Folks. My heart is so full right now.
One of the issues I isolated on Saturday boiled down my own lack of miles jumping. It had been 3 weeks since my last lesson and I haven’t been jumping at home since starting to ride with AB early in the summer. Which is fine for the level I’m at but it also poses the issue of fitness and muscle memory. After it taking a few fences to get my body sorted out, I decided that I needed to jump at least once a week meaning that on my non lesson weeks I need to be jumping at home.
With that in mind I searched online for an exercise I thought was doable, fun, and would also address the other big issue of him taking off after the jump. I knew I didn’t want single fences. I’m also not super comfortable at setting up combinations since I’m not quite sure what distances to set and I don’t want to punish him by setting up something wonky.
After a few minutes of scrolling I found exactly what I was looking for:
Yesterday evening was cold and windy. Eeyore had every right to be up but he wasn’t. In fact, he was a bit pokey and I joked with M (built in jump crew is pretty awesome) that I need to invest in a crop. Because of this I kept the warm up pretty short. I did a couple laps of trot and canter each direction and then got down to the exercise.
AB’s words of wisdom ran through my head as I came off a left bend to the first fence: sit up, make him wait, keep him balanced in the turn, once he looks at the jump get out of his way, go over.
And you know what? It took some core strength but he stayed waiting until the base and then we popped over no big deal.
He tried to take off after but again her words came into my head: sit back, leg on, keep my core engaged and bring him back to me instead of me leaning forward into him and be patient.
And you know what? It worked. He definitely thought about running off into the setting sun but I kept myself strong and my body patient and he came up in front and waited. We went over #2 like it wasn’t even there.
He landed in a nice canter but I have zero clue how to influence which lead he lands on and flying changes are not in my repertoire, so I brought him to a trot for the bend to fence 3, kept him balanced in that turn and patient to the base and over we went.
He knew the game by now and immediately locked onto fence #4 (previously fence #1), trying to take off in the process but I just repeated everything I had before and it worked like a charm to give me a lovely effort over the last fence.
I was so thrilled!!! We did it one more time but he was being so darn good I didn’t want to drill it. M hopped on for a quick walk and trot both directions and then Wyatt did a short lead line walk before he got to go out for the night.
This ride was so stinking fun! I loved the exercise because it really highlighted everything we need to work on: balance in the turns, patience to the base, a quick recovery on the backside and then refocus for the next effort. Eeyore finding his brain again really helped in the success of the ride but so did the fact that my own brain remained functional and I listened to my inner AB. It was really rewarding to feel him respond to me in the 5 strides between fences.
I can’t wait for my next lesson to show AB that I did learn from Saturday’s outing!