Back-to-Back Jump Lessons

In anticipation of being out of town next weekend for a friend’s wedding,  I decided to splurge a bit and take back-to-back lessons this weekend. I usually don’t love the idea of jumping so much in 2 days, but I remind myself how much we ask them to do at multi day shows and that it might be good to occasionally jump a bit more then usual to see how we both handle it.

Saturday was a bit chillier then I expected (55ish) and so windy that you could barely hear. Our poor trainer had to yell most of the time to be heard. Rio came out beep-bopping around like a baby goat.  Cute in goats, mildly concerning in an 18 hand horse. Trainer Stacie was amazing though and coached me through letting him get out his energy, predominately by letting him canter on a large circle and staying soft and loose even when he tested out being a kite. After about 10 minutes he decided he wasn’t actually that energetic after all and he was AMAZING for our lesson. Incredibly calm and rhythmic, even through the insane wind (that was ocassionaly blowing over jump wings just for fun). We worked a lot on roll-backs, and staying relaxed in my hips. When I tense them up he can get tight through his back and will try to drop low and lean on the bit.

Always living the caveletti and poles life

Sunday’s lesson was just as educational. We started by doing some cavelettis holding our reins flipped like driving reins. If you have never done that, I highly suggest it! It totally changes the feel of  your contact and can be really eye opening. Weirdly, I actually really liked it and Rio felt amazing! I am going to start incorporating it in my flatwork routine. We also continued to work on staying loose in my hips by having me drop a stirrup anytime I started to get too tense. May sound weird, but it totally worked.

holding the reins like driving reins


We did more actual course work on Sunday and it went really smoothly, even though it was in the 40’s to start out. I am still having a bit of trouble landing the right lead, but we did get it few times. We also didn’t have a lot of success with flying changes, but I didn’t ask very often either. We pretty much take the mentality in lessons that if the set-up for the change doesn’t feel good, then don’t ask. Well, our ring is a bit on the short side for a big guy like Rio, and I often don’t feel like I have enough time to set up properly, so I do a down transition versus a change. Sometimes I get in my head and think I’ll just do the change, but I don’t prepare. It’s more of a spastic. “Oh shit we didn’t land to lead. Oh shit we don’t have a lot of time. Oh shit there is corner. Oh shit maybe if I kick and pull erratically we will miraculously get it!” HAHAHAHA YA RIGHT. I really need to calm my brain down and focus on preparing for success.


When your horse and you make the same face once you hear the course your trainer wants you to attempt. We are obviously not enthused.

Our overall canter and actual jumps were amazing though. Rio was very very responsive, and all of our distances showed up, and we were both making good decisions. He hasn’t been this relaxed in probably a month, which considering the weather was pretty surprising. I feel like we are both settling into our respective jobs, and feeling more confident overall.


In summary (more to organize my thoughts then anything) here are the things I need to continue to focus on:

  • Staying relaxed in the hips always, but especially when I am trying to shut down a big canter. Pulling on the reins while also have tense hips makes for a pissy Rio, not a softer/slower canter
  • Staying STRAIGHT with my body when I think about landing the lead, not trying to get it my throwing my weight to the inside of the fence. This does not work, trust
  • I basically need zero outside rein when turning right, if I hang on it, we will 100% not land the right lead
  • Continue to get used to the feel of contact when using a driving rein, and envision that feel even when I go back to a normal hold on the reins
  • Prepare for the change if attempting it. Do not go into spastic mode and just hope and pray it will happen
More driving rein fun

Those are pretty much my big take always after a lesson filled weekend. What about you guys? What are you struggling with?


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  1. Can you talk more about your long term plan for improving lead changes and maybe how you are not upset about it (at least your post doesn’t read that way and I could use some perspective I think)? Personally I’ve been trying to get lead changes with Maestro and getting to the point of frustration. He can do them with me on the flat, he can do them with trainer while jumping a course, but the combination of me and Maestro can not do them while jumping a course (at least indoors where we are riding currently, outdoors with more space TBD) with any regularity.

    1. I feel your frustration! Personally, I think that lead changes can just take time and the more you put pressure on them the worse it will become. I also can get them with ease on the flat most days, and my trainers don’t have nearly the amount of problems getting them jumping as do. I think it is 100% me and timing of aids. I can get them on a horse with solid changes all day long, but not on a horse like Rio who isn’t 100%. I am choosing to not focus on it, and just trust that they will come. A downward transition that is balanced will set us up better in the future for solid changes then trying to throw him into a sloppy disorganized change. Believe me, I wonder sometimes if we are doing the right then to not push it, but I trust my trainers so I am staying strong and not currently frustrated.

      1. Yes I also agree that most of the issue is me and my timing and use of aids. I believe Maestro is wanting different aids than what I’m giving (and what worked well when I taught Stampede) and we just aren’t on the same page. Can I bug you on some other platform than your blog and pick your brain a bit if you don’t mind?

  2. Emily (dressage trainer) used to make me flip the reins like that when Remus was being a butthead and pulling. It totally DOES make you rethink your whole riding so I see why she did it. I would be fighting him the normal way, flip it over and I could adjust and NOT FIGHT and get him up. So it is interesting your trainer had you do it for diff reasons!

    You guys look amazing and the green grass is gorgeous. Some pretty pretty jumps too 🙂

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