Yesterday I posted my plan for strengthening my abilities to:
- Sit the canter
- Jump P on a loose rein without him flinging himself over and taking off
- Ride P through his naughtiness rather than let him intimidate me
Took a lot of channeling my inner Boyd Martin, but both rides yesterday and tonight were HUGE successes!
Yesterday I got to the barn with the intention of riding in the indoor and having trot poles on one side and small jump on the other side. The indoor isn’t really big enough for anything else, but lessons are typically every weekday from 5:30-6:30 and 6:30-7:30 so I figured I wouldn’t have a choice. Imagine my barely contained excitement when I found out lessons had been cancelled since the BO was going out of town!
I stuck to my plan of cantering 2 minutes and then did w/t transitions for 3 minutes, then repeated for 30 minutes. Poor P was a little bewildered at first, but besides a couple of mini explosions, he was fine. By cantering so much, I was able to pinpoint my problem- my ankle, of course. My right heel (the good one) was sunk down and in a good position, but because I don’t have full mobility of my left one yet, I was balancing on my toe, which made me waaaay crooked. So at least there’s a legit reason besides that I suck.
Then we started jumping, just a small gate (the one above without the poles) and P was LAUNCHING us over it. I was careful not to touch his mouth and just let him fling himself over, then pulled him up and backed him up, releasing every time he took a step backwards. That’s his “punishment” for getting quick- I also did it every time he bolted in the canter and by the end of the first 1/2 hour, he was doing walk-canter transitions super quietly.
So we continued to launch, halt, back up about 7-8 times before he jumped super quiet and was rewarded immensely. We did it a few more times and then I put the pole up (not as an oxer, though) and he started the flinging again, so we halted, backed up and repeated 2-3 more times until he politely jumped it and quietly cantered away. We repeated it 4 times where he jumped nicely and called it a day. I was ecstatic.
Tonight I dragged my husband out with me because no one was going to be at the farm (the ring to myself 2 days in a row…what a luxury) and because I NEEDED videos taken. So we
drugged gave the kids electronics and locked asked them to sit quietly in the car while Matt acted as jump crew and videographer
I skipped the cantering sets this time because my 2 year old has zero attention span and I wanted to make sure I was able to get the jumping in. We practiced the walk-canter transitions each way a few times then got right to the jumps.
My directions from trainer D are to:
- Trot fences to build his patience and his hind end (he’s got weak stifles), then canter out
- Loose rein. He needs to figure out his body without me holding him together
- Sit the %$#! back
Pilgrim: TROT TOO SLOW NOT SURE WE’LL MAKE IT HOLD ON AND PREPARE FOR TAKEOFF…WHEEEEEE!!!!
5 seconds later: WHY I BACK UP I SAVE US WE NO DIE?
So we halted, backed up and came around again.
Pilgrim: I TROT I TROT I TROT I CANT TROT WE DIE SORRY LADY HOLD ON….BUT LOOK HOW CALM I LAND….(softly) wheeeee!
Even though he broke into the canter (my left hand was like…sigh, grab mane), he was so calm landing and cantering away that I called it good.
So then we put it up to an oxer. Pilgrim has been funny about oxers in the past (it’s what got us eliminated at KFP’s CT last November) .
Pilgrim: I JUMP AGAIN WE ARE JUMPING NO WHAT IS THIS NEW POLE NOW IT IS A TROLL CAVE LET ME PAUSE IN MIDAIR AND MAKE SURE WE ARE SAFE OK WE ARE SAFE I WILL FINISH JUMPING NOW
So we did it again. See a theme?
He was little nervous but calm upon landing so I still called it a good jump. And then we did it again. And it was fantastic.
So we went to the other end of the arena and jumped a small vertical.
And he was fantastic so we went back to the oxer to see how he’d handle jumping bigger after a tiny one and it was PHENOMENAL. You guys. My horse has the ability to be awesome. He trotted in calmly, jumped, and cantered away every so politely.
Pilgrim: DIS NO FUN I JUMP SO SLOW WE WILL NEVER MAKE OPTIMUM TIME LIKE THIS I EVENT HORSE NOT HUNTER BUT I DONT WANT TO BACK UP NO MO’ SO I DO THIS JUST FOR YOU
So my takeaways:
-I have the ability to sit whatever Pilgrim throws at me. He can bolt, spook sideways, drop his shoulder, bounce around on his feet…whatever. I can still stick to him, therefore there’s no reason for me to be intimidated by him when he’s not perfect.
-Although I felt like I was practically laying on his butt, I am still leaning forward- though not nearly as bad as before.
-I’m going to put his neck strap on next time so my left “grab mane” hand stops doing that weird sideways thing.
-Pilgrim is smart so as long as I punish and reward at the appropriate times, he will learn what he should and shouldn’t do.
-That oxer was just about 2’6″ and it felt small
I can’t WAIT for my xc lesson tomorrow morning with trainer D. These last two days proved we CAN have good rides…as long as I actually ride.