¬†(all things she’s done with other people before). So I left instructions for the neighbors not to go in Ava’s stall, at all.

The other two horses? Knock yourself out. Hang on them, lay under them… do what ever you want. Those two are saints.

Ava? Nope. Kick the hay in, slam the door. Do not go in.

So… Of course they went in anyway.

I didn’t find any dead bodies when I got home¬† — as if i wouldn’t have immediately implemented the “Shovel and Shut Up” ¬†protocol if I had!

Ironically, I only knew that they’d gone in to Ava’s stall because they made sure to specifically let me know they’d gone in Ava’s stall.

Oh, and they were offended that I’d asked them not to.

tenor

 

 

Horse people are freaking NUTS! 

 

 

 

Notes from the Charlotte Dujardin Clinic

Part one: Once in a Lifetime

“If you fall, it’s sand, you’ll bounce” – galloping a horse to create forward desire.

“Slap the rider, pat the horse”

Stages of training:

  • First – Leg Yield
  • Second – Shoulder-In
  • Third – Travers

Straightness:

  • Keep VERY straight.
  • When too bendy on one side – straighten. On side that is less bendy – bend more.
  • “He gets stuck because he’s not straight. The inside hind comes inside” (fix with shoulder-fore).

Forward:

  • Forward/back in canter – allow the forward in the hand. Bring back enough to where the leg is on loose, the hand is on loose, and the rider just sits there without holding. SOFT.
  • When you get the forward, have a loose leg. No clamping. Take leg off.
  • Quality of canter improves just from forward. Create forward and use half-halts to re-balance.¬† Use forward/back transitions in gait.
  • You want the horse thinking forward.
  • If you have a lazy horse, legs off. A hot horse, legs on.
  • To start work, Charlotte said she starts in canter instead of trot. Then works in trot after that. She said it makes the trot work looser and more supple, and it’s easier to get the engagement.

Stretchy Trot:

  • Aid for stretching is low, wide rein. To pick the horse, hold hands higher and closer together.

Transitions:

  • When too much hand, horse will be abrupt in transitions and fall on forehand.
  • Transitions should look super smooth from canter forward to walk.
  • Hind leg forward!
  • No hands. Hands make horse shut down in transitions. It’s the last step of the transition where the horse was always shutting down (stutter step, or stopped completely).
  • Transitions are so important. Need to be done right.
  • Do LOADS of transitions (correctly).
  • 1,000’s of transitions a ride. Not just a few, not a dozen, thousands a ride.

Leg Yield:

  • Push the rib cage into the other rein.
  • Can also do Leg Yield with counter flexion.
  • When the horse is straight in the leg yield then the horse has to “Push” using his hind to move over. If too bent, the horse falls over and doesn’t get the strength benefit from the exercise.

Leg Yield in Canter:

  • Good to teach horse to move away from leg sideways.
  • The zig zag starter – 6 strides leg yield and 6 strides leg yield back. (broken down its 4 strides over, 1 straight, one change)
    • Easier to do this in leg yield to work out ‘how’ to do it. I believe she meant so rider can learn how to ride the zig zag without complicating it with half-pass.

 

At 7 years old, the horse should be able to do canter/walk/canter transitions in order to develop the muscles that will help with the sitting work. Transitions will help develop him.

Canter/walk/canter on a circle:

  • Bad transitions: Gait too big for downward trans. Have to set the horse up. Canter has to be small and has to be on the hind leg and balanced.
  • Round with soft hands.
  • Keep energy
  • Allow him to step forward into the walk when transitioning from canter to walk (too much hand causes horse to jerk or not step forward into the walk).
  • Circle 10m helps collect the canter.
  • Exercise: For the canter/walk transition, do a 10m circle along the wall, when coming back toward the wall again, ask for the downward transition. The wall acts like a half-halt, makes the horse back off or shift back. Makes it easier to get correct transition to walk without pulling.
  • You need to have a really good canter/walk/canter transition, where horse is stepping forward into a walk, prior to teaching flying changes.

