Who doesn’t love watching a really good rider ride your horse? I mean, its so fun to see the potential your horse has when someone who knows what they are doing rides it! After my meltdown last week (see prior post), I declared that I was NOT RIDING UNTIL MY BACK WAS BETTER. I think I said it that loudly in real life, too. So, Sarah, being the kind hearted person she is has been riding Georgie in my lessons so I can observe how the mare should be going.
We’ve been working for a long time on Adjustability and Rideability. I am not sure those words need to be capitalized, but in my mind, they are. At our last event this fall, we had a question on cross country that tested both these things, and we nearly failed the test. There was a log on a gentle downhill, followed by three or four straight strides, sharp left turn to a half coffin (ditch to a hanging log). I slowed Georgie to the downhill log and took a defensive position. However, she didn’t really want to slow down so she grabbed the bit, flew over the jump, wouldn’t come back to me and we almost didn’t make the turn to the ditch. Clearly no rideability or adjustability on that one. Mentally preparing for the jump the night before I pictured a lovely collected/bouncy/uphill canter to the downhill log, followed by a well executed half halt afterwards which brought Georgie back to me and had her think, “Oh, what do I need to do now?” and gave us a great approach to the ditch.
The fact that none of that happened wasn’t surprising, or devestating, but it made me realize we still had lots to work on.
So, in the most recent jump lesson where Sarah rode her she worked on both these things. Sarah asked Georgie to take off from a certain spot, instead of grabbing the bit and taking over. She asked Georgie to get to the base of the jump without shortening her stride. She asked Georgie to change her stride multiple times throughout the lesson. It was the best lesson on Georgie I have ever watched. I saw Georgie take the bit and take over. I saw her inability to get to the base without shortening. I saw her try and try again to do it her way. At one point, Sarah was coming off the rail to angle a jump and Georgie didn’t realize they were jumping until about two strides out, where she grabbed the bit and tried to leave long, even though Sarah pushed her to the base. Was she any more rideable or adjustable than she had been almost a year ago despite all my work with her?
The answer is yes. She has two distinct canters, and although I would like her to have three, or 50, she has two. Which is one more than she used to. And she is straighter and more forward than she has ever been. She will land in a combination and go on, rather than suck back. So, there’s progress, and I can see all that when Sarah rides her, which is awesome. But it also opened my eyes to something else. Sarah, an accomplished rider, could not get Georgie to the base of the jump without Georgie shortening. And two or three times Sarah had to pull Georgie up before the jump because Georgie grabbed the bit and took over.
So, perhaps this is as rideable and adjustable as Georgie gets. I’m not saying she’ll never improve, but I clearly saw a limit to what she can do, which was eye opening. She’s one of the safest and most willing horses I have ever ridden. She’ll jump anything in front of her, and she’s game for trying anything. But… she wants to do it her way. And at a higher level, like Prelim, that might become unsafe. The last thing I would ever want is for Georgie to get hurt. But I also know, that at Training level, where things are starting to become less straightforward, we struggle with the rideability. I can’t even imagine what that would be like at Prelim.
So, it’s not sad, it’s just eye opening. I had no grand plans of going prelim, and right now I just need to focus on being able to ride, which Georgie is totally game for. And honestly, as great as it is watching a great rider ride your horse, isn’t it also great to see them have a tough time with things you struggle with? Clearly Sarah rode Georgie better than I could ever hope to, but Georgie was still going to be who she was with Sarah. And that is a lovely, adorable, semi rideable and adjustable, very opinionated, mare. Who I love very much
Nadia and Georgie