Lately, I’ve gotten the opportunity to do a good bit of lessoning on my favorite lesson horse, Spidey. Spidey is more of a jumper type then a hunter, but he can still lay down a solid, flowing trip when the mood strikes him. I feel like I am learning a lot on Spidey. For starters, his way of going is much different from Rio’s. Formally an eventer, Spidey can get pretty spicy. He doesn’t love a ton of contact, and if he locks onto a fence and starts to go for it, he really doesn’t take to well to a pulling, rigid arm.
Everything I focus on when it comes to Spidey centers around softness. I work a lot on softening my angles, particularly my knee and hip, where I tended to get rigid and hold tension. I get to the point where I FEEL like I’m flopping around up there in order to be fluid and soft enough. I also have to focus on pushing my hands into his mane on the landing, and think about pushing his neck down on the backside. If you sit up too quickly, or take a feel too soon after the jump, he won’t follow through over the fence, and will land hollow and tense. This long approach to a single fence may look crazy boring, but let me tell you- a lot of effort went into this casual approach with almost a lazy appearing deep-ish spot! We would both much rather turn up the RPMS and find a longer spot but ya know… can’t always get what we want.
When I feel him wanting to change pace and quicken a few strides out on a long approach I have to force-ably make myself give him more rein, open my hip angle, and get so “soggy” that it almost feels like I’m about to walk. All I wanted to do was pull on the reins (shocker), but as it turns out this soft and soggy approach thing actually works.
This line was actually supposed to be done in 6, but I couldn’t find that distance while still staying soft and not pulling to the base, so we ended up with 5.
This was a fun little bending 3 that we did both directions. It was particularly hard for me to to not twist with my upper body and stay soft in my hip angle.
The bending 3 the other direction to to a small single:
A trot jump to a roll back and then a long canter to a single:
It may may look like Spidey is the quietest & calmest horse on the planet, but I swear it’s not always this good. I felt like the freaking horse whisperer up there all lazy and chill. I definitely feel like this new chill me that I’ve been honing in my lessons lately will really transfer over to other horses as well. I take a feel occasionally and work on him a bit, but I have to do it in the corner ad no where near an approach to a jump. This is really good in that it forces me to get the work done in the corners and not be trying to change things a few strides out, which let’s be real- never works.
Of course, I wish so much that I could try it out on Rio, but we are still in the land of walking only. As much as I want to “test” how he is feeling, I keep reminding myself there is literally NO RUSH and that most rehabs fail due to doing too much too soon. Le sigh.