Giant Oxers As Teaching Tools
After our hillwork session last week, Dino was a little tired and sore the next day, so I decided to do some more low-key flatwork and really work on carrying over the relaxation he has in his back in a stretchy frame into a working frame.
It was still really hard work.
I'm trying to figure out what the heck I do differently in my body when I pick him up from a stretch into a working frame, but I haven't quite got it yet. I try to keep my legs swinging against his sides, my seat loose, and my arms elastic, but he still gets tight in his back going from a stretch to a working frame. We did end with some phenomenal walk and trot work by the end, though, so we'll get there! Gotta keep that schwung...
D-Money had Saturday off while I chilled with my family at the beach, and then was back to work on Sunday evening. Michael actually rode for a bit, and did great! Considering he hasn't been riding consistently at all this year, I'm always super impressed that he can just hop right back on and w/t/c and jump little things like he's been riding regularly.
Don't you kind of want to hate him?
I hopped on after Michael declared his legs and groin were too sore to go on. Dino felt really nice, very relaxed, round, happy to go forward. We cruised around on the flat for a little bit and then I started popping him over some little fences, just the tiny 18" coop and the 2'3" brick wall to start. I was asking for a close distance at the brick wall every time, and while it wasn't terrible, it wasn't ideal. So after a couple tries, I really committed to a more forward, flowing pace on the way to the fence, and the perfect distance was right there. So much better! After that I jumped the 2-stride, which was set at 2'6" in and 2'9" out. We jumped in a little long and had to stretch to make the out, and Dino just opened up and nailed it. He's so great.
Then I got really brave, and decided to jump the ridiculously large swedish oxer that was set up. It was about 3'ish, give or take, and WIDE. Really wide. But it was a fantastic tool for me to teach myself about appropriate distances - with a fence that big, if I botched the distance I'd have a rail down on either side, depending on if we were too long or too short.
The first time, I asked Dino to jump way too close. He is awesome, and listened, and took down the front rail with his front legs. Lesson learned.
I committed, again, to that forward, flowing pace, LEFT MY PONY ALONE, and what do you know, he hunted down that oxer, found a perfect spot, and readjusted my spine with the insane back-snapping jump he gave it. Video footage:
I was a little annoyed with myself for coming back into the saddle a bit early on the back side there. We were in the air a lot longer than I'm used to, and I needed to compensate for the extra flight time, which I did successfully the next time around:
Ideally, I would have been more pleased with those jumps if I had used an auto release, but my over-done hunter crest release at least gave Dino a lot of freedom in the air. And then there are these awesome stills!
I LOVE this dude. He is just phenomenal. I can't believe that a year ago jumping 2' by myself was a huge deal, and now we're skipping over giant oxers like it's no thing. We have both come so far in terms of confidence and education recently, and I'm just so, so happy with where we're headed!