Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Friday Fun

So earlier this week I had a student who had a not-so-great ride but a really good lesson. In that her horse was feeling a little bit ignorant and gave her a fair amount of grief, but she stuck it out and dealt with it and in the end was able to jump him around almost properly. And we had a brief conversation about how a bad ride can lead to actual accomplishments -- like the fact that that same ride 6 mths ago would've ended her in the dirt. A few times. But now, not only was it no problem for her, but she was actually able to positively influence her horse. Woohoo.

Fastforward to today... When I definitely had one of those lessons (why is it my life so often mirrors my students'???) Where things were not good and were not pretty but they got significantly better. Flat work was a step down from Tues. Still stiff and huffy but less inclined to work with me on it. *sigh* Get some real basics happening and then plan to jump.

Jump setup has 4 fences forming an X in the middle. Which is, of course, the cloverleaf pattern.

(Think jump one, turn a circle 10-15m circle, jump the next, turn a circle, continue. Pretend my drawing has the lines centered over every fence -- I'm a much better rider than artist!). This has always been one of my favs. It does, of course, include every box I could find. hahaha but it's very low - in the 2'6 range for all of them.

So we jump the first one out of a trot. Land and make a nice civilized, well balanced turn... Oh no wait, that was when I had a sane horse. No no, we landed and bolted. I was 3/4 of the way around the ring before I got her back *sigh* Turn around, jump the same fence the other way. Land and bolt. 1/2 way around the ring this time. Ok, progress. But really, for this exercise to work I need control w/in one stride. hmmmm.

Ok well as much fun as that game was, it wasn't *really* getting us anywhere. Soooo... Try *walking* up to the jumps. Jog 2-3 strides out and hop over it. This still has the land and bolt effect, *but* since w/ no power coming in she has to actually rock back and use her hocks, she was landing in much better form. Making her ridable that much faster. Ok progress. But still landing w/ extreme speed. So pick a line that has a solid tree at the end of it. Use tree to aid in achieving the halt. hahahha very effective. I'll tell ya though, takes some kind of bravery to hold a frantic horse on a line that has a very solid object in its path. But in this case her self preservation kicked in and after a couple tries we had the idea and could practice the same technique sans-tree over the other jumps.

Ok so walk, jump, land, halt, turn. Rinse and repeat. Now we've got something going that vaguely resembles my pretty picture -- and works in both directions. Woohoo. Ideally this exercise is performed at the canter, but you know... Baby steps :) At least it makes the baby-jumps worth jumping when attempting them at a walk *g*

So when she's got the hang of the walk it's time to move into the trot. With the codicil that if the turn is not good, the approach to the next fence gets oh-so-smoothly turned into a circle and we school the flat work instead. Well there were a couple times I had to halt her, and once I had to use the trot circle, but pretty quickly she got the hang of it. N it was nice to see both ways were equally
successful and she'd give me whichever lead I asked for. Finally got two in a row where she jumped super-quiet and super-round out of the trot, landed in a quiet, balanced canter, and navigated the turn. After that, we called it a day. Cause really, it was perfect and I had to get to work *g* No time to start the game all over at the canter.

So while significant portions of this game were not pretty and were not fun, the end result was lovely and she came a very long way in a very short time. So this is progress :) Or so I'm telling myself anyways!

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