Friday, September 24, 2021

You have 3 options

We had a super productive lesson with JT this week. We warmed up with the usual bend, counter-bend until he was nice and supple and lifting his shoulders. Apparently when I am following with my hands at the canter, my left hand moves "about half as much" as my right hand does. I also have a distinct urge to get stiff in my lower back. We did a little of the forward and UP exercise. A mini canter lengthening followed by bouncing the canter a little more compact and pushing the energy up. She never likes to describe it as shortening and always uses the words "bounce" and bring the energy "up".

We then moved on to warming up over a crossrail, like usual, back and forth until we were getting it right - soft and forward. Our first course involved the cross rail to a 4 stride line with the liver pool as the in and an oxer as the out then a right hand turn to a one stride then a 5 or 6 stride bending line to an oxer. Then a roll back to the right to a natural. I missed at the crossrail and then again at the in of the liverpool. I still managed to sit up and ride the 4 strides to the out and he jumped that well. This prompted her discussion of options: 
  1. Stretch up, close leg, basically do nothing other than support the spot you're going to get. As a reformed chase him down to the spot that isn't there, riding a horse who is very easy to chase flat and long, this is my preferred option these days. At least now that she has me riding with my eye on the jump, I know it is going to be awkward and it isn't surprising or unseating. In fact when we got an awkward distance to the crossrail he actually sat back and used himself REALLY well over the jump. 
  2. Bounce the canter stride shorter for the next 4 strides (the distance I told her I could see we were going to be off) to wait for the jump. She said this one is going to be our hardest option given that we don't so much have a collected canter right now. 
  3. Ask for just a bit more step so we spread the long spot out over the 4 canter strides before it. I only tried this out once because of my fear of pushing him flat and down into the jump. 
We isolated the right rollback section of the course for 4-5 runs through that. Creating the bouncy, energetic canter and then not killing it by pulling on the inside rein to turn was SO hard for me. I had to really sit up and turn with my whole body. The idea of keeping both hands together but on the proper sides of the neck really helped. The first time we got the turn right, I celebrated by chasing him to the long spot at the jump. So then we had to do it again without my celebratory shove him downhill into the fence. 

Overall a really challenging, but very productive lesson. I love looking back on our first few lessons, we have both come SO far. He felt VERY tuned in this lesson. The first time through the rollback turn, he was kinda wondering why I was pulling him around like that (me too bud, me too...), but as soon as he saw the fence he went "OH, we're going to jump that, got it!" He felt that way on the flat too, I picked up the reins from a walk break and got an instant "What are we doing, where are we going?" feeling from him. It's really cool.

We're signed up for Majestic Oaks at entry so we can hopefully come out of the start box GOING this time and so that JT can see us go. She said if that went well then we'd pick out a date for his BN debut. 


  1. That all sounds really wonderful and positive!

    1. It was, I am absolutely loving my weekly lessons.