Luckily yesterday the rain held off and we were able to take a jumping lesson with Doug. After such a shitty Monday, I must say Tuesday turned out pretty alright. I got to see a couple horsey friends I haven’t seen in a while, and had a really good lesson to boot.
One of my main takeaways was: Stop babying the darn horse. He’s a big boy, and he’s got to be pushed out of his (our) comfort zone a bit to grow, as well as know that there are consequences when he doesn’t do something he knows how to do correctly.
To elaborate, though…
After warming up in a surprisingly round trot (Foster is harder to get on the bit in the Waterford in general), we worked on collecting and lengthening within the gaits. At the trot, Doug told me I was focusing too much on the smoothness of the transition, and easing into it when really the exercise was about getting him sharp to my aids- when I say move, he should move! Same thing going from lengthened canter to collected- I should get a clear transition, and insist to Foster that this is possible.
At the canter, Doug threw two poles down on the long side, and we focused on putting more or less strides in between them. After I learned how to count (a very Duh! moment on my part), 5 strides felt like a forward canter, and then we worked on putting 6 in with pretty good success. We then attempted to put 4 in- not so successful, but I got the idea. This is definitely something I need to work on regularly, and incorporate into every jump school, since not only does it help with Foster’s rideability, but also gets him in front of my leg before we jump.
The first jumping exercise we did was jumping on a small circle. My job was to keep him straight through the shoulders and hold the outside rein in particular so that he didn’t overbend in the neck and then fall out. We kept the jumps small since it was a technical exercise, and both Foster and I picked it up pretty quickly.
Next we moved on to a mini course, starting with a related distance that rode in 5 strides with a forward canter. Turn right after and collect him in order to make the turn to the small oxer, and keep the collected canter and do the related distance again in 6 strides. Definitely the hardest part about the exercise was landing on the left lead after coming over the oxer and keep him balanced and collected through the turn in order to get the 6 strides in. All of this to cement in the fact that you establish the canter you want well before going through any related distance (or to any jump), so as to not be scrambling in the middle. Definitely a good exercise in preparation and thinking for me, since I tend to lose sight of these things as I run around a jump course!
Trying again with the hard bit, and Foster throwing in a flying change like I planned to do it or something (I didn’t). Thanks buddy for making me look good.
And then putting everything back together, with another flying change just for fun?
We ended on that, and I was really pleased to find Foster more ‘rideable’ than I had thought. We’ve got a ton of homework to work on, and just for my own benefit, here is the list of exercises to incorporate into our next jump school:
- lengthened and collected trot
- lengthened and collected canter (strides between poles)
- angled fences
- related distances with varying strides
- rounder outline within the jumping canter
Phew! So so much to do. And then there’s the dressage lesson tonight! Busy, busy, busy!