Work’s been busy and it’s been hot, and I’ve thus not been particularly motivated to ride much, or do more than hack around a bit. Cally was actually awesome to hack around on Wednesday, bopping around on the buckle like an old hunter. I wish she went like that all the time! That hack, though, was mostly to try out my newfangled fancy stirrup irons.
Ooooh, shiny and new!
I know, totally spaceage, right? I was skeptical about the whole composite stirrup trend, and gimmicky stirrups in general. I loathe the bendy ones I’ve ridden in, which felt like they provided zero support. Then I rode in Holly’s during my lesson last week, and realized that after a jumping lesson, my knees and ankles didn’t ache. Huh.
Then I went home and did some more research, and realized they weren’t insanely expensive, and even came in an Equitation-approved silver grey. So I decided to give them a try and clicked “order.” I was shocked at first how much noticeably lighter my saddle was to pick up with them on. Then I got on, and they didn’t take any adjusting at all, other than a bit of a feeling of stepping down into a gel insole or something. They have a little give to the foot, but not a flexion. Pretty comfortable, but I figured their real test would be my jump lesson on Friday.
Which naturally almost didn’t happen. Traffic was a nightmare, and I texted my trainer to let her know I might miss it, then just barely got there in time to tack up with very minimal (hoof pick and quick brush over) groom before heading to the ring. I was feeling a little frazzled and not quite mentally together yet, and I could tell it warming up. It was OK, nothing awful, but it felt like we weren’t either of us quite awake and together yet. Which led to it being a total hot mess when we started jumping by trotting a rollback to a bending line to an oxer that led to me nearly flying up her neck as she underpoweredly crawled over the tiny oxer. Kelley just stopped us and told me to actually start riding the horse, and get my horse put together and using her hind end. That was enough to wake me up and get Cally moving into a bit more contact and roundness, and our second time through felt much better, and less drunken stumble.
Since there was a nice jumper course set with our newly repainted fences (just in time for the Jumpalooza next weekend!), we did a lot of work on keeping balanced, straight, and responsive in turns, doing a lot of S turns and rollbacks. And once I’d gotten my act together, woke up, and actually started riding, she was nailing everything. The biggest problem we had was a vertical with a pretty tightish right turn to a plank, where Cally wanted to drift/cut right anyway, so it was hard to balance setting her up for the turn with keeping her from doing that, so I really had to think about going straight for a stride or two, then turning to it, rather than setting up the turn in the air like I was able to do with a few of the other fences.
The final trip through really felt like an Eq round, as she was soft and listening to my half-halts and nailing the spots to the fences, even the long bending 8 from wave planks to a big swedish oxer. I was really, really happy with how she felt, especially given that we hadn’t jumped anything since the Stirrup Cup Finals three weeks ago! This is also making me feel like we’re really making the right move going to a hunter/eq barn, because Cally seems to be happily settling into that groove, and I’m already pondering perhaps trying the Ariat Adult Medal at the next MSA show we got to in August. I know that if I sit up and ride, we can do it!