 

Shoulder-In:

  • Active! Round and loose in hand. Want to see shoulders turn off the track.
  • Not bent in neck, but flexion in the poll. Move the shoulders not the head and neck.
  • When going to the right “Right Leg, Left Rein” mantra.
  • Should stay in the angle you put him in.
  • Do a test by counter flexing in Shoulder-in (should have a renvers feeling).
  • Mantra for shoulder-In: Inside Leg to Outside Rein. Repeat.
  • Shoulder-In is from the shoulders, not the rein.

Travers in Canter:

  • A test to determine if your horse is supple. If he really bends. Do this before teaching, trying Half-Pass.
  • Weight on inside
  • Inside leg by girth, outside leg pushes hindquarters in.
  • Do forward and back while IN travers (3 times down long side forward/back in HI).
    • Push hip in, then forward/back.
  • If you can collect in canter Travers then it’s getting ready for canter pirouette.
  • Do on 20 meter circle – round on outside. This is thinking pirouette without the massive strain. Way to build up to it.
  • Then move between travers and Shoulder-Fore on 20m circle. Push quarters in and out to teach how to ride between both legs.

 

Collected Canter:

  • Test it by pushing hands forward. Horse needs to stay in collected canter without rein. Push the hands straight forward, if horse speeds up or quits, then not right.
  • Ask for collection and expect the horse to hold it.
  • Don’t keep nagging/asking with each step.¬† Ask and expect the horse to hold it until asked for something else.
  • Need to get collection in a soft way.

 

Flying Changes:

  • Need to have a good quality canter/walk/canter BEFORE flying changes.
  • If you don’t have a good canter/walk transitions then you’ll never have a good canter/halt transition.
  • How to teach Flying Change:
    • Doesn’t teach in a wide open area (like diagonal)
    • Uses a figure 8 type exercise at one end.
    • Example of Figure 8
    • This exercise uses the turn off in the corners to keep the horse engaged.
    • Most issues are a straightness issue.

Half-Pass:

  • Keep the rhythm
  • Shoulders move.
  • Round and loose in the hand
  • Rider has to position the horses body from the body and 2 reins, NOT the inside rein.

 

Pirouette:

  • If pirouette whips around then it’s because horse is not off the riders inside leg..
  • Exercise for pirouette:
    • Half-pass from the corner to X, X down center line in shoulder-fore¬† (to almost C) , then do 1/2 of a 10 m circle and half-pass back to X.
    • piroutte exercise
    • Make the half of a circle at the end smaller to increase difficulty (mimicking pirouette). Can get it to shoulder-fore down center, with large pirouette to end up at quarter line.
    • Always do different sizes so the horse can’t anticipate and rush.
    • Need to be able to come down the center line and not have the horse take over control in anticipation of pirouette.

Tips:

  • The short side and the corner set up the next movement. A bad short side and corner leads to a bad movement.
  • Short side is used to collect, activate, re-balance the horse.
  • A horse at PSG should be able to collect on the spot. Shouldn’t need several strides to achieve it.
  • Working Pirouette:
    • Hip in and do smaller and larger circles in traverse
  • Rider hips to rider hands
  • Keep the energy. Keep the work easy in order to keep the horse keen.
  • ALWAYS outside straighter.
  • Always do hard side first. Otherwise, have to do hard side after horse is already a bit more tired if doing it second.
  • The leg is NOT there to keep him going. That’s the horse’s job.
  • Activate the canter. Have to go forward in order to be able to collect.
  • When the horse is strong, make that correction and then SOFTEN.
  • Charlotte does stretch work and transitions dedicated¬†days.



Other:

  • Charlotte said she thinks all lazy horses should be police horses.
  • Short¬† reins.
  • Bum down – horse has to be in front of leg.
  • Keep the rider’s upper body soft. The movement flows through the upper body.
  • Let the horse make mistakes and then correct. Pat the horse for effort.
  • Difference in what it takes for a horse to “sit” or to “push” i.e. passage is push. Horse is usually better in one than the other.
  • The horse was jumping into a canter when asked for a more forward trot. Charlotte said “she canters because she’s on the forehand”. The horse couldn’t go forward, so broke into canter which is easier than actually pushing from behind to go forward.

