Saturday Pony Extravaganza! PART 1
|Same indoor, same shirt, different day. Close enough to actual pics of my lesson, right?!|
Saturday was exhausting! Somehow, I got myself scheduled for hour-long lessons on both Dino AND Sully, and also told my friend I'd hop on her horse while she was away all in the same day. After riding three horses in a row, I was totally wiped out. And very sore. But it was so much fun!
Let the tale of my Pony Extravaganza begin!
First up, a recap of my jump lesson on Dino.
I was really looking forward to jumping in this lesson, mostly because I haven't been able to jump at all at home since it hasn't rained one drop in almost the past month. Miraculously, the pastures aren't too crispy, but the soil underneath is hard as concrete, very uneven, and the dry grass is quite slick. No bueno for jumpjump ponies! Our "reward" jumps at the end of the last lesson were also so great and so fun that I was (actually) eager to do it again!
Dino, Sully, and I got dropped off at my trainer's barn super early, so we had some time to kill before my first lesson. We spent it watching another rider's jump lesson on her super duper fancy, very lovely recent German import. Instead of watching and learning from that fabulous horse, Dino took our time standing around in the indoor to mean that he could nap. And then continue to nap throughout our lesson.
Needless to say, it took a bit of effort to get the Go Button functioning in the beginning of the ride. Lots and lots of letting Dino make the mistake of getting behind my leg, booting him forward, aaaand repeat. I maintained the light, giving contact we worked so hard on in our last lesson, and kept consistently pushing Dino up and forward towards my hand, making sure he maintained his own momentum around turns and through circles, as well as on the straightaways. Once I achieved a Self-Propelled-Pony, we started right in on the jumping.
Our warm up was very simple - cantering back and forth over a crossrail with placing poles on either side. (Notice how my trainer is no longer babying me with trot jumps to start. She's sneaky!) I used the exercise to get our pace right, and soon we were popping back and forth over the little jump out of a nice forward canter. Slowly the single X morphed into a five-stride line to a small vertical, and then a line of slightly larger verticals.
I found it really, really easy to ride, and got better and better at finding our ideal jumping canter as the lesson went on. The five strides, which I had seen the 'big' horse in the previous lesson jump, was coming up really easily and almost felt a little tight! I found myself thinking that we could have handily done it in four if I had just a bit more oomph.
After we had rolled on through the line a few times, we started jumping courses. The other fences in the ring were a sort of mini-hogsback on the opposite long side, a diagonal gate, and an oxer on the other diagonal, all about 2'3-2'6ish, and we jumped them all in various combinations.
The theme of all of our courses was KEEP. GOING.
Dino and I have a tendency to get sucked into our corners and lose momentum as I sit to "balance" him around the turn. My instructions were to not give in to my desire to use my seat and hands in the corners, but to keep riding forward, always aiming to feel like Dino was pulling me to the fences. And I made it my silent goal to jump every fence the FIRST TIME - even the gate that I somehow always forget how to ride to, and the oxer that was mildly freaking me out.
Our first course was AWESOME! We jumped everything the first time (yay!!), really nailed our forward pace out of many of the turns, and when I got a little stuck in the corner coming to the hogsback, I managed to get up out of the tack, put my leg on, and save the day instead of letting the situation devolve into a crawling pace or a stop.
WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER.
The lesson continued in that fashion, with Dino and I generally being awesome and my brain staying between my ears where it belongs. Once I came in to the five-stride line with too little pace, and Dino wondered whether I would make him jump the thing. You know what happened? I put my leg on, and he jumped the whole darn line and we finished the course in a beautiful forward canter.
For our final trick, my trainer built a triple combination out of the line - a vertical, 2 long strides to an oxer, one stride out over a vertical. Coming in the first time, I didn't have our good jumping gallop, and I was unsure about whether to ride for the two or just settle for three strides, and made the mistake of taking my leg off and pulling on the reins.
Because, you know, that's helpful.
Dino was not going to put up with that nonsense, and did not jump the triple. Can you blame him? I did it to him again (arghhh!!), and at that point my trainer had mercy on me and broke down the second and third elements to very very small jumps or poles for the sake of my brain. We came through. We jumped it. The jumps went up a little bit. We jumped it again (getting the forward 2-stride every time!). The jumps went back up to their full height eventually, and we jumped through the entire triple like GANGSTERS and then went on to finish the rest of the course, which, if I may say so myself, was FREAKIN' PHENOMENAL! I was so, so happy with how we ended the lesson. I felt 100% confident, our canter was on point, and I felt like Dino was out in front of my leg and pulling me to the fences the entire time. To top it off, he was jumping really, really well over everything! I couldn't be more pleased with how we've progressed since the beginning of the summer!
My key takeaways from this ride were:
- Strong leg and soft hands - ride the pony up and forward into the bridle, feel like he is pulling you along as you head towards the fences.
- KEEP GOING in the corners - stay light in your seat and don't slow down and get stuck! Stay soft, and maintain the impulsion.
- Keep your eye up - especially if you don't see a distance right away! Look above & past the jump, keep your leg on, and ride the rhythm. Everything will be OK.
- You can trust Dino to get the job done - the only time problems happen is when YOU make a mistake!
Stay tuned for our next installment... Sully's Dressage Lesson!