For those of us in the frigid part of the world, winter is a time to step back and reevaluate how things are going. There are no upcoming events unless a haul to a warmer climate is happening, and so we get to take this time to work on holes in our training, and work on becoming more solid riders. I look at winter as a solid 5 months of indoor arena time. And for me that means practice, practice practice.
You better believe that while I am trotting in endless circles in the indoor I’m dreaming of being back out on our beautiful trails. Or that when my coach tells me to gallop to a fence I pretend we are galloping on grass somewhere in Oregon, or Montana. But for now it’s a lot of dreaming. And getting my butt kicked in lessons.
We’ve had some great jump and dressage lessons. In our dressage, we have been working on straightness in the walk to canter, or counter canter, transition. It sounds kinda boring, but it is SO fun. Seriously. Really hard work, but I love it. Georgie and I have gone from haunches out and me pulling her head one way in order to get a transition, to working on and almost always getting a transition that is straight without much use of my hands. I can pretty reliably ask for counter canter on a straight line with just my seat. Lots more homework, but its been great. The one loops in the Prelim dressage tests will seem easy compared to this work.
Our jump lessons have been fun and challenging as well. In our most recent lesson we worked on seeing our distance. I can see my distance from 3 strides out pretty consistently. But Sarah bumped it up a notch or two for this lesson.
We started with a ground pole and would say “1” when we were a stride out. Then 1,2, then 1,2, 3 and so on. All the way to 8 strides out. Which was around a corner. I never ever thought I would get this. And then it became a 2’3 jump. And then a 2’9 jump. And lastly a 3’3 or so jump. As the jump got bigger the strides changed a bit and I had to account for that. But all in all, it went pretty well. I learned that I had to have a good corner (duh), keep things consistent, and a couple of times I saw a different distance than Georgie may have, but I could easily and safely ask her to jump from my distance, and did! Sure, I shortened her a couple of times too, which was cheating, but all in all I was pleased with how it went and how not only could I see my distances, but could do something about them as well!
The exercise was one I can easily do on my own as well, and keep practicing. I struggle to jump when I am by myself, but this one I think I would feel safe doing as the jump can really be at any height. (Am I the ony one who thinks they will die when jumping alone despite having jumped crazy ass things alone as a kid?)
I guess I’m looking forward to more winter work, but really we all know it’s so we can get out and enjoy those events!