Due to respective schedules, I only manage a lesson every other week, and we’ve been concentrating on our dressage, so I’d been trying to figure out how to add in a few more jumping lessons to my training plan. Two weeks ago, I happened to be riding while Addie’s IEA coach was teaching her, and I really liked the way she taught, and thought that some hunter lessons would be good to help work towards that relaxed and effortless feeling we want while on course. So I spoke to Heather afterwards, and set up a lesson for today. Little did I realize then that neither man nor beast would have done anything for a week prior, so to say we were perhaps less prepared than ideal is an understatement.
Given the wonky weather (apparently the barn had a nice layer of ice in the morning, whereas we just had cold drizzle here), Cally was in all day, so we headed to the ring early to get a good bit of walking in and hopefully loosen her up a little before we started. It was also the first time I’ve really done more than hack around in the Waterford. She was a bit stiff behind on the left, which gets stocked up rather easily after the weird abscess issue with it last summer.
The lesson was really more of a feeling out of rider, horse, and instructor. Cally was definitely not as supple on the flat as I know she can be, and due to its nature the Waterford isn’t really something we can get on the bit on, but Heather had us working on essentially what Kelley has had us working on the other week, asking for flexion on a circle, getting her bending and moving from behind. This is very good for us, and also not something Cally is particularly thrilled with, because it actually makes her work. I was told something I’ve been told before–I need to not worry about being “nice” and tell Cally she needs to work properly. I’ve apparently been trained rather well by her 😉
Then we popped over a few fences. There was a remarkable level of enthusiasm after the fences, despite starting with a little crossrail. So we worked on a good “simple but not easy” exercise of jumping the fence, then halting in a straight line on a soft rein, standing still until Cally took a nice deep breath. We actually had a lot less rushing to the fence–with the Waterford, I actually felt like I had a lot more half-halt than I’ve ever had before, which seemed to surprise Cally. At one point, as we cantered to a small vertical for the first time, she tried to pull through it and couldn’t, and threw a fit, hopping and threatening to buck right past the fence. We came around and I just stayed still, and we had a much nicer approach, with a bit of go but much less than in the past. I think the Waterford will actually work quite nicely for jumping, as its soft enough to be inoffensive to her, but seems to have just the feel we need going to a fence.
After we finished, one of the other riders who’d been in the ring came by as I was untacking and commented one how well I’d handled Cally’s shenanigans. That was a pleasant surprise, as I always worry about freaking other people out when she acts up and we have to work through it. But I liked that we were able to work through it, and worked on getting her to settle and take a breath.
We’ve got another lesson on Friday afternoon, so hopefully I can get her back to work this week and get her a little more supple and better on the flat again before then, because we’ll then be in a much better place to start from.