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