Ack..I sooo wish I had media because folks…this lesson was EPIC!
All day long I stressed about those stupid pipe jumps. At the end of my last lesson Trainer AB had set the stage for me to come prepared to conquer those stupid pipes. The plan was for her to hop him over them a few times until he stopped jumping the standards which should in theory make it a heck of a lot easier for me to then jump them. I’m not ready for a 4′ effort here.
When I pulled in I was ecstatic to see that the entire arena had be rearranged for the first time since I have been riding there. Instead of a hodgepodge of jumps piled in the center with two outside lines set up, with one being the two stride pipes, there was now a small course of about 6 jumps and…..no pipes to be seen.
HAHAHAHAHAAH!! YES! I was so excited I shot a text over to Nadia about it. No pipes. Phew.
Eeyore started the lesson with a fire cracker up his butt which I found odd since I had ridden him pretty good on Sunday. He kept all four on the floor though and I managed to wrestle him around and blow off some of his steam in a nice hand gallop around. After that he was able to settle into the work a bit better. It didn’t help matters that for some reason the arena was a veritable highway last night. Riders kept coming and going and that always ruffles him up. He hates not being able to ride right up their ass and then gets pissy when they leave and he is made to stay and work. Its good for us to work on though since warm ups are often hectic and confusing and anything that tests his commitment to listening to me is a good thing in my book.
I lamented to Trainer AB how hard I’ve been working at the “dressage stuff” but seem to only be able to get one of the three components at a time: bend, being round, or staying on the circle. Which meant that she immediately put me on the circle and put me to the test. We started going right and it was kind of a crap show. I’d get the bend then lose his roundness and the circle would get smaller then I’d fix the roundness and lose the bend and so on. It got better as we went though it never felt effortless or that cohesive, more like a million small corrections one after the other to try to keep us on track. She had me go around at the rising trot, sitting trot and then canter and surprisingly, to me anyway, we did the best at the canter. Then we switched to the left and it was like angels sang. Seriously, the difference was stark, but in a really good way. To the left I could get all three and keep it with only tiny little corrections maybe every 1/4 turn around the circle. We didn’t spend a lot of time going left because it just clicked in all gaits. I laughed and asked her if any dressage tests only include left hand circles. Nope.
So I have my homework there. I’m not sure if I’m that one sided or if we both just suck that bad going right that it compounds, but it is very much different. I want to spend some time going left to keep the feeling but I think I’ll need to focus on getting the right bend to match.
After that, she said she was going to go set the jumps while I let him walk on a long, loose rein to catch his breath. I looked around the arena and saw mostly verticals, a large coop, and a barrel jump and wondered what she was setting up as they all looked to be a great, mini jump height to me. She walked around and jacked all the jumps up (odd to see since in the past all my lessons included lowering jumps) and then I watched her with a pit growing in my stomach as she set up a new pipe jump. Womp womp. It was slightly different though. The pipe was made into a skinny between two solid walls.
First up on the docket was a small gymnastic line of a cross rail to a vertical. She said that it was set up to be a canter 2 stride line, but she wanted me to trot into it and then get 3 strides before hopping out. Well…that didn’t go so hot. Just as I got started, a new person entered the arena and began riding. No big deal. She stayed out of the way at the far end of the arena. Except that was right where we were jumping into and Eeyore had nothing but eyes for this horse. We got the in and out but kept doing it in 2 strides. Trainer AB said it was fine. With his distraction and how hot to jumo he was, getting the set for 2 strides was ok and she didn’t want to punish him for saying yes by continually asking the same thing.
Besides, she wanted to get started on course work in preparation for our showing debut this fall and Eeyore was dripping sweat and blowing hard at this point.
The course was going to be three jumps: #1 was the pipe, left hand turn around the barrels to #2 a vertical away from the barn then a right hand turn to #3 a vertical back towards the barn. I had two goals: trot into each jump and make my turn big and sweeping. Why these? Well, I mentioned to Trainer AB in my attempt to stall as long as possible before tackling that stupid pipe, that I had stopped jumping at home on my own because I tend to stuff him around corners as my eye doesn’t flow well around the course and that he likes to get really strong in front of a fence and I am not sure if I should wrestle with him once he is presented or just let him go. I don’t want to punish hi in front of a fence, but I also don’t like the feeling of getting run away with towards it either.
In true Trainer AB form, she took my words to heart and made it into the lesson. I love this woman.
So off I went. I looked at that stupid pipe sandwiched between the walls and I don’t know…I trusted the big Orange Butthead who was so keen to get jumping and well…I just did it. We flew over it in a much more normal way than prior and then cantered away like no big deal. I heard a big whoop of joy from Trainer AB and the crowd watching from the bleachers and gave him all the pats. Which uh..then saw me blow past my turn a bit and I ended up doing what I always do…stuff him around and at the next jump. I did manage to wrestle him back to a trot before going over it and we made it over just fine but yeah…not what she had envisioned. Going to #3, it took a lot to wrestle him to a trot and then to a trot that wasn’t basically a canter in disguise, but I did and we had the best jump of the three.
I walked back over to Trainer AB with a huge grin on my face and the comment “wow…I didn’t die!” She was pleased that we a) made it over no fuss b) I remembered my course and c) I did get him to trot before each one. But….
She called me out for bad jumping form. When I get nervous I tend to hunch my shoulders and round my back. She had told me to grab mane in case he over jumped like in the past and I was so focused on doing that, that I sorta let my posture go to the birds. So…eventhough I managed to do the course I had to do it again and this time do it right. She is a stickler for the details.
We went again and this time the mini course was AMAZING. It felt like flying as we soared over the pipe, I managed to get him to a trot before the barrels, made the turn, flew over the vertical, wrestled longer than I wanted down the long side headed to the turn for 3 but did get a trot eventually and then ended out of 3 no issue.
My face hurt from my grin and I am pretty sure I was giggling like an 8 year old. It just felt so damn good to do that mini course. I’ve not strung fences together on him before and was unsure how it would go. Then add to that the fact that I finally slayed my pipe dragon and well…it was a pretty awesome feeling. Trainer AB expressed her pride at how the hard work is showing through and how, while Eeyore is still head strong and a bit of a bully, I’m not letting it get to me the way it used to.
I drove home on cloud 9 feeling invincible yet again and already impatiently waiting for the next 2 weeks to go by. Its fine though. I’m out of town next week to visit inlaws up north and then school starts and my Sweden exchange student arrives the next weekend, so we will be plenty busy. EEEEEK though!! This eventing thing may actually really happen after all and it is all thanks to a Big Orange Butthead and a wonderful Trainer AB.