At last, another riding lesson!
Due to my busy week/a host of other issues, I haven’t been able to get out for a lesson in some time. Yesterday I was finally able to get back! I’ve still been riding – hacking horses a couple times a week at work – just not jumping or lessoning. I’m really glad I was able to get back, though, because I missed it! And Trainer is great. We both have noticed that just in the two months I’ve had this job (and only a few weeks of riding there) I’ve already gotten a lot stronger. (That doesn’t mean, of course, that I didn’t complain when she asked for posting without stirrups! ;)) She also mentioned that the way she’s coaching me has changed. Before, it was a lot of “push yourself to do X” stuff – drilling to help with my strength and balance, or fixing major mistakes. Now, it’s all very nitpicky – turn your toe in two degrees, just slightly change that striding – stuff that’s very small and deliberate. I love it! It’s great to not have to worry about the big stuff and think more about subtlety in my riding.
Our warmup jumps were great and Mini and I were really getting along, even though the horses I’ve been riding lately are nothing at all like her! Yesterday’s jumping exercise was a fun one – a bending line to a one-stride.
We started off trotting in to the green plank, cantering out on a bending four strides to the one-stride. Getting the striding here was a little difficult for me – you had to push to make the four, but too strung out going into the one stride and you would end up chipping. Which is what I did. Trainer explained that I needed to push for the first strides in the bend and then hold for the final stride, instead of pushing at the end.
Then we did the opposite direction – going over the grey plank and bending to the one stride. The striding here was longer and Trainer asked me to do it in a five. I did it in six, with a beautiful in-and-out. That was not the point she had intended to illustrate, Trainer said, but it did still illustrate a point – even with a shorter stride, it’s more important to be balanced, because that will make the final jumps better. Readers, I think I’m learning how to not just run at the jumps! I continued to have a little bit of trouble with the striding on this one – it turned out I was jumping in on a not-so-great angle. (Trainer had me walk over and see where my tracks over the grey fence were. Too far to the outside.) To combat this, we did my least favourite exercise ever because it freaks me out – she stood in the middle of the line and said, “Go around me!” I did manage to not hit her – barely – and that more definitive turn definitely helped make the entire exercise run better!
Then we put them together into a course for the grand finale! Grey fence, five strides to the in-and-out, left hand turn to the fire (red and orange) jump, right hand turn outside the grey to the green plank, four strides to the in-and-out. Lead changes galore! Trainer also put the second element of the one stride up a good bit. When I got off, it was definitely taller than I had thought it had been!
The first ride was perfect for the first three fences, but as is my wont with Mini, I didn’t hold her head up well enough through the turn to the fire, and got a very late lead change heading to the green. With those challenges in mind, we did the latter portion of the course again with a much more organised turn and a – gasp! – real lead change in the right spot, before turning! Mini loves jumping and she was definitely having fun as we soared over the final fence, and so was I!
After that, Mini got a hose down and we grazed for a good long while. I wouldn’t give up my job for the world, but it is definitely nice to have some no-strings-attached horse time!