First Jumping Lesson

I went to my first jumping lesson last Wednesday night. No pics,  sorry.  I went by myself. 

I was so nervous before it started! Really nervous! Sweaty palms,  heat racing, type nervous. 

They brought up 2 horses, and a pony. Guess who got the pony? ūüėā 

Actually,  it was a super cute pony who was about the size of Joy. 

There were three other ladies close to my age in the class.  All at about my level of riding (bit more experienced in jumping).  I was worried about riding in front of them at first,  and making a fool out of myself,  but they were so incredibly nice.   

I haven’t 2 pointed in 30 odd years. I couldn’t seem to get the mechanics of it down.  It seems so simple,  and yet I was either tipping forward or falling back.  I couldn’t stop posting in 2 point.  What’s up with that?!? 

Instructor had us go over a line of poles on the ground first.  The lesson pony,  Willow, handled them with ease. I just clung on and focused on my body position while Willow did all the work.  

When the instructor was satisfied with our pole work she let us jump a single cross rail.  

I had mixed emotions about going over the first jump.  Excited, with an undercurrent of feeling nauseous.  Part of me wanted to quit,  but the other ladies there weren’t scared.  They weren’t even phased.  It made me feel like I could do it too.  

The first lady rode over the cross rail easily and then it was my turn.  Those jumps seem so big when I’m on the back of a horse.  They also seem to get massively larger the closer I get to it.  What was a 6 inch jump, started looking like a 4 foot oxer in my mind by the time we got to it.  

I closed my eyes. 

Willow jumped over it easily and with a nice fluid effort.  Easy to ride it.  I got scolded for ducking my upper body down (oops),  and i made a mental note to fix it next jump. 

Second jump was easier.  Jump seemed a lot smaller this time.  I kept my upper body as still as possible.  I had issues holding 2 point though and wobbled backward a bit. I wasn’t quite in balance. 

Then the instructor changed things up and had us jump the first cross rail the opposite way, and continue down the line to the 2nd cross rail.    
I tried to watch the other ladies as they did their jumps.  They made it seem easy. 

Then my turn…  The first cross rail went well,  but as soon as the pony landed she started cantering.  I’ve never cantered over a jump before and the second jump was coming up very fast!  I was freaking out.  I was mid-debate with myself about pulling the pony back to a trot or not when suddenly we were at the next cross rail.  It seemed so massive.  At least a 6 foot wall.  I grabbed mane.  Pony soared over it and landed gracefully on the other side.  My heart was thudding in my chest.  I almost wanted to quit at that point.  And yet..  OMG it was fun.  Scary,  but fun! 

Instructor had us come around and try it again.  This time it didn’t seem quite as big of a jump,  nor as terrifying when the pony cantered up to it.  Not quite the smoothest approach to the fence,  but I felt like we stayed in sync a bit better the second time. 

We did that line a couple more times and by the end I felt a lot braver about jumping.  

I’m still not really confident in my 2 point position.  And I had issues with keeping my upper body up when I closed the angle of my hips.  I think it’s lack of strong back muscles.  I was really feeling every back muscle after I got off the pony.  Those were the only muscles that felt sore afterward.

I go back for my second lesson on the 11th. I’m really excited about it.  Really fun group of ladies and I get to challenge my fears and learn new things.  I can’t wait! 

Oh,  I was really pleased that the instructor praised me for staying balanced when the pony jumped the second line of cross rails. She said the strides were off,  or something,  and so pony had to jump from a bad spot.  Instructor said I did a good job of staying out of the way and not messing up the pony’s balance.  I was thinking..   “My motto in life: stay out of the way and keep the peace” ūüėā 

All in all,  a fantastic group of ladies to ride with,  a safe and well trained pony to learn on, and a knowledgeable instructor who pushed me just outside my comfort zone but not beyond. It waa an exhilarating experience.  Scary, but exhilarating.