Something that Trainer B beat into me over and over the last 6 months was “go faster than you want to,” and “get straight and increase to the fence every time.” The reasons were twofold: 1) Get forward momentum to each fence so P would be less likely to slam to a stop, and 2) keep leg on to support him to and over the fence.
See, I would have P crawling along like a western pleasure horse because I was so insecure as it was, and the fact that P would stop at EVERYTHING didn’t exactly have me thrilled to add speed to his already athletic sliding stops.
But…I pushed out of my comfort zone and pretty soon we were zooming around. Zooming for us, I mean. Definitely not going to be winning any speed rounds. Which I’m totally fine with.
And we’ve been bravely marching forward since Trainer B abandoned us for sunny Florida a few weeks ago. And been doing ok.
But of course there are always things to work on. We have a mean right drift, for starters.
Which, after watching the helmet cam from the first BN a jillion times, I’m pretty sure I’ve pinpointed the cause.
I figured it was lower body imbalance on my part….specifically my once-broken left ankle that was causing me to shift my weight in such a way that P would go to the right. But after many jumps of me solely being conscious of the weight in my heels/seat, I determined (because I’m a pro) that wasn’t it. What is it then? Well, based on the angle of the helmet cam from the BN XC, I then hypothesized that I’m STARING at the right side of each jump. Presumably because I’m aware of the right drift and want to make sure we don’t MISS the jump, but by staring at it, I’m causing P to go there. He’s uber sensitive like that.
So after warming up/working on those stupid downward transitions, we finally nailed a canter to trot transition and got to the fun stuff.
So then we went to jumping, popping over a little vertical over and over and over, only looking at the left side/standard. And guess what? No more right drift.
So then it was time to change it up because P can’t drill anything for too long. So we (re: Husband) hiked the jumps up to 2’6″-2’11” and did a little course of 7 jumps. And P was just perfect. Media fail here…for some reason my phone’s camera was super blurry throughout most of it, but the final jump (2’11” gate) was in focus, at least. Stupid iPhone.
Anyway, when I watched it back I was horrified. Look at how P is CRAWLING to the jump. Is he hesitating like he’s going to stop? No. Would he have every reason to? Yes.
So yesterday I went out and set up a grid. 3 trot poles spaced 4′ apart, then 10′ to a cross-rail, 18′ to the next x-rail/vertical, then 21′ to a larger vertical. I built it one element at a time, ending with an x-rail to a 2′ vertical to a 2’6″ vertical. I specifically put the 21′ in because that would be just slightly long for P, forcing me to press him forward.
The first time through, I just sat there and did nothing, causing a chip to both verticals and P graciously saved us. Then I had a little pep talk with myself- if I don’t get it together, P’s going to start stopping again and I won’t be able to even be mad at him for it.
So we went back through while recalling a specific lesson where we went through a grid and I repeatedly botched the strides in between fences.
And the ensuing words, “Push your body away from him while pressing your hands towards him.”
And whaddya know? Perfect. After raising the fences and repeating a few more times, I called it quits.
Trot-Crossrail-Vertical-Vertical. I totally nailed it this time.
That was all I really wanted to do, particularly since I was a jump crew of 1. Pilgrim was NO HELP AT ALL.
It was the perfect way to get me back to thinking forward.
And now it’s going to rain AAALLLLL day so P gets today off.
If you can share any good exercises, please do so!