First time riding in almost a month means ow, my legs; why did I think this was a good idea? Today’s lesson report is not going to be very exciting simply because I am still exhausted and processing the ride just seems like an UnFun idea when compared to naptime.
Scooby was very good on the ground today; he was polite in the crossties and didn’t spook walking up to the barn from the paddock! (He’s very looky and he probably always will be but there was no stopping or jigging today, which sometimes happens.)
After our basic walk/trot warmup Trainer had me try to two point around the ring at the trot. I say ‘try’ because at my current fitness level I can hold two point for approximately ten seconds. Kelsey laughed at me. I laughed at me. But I did try, and I did, sort of, more or less, get around the ring once in each direction at the two point. Mostly. Maybe. There is no photographic evidence so you’ll have to take my word for it. 😉
We also worked at sitting trot, which was much better. I love sitting trot. I ride better at sitting trot than at posting trot – I talked about this a bit in my last lesson report, about how I turn and balance much better while sitting. I love sitting trot. It feels like every part of my body just sort of falls into place right where it’s supposed to be. Needless to say, sitting trot was decidedly not a fail. I could honestly ride for the rest of my life just in sitting trot. But that would make me a dressage rider, and while I love dressage, I also really love jumping.
We warmed up trotting a small plank. Trotting fences is not my forte, so I had some very funny distances and got left behind/sat down too early a few times. Scooby is not the type of horse who tolerates mistakes – not because he’s malicious or trying to get out of work (I really do think he loves jumping) but simply because he doesn’t know what to do if you don’t tell him exactly what you want. He’s like the equestrian equivalent of a computer. Luckily, as I started to get with the motion more, things got much better!
Then we trot-in-cantered-out the plank to another plank in a line, going the opposite direction (away from the barn). I was able to put a lot of the stuff I worked on in my last lesson about keeping the turn square and I’m happy to report we didn’t have any bad turns! It was really nice to see how I can continue building on what I learn every time – it’s the type of thing I know, logically, that I can do, but it’s so gratifying to really put it into practice.
Now, I’m going to confess to something that may be a little bit shocking: despite my very classical hunter upbringing, I don’t usually count strides within lines unless I’m really thinking about it. I know I should but I don’t really feel the need to. I ride it the way it feels right – I’m not concerned with making a certain number of strides as long as it ‘felt right’. I do often count down to the jump, but in between lines is more of a ‘feel’ to me than a prescribed number.
I could see that the line was set in five strides so when Trainer asked me how many strides I did, I said, “Five?”, which was an assumption based solely on the fact that the line felt like it rode the way it was supposed to. It was also a wrong one – I’d done it in six, because when you trot in, you add a stride. Good job, self. The next few times around I made sure to pay more attention to that. We then did the line cantering home. I completely lost my balance on at least one occasion getting left behind on a big jump but I did not fall off, which I consider to be an improvement!
Finally we did the line going away to a a one-stride coming home. Scooby is a BIG horse and he likes to run home. The challenge here was staying balanced and collected on the approach and not letting him run away with me – because if he pulls you out of your seat you’re pretty much done. Luckily, Scooby also collects his stride beautifully when you ask him to. We only did the full ‘course’ a few times because it only took a few times to get it more or less perfect. Scooby is such a fun horse to jump – when you get it right, you know you’ve gotten it right! He even let out a few happy bucks after our last go – and deservedly.
So in conclusion, here are some things to work on for next time:
- TWO POINT. I’ll be doing some wall sits over the next week. Hopefully I can go for longer than ten seconds!
- Releasing. I’m doing better with this already, but I hate feeling like I’m balancing on the horse’s mouth. Remember that it is okay to grab mane.
- BALANCE. Don’t fall off. Don’t get left behind.