So, a recent post by The $900 Facebook Pony spoke about being “Perpetually Remedial.” And I got my own dose of this in today’s jump lesson.
Trainer Sarah set up a bending line with cones before and after the jumps on one side of the arena, and a skinny with a narrow alley followed by another skinny on the other side of the arena.
We started by trotting through the exercise (which was a bit of a challenge for me to begin with), then cantered through it as poles on the ground.
The skinny line was supposed to ride as a 5, when jumped, but you could adjust and get anywhere from 5-7. I stared by getting 7, then 6, and then 5. Sarah asked me to get 6 again, as we were getting flatter and longer as we went on. I came around and got 5. I came back and rode it exactly the same way and weirdly got 5 again. At this point she was basically yelling at me to CHANGE SOMETHING, so I came through and rode it as a 5. Again. Um, at this point the lesson should have just been over, because clearly there was no learning happening. On the fourth attempt, I came through and rode a lovely 6. Easily. I have no idea why I didn’t do that the first three times. It was really ridiculous and embarrassing and I hope to never mention it again.
The bending line became jumps and the skinny line became barrels to jump. The point of the lesson today was straightness and accuracy, but I could tell Sarah thought we had bigger problems. The lesson turned into “becoming a thinking rider all the time.” She told us we could ride the bending line in 4 or 5 strides, but that we had to decide and do something about it, not just let things happen. The straight line should ride in a 5, but if it didn’t look like 5 was going to happen, we had to make that decision and change things.
The first time through I rode the bending line in 5, and the barrels in 6. I knew we could go for the long 5, but decided not to. Our approach hadn’t been straight and we were a bit strung out which I wanted to fix. Sarah was pleased with our decision. Another time we came in and Sarah yelled to go on for the 4, but I knew it wasn’t going to work out, so asked for the 5. The straight line rode well and we got a nice 5. Again, I made a decision and stuck to it and Sarah was happy with that. (Even though I totally didn’t do what she was yelling at me to do, which was a risky move, but something a thinking rider is willing to take a chance on…)
We had a couple more fine rides and then I decided I was going to try for the 4 in the bending line. We jumped in, I immediately put my leg on, and while I knew it would be a bit long, it was totally doable, and we got the 4. Georgie was a bit on the forehand and cross cantering to the skinny so I got her back up, trotted a step to get our lead and had a good corner to the skinny where we had a nice 5 stride.
Sarah told me I got a gold star for that ride. Which was nice, and made up for being a moron in the beginning. Almost.
I loved this exercise and loved having to make quick decisions and think the whole way through. Most of you probably already do this, but for me, I can get a bit “deer in the headlights” when jumping stadium jumps.
My homework this week is going to be to do the skinny exercise on my own. In 5,6 and 7 strides. And deciding before I get to the jumps what I will be doing. And having good corners and a straight horse.
Wish me luck. 🙂