Friday I headed to Trainer B’s with some mishaps from the week on my mind. So when he asked the usual question about how P was this week, I was all, “How do I choose which of my horrible habits to present?”
Here, Trainer B. Here’s all of them.
- It’s super hard for me to sit the canter to the right. It’s P’s stiffer way and he’s really bad about putting ALL of his weight on his front right. So much weight you can practically see his left hind peddling in the air.
2. I can’t stop micromanaging P to fences. If we’re 3-4 strides away and I see that we’re not going to meet the fence perfectly, I pick at him. I think back all the time to the Clayton Fredericks clinic I audited this past January, where he said if the distance is wrong you have two options: push or wait. Never pull, because if you pull going into the fence and it doesn’t go well, the horse blames you for it. Nevertheless, I’m fiddling with his face nonstop.
3. I sit too long before fences, get left behind, and in an attempt to “catch-up,” I pinch with my knee, which swings my lower leg back and tips me forward. This is the opposite problem that I used to have- where I’d lean at every fence, but P stopping really taught me to not to trust that we’re leaving the ground until we’re in the air.
So we started with the canter. And the fix is, uhh, awkward. I have to sit back and waaaay to the left. Like, ridiculously to the left, while keeping my right leg on for bend, left leg behind the girth, and open left rein as if I’m leg-yielding. OMG so awkward. We worked on that for a bit, and I get to do that every time I canter. Fun.
Next he addressed both jumping issues with one exercise. He put a ground pole down 42 ft away from a jump that P has jumped many, many times before, to make it 3 strides from the pole to the jump. Then he had me get in half seat and practice getting P’s hip angle further underneath him and his shoulders elevated, and then keeping that around the corner until we reached the pole. When we went over the pole, I had to give a little tap with my legs and soften, to sorta “slingshot” P forward over the jump.
Once we had done that a couple times and it was clear P was going to jump, we worked on me. I did all of the above, and then thought of keeping my knees soft, shoving my feet forward and keeping my chest and head up.
But it was great, and it’s an exercise that’s easy to set up at home.
So we only have to do this a million more times, give or take a few.
Saturday I headed to a local jumper show to put all this into practice. My plan going in had been to use the 2’6″ as a warm-up (yes, really), then go into 2’9″, 3’0″, and, if those went well, 3’3″.
The website said the show started at 1, and 2’6″ was class #9, so we pulled in at 12:45…and they were already on class 3 after starting at 12:30.
I had this moment of panic when I realized they were about to start 2’3″ and thought maybe I should go in to let P see the jumps. But I didn’t, and stayed with my plan to use 2’6″ as our warm-up.
And…it was fine.
He felt like he hesitated when I got him straight to 7 and he saw both jumps, but when I saw the video I think he just chipped in vs thought about stopping. And he’s clearly unimpressed by 2’6″. So unlike last year when we couldn’t make it around a 2’6″ course for anything.
So we had awhile to go, since there were a bunch of other riders, and I hopped off P to let him graze while I talked to BO, who had come along to help and take videos (hooray for great friends who understand the importance of media). Then one of the volunteers came over to where we were standing and handed me a blue ribbon. I asked if they were done with 2’6″ and he said yeah, so I headed to the counter to add 2’9″. The lady looked a little crestfallen and said there were no entries, so they were going to conclude the show. I said, “Ok, so I can’t go in then?” and she said, “Well, can you help us raise the fences since you’re the only entry?” Uhhh, sure.
So I did, then hopped on P, trotted him in a circle and we headed in.
He felt awesome, and I so badly wanted to see if we could raise them to 3′, but when I headed out the gate, the volunteer handed me my blue ribbon (since I was the only one) and walked in the opposite direction. So I rode to the counter and before I could even say anything, the woman told me she had filled my check out for $40 (I had left an open check so I could add classes), and asked me if she could get my number from me. Okkkkk then, guess we’re done.
It was still fun, though. To put it like Michael Jung, P “gave me a great feeling,” and I couldn’t have asked for more.
Even better, I feel like I really used all that we worked on the day before in the rounds, and even when things didn’t go perfectly, I was able to let P sort it out rather than start meddling. Sort of a crucial quality in an event horse, no?
Though I made the mistake of posting the pictures/videos on FB and quickly earned myself a comment from Trainer B, noting that Novice was 2’11”. Hey- I wanted to go in the higher classes!