We hadn’t had a jumping lesson in a while–since right before we did WBTA, actually, because after that we worked on sidesaddle and then last week was rained out. So we were well overdue for some jumping, and some prep for the MidAtlantic Equitation Festival, which is now a week away! Sort of, anyway–schooling is open on Thursday, so we’re planning on hauling down, hacking in the ring, maybe doing an unjudged jump round just to get a feel of how lines and things ride, since while we’ve shown at the PGEC before, we haven’t been in the big indoor coliseum, which is where MAEF runs all their classes. But that just means that it was the day for some tough prep, and difficult courses.
We started off doing Cally’s least favorite thing, which is a counter-bending (sitting) trot, which actually gets her using herself properly, so it’s difficult. She’d rather bop around all willy-nilly, strung out and on the forehand and bent however. But we worked on bend, and after about half a dozen circles and changes of direction, voila, super soft round rideable horse. At that point, Holly had us do a few transitions, asking for 15 or 20 strides of canter (which I had to count!), then quietly back to sitting trot. Of course, as I was doing this, Holly was setting fences, so by the time we changed directions and did it twice, Cally was starting to get revved up, because she knew she was jumping.
To change things up a little, we started off down in the big lower ring, warming up over a placing pole one stride to a tiny vertical. Which I managed to boff twice by staring at the fence and not the pole. Important lesson learned–focus on the first element that sets you up well, not on the last element that you may or may not get to well if you don’t execute other things properly first. When I actually looked for a distance to the placing pole, we went through twice perfectly!
Next challenge was to head up the little lane up the hill between the rings, and jump a small crossrail in to the main ring, come back around, and jump back over it coming down the hill into the big ring. Cally thought this was grand fun, and didn’t even bat an eye at jumping into and out of the ring. So Holly decided she was ready to go, and put the fence up to a real jump. Cally was more than up to the challenge!
Did I also mention that it was gorgeous yesterday? It felt like spring, and I think this may be the last lesson of 2015 that I get to ride in a polo shirt. It makes me a little sad, but also felt wonderful.
Since the jump in to the ring went fabulously, it was time to start putting together a little course! It felt like forever since we’d done one, and since we’re gearing up for MAEF, Holly didn’t make it easy. Jump in, long approach to the rolltop, tight turn out of the corner to an oxer, long gallop around to a one-stride, which I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever jumped outside of a lesson. I was supposed to then tightly roll back to the plank at the end of the ring, but because I hadn’t jumped in a while, the brain was not functioning at full capacity, and I forgot where we’re going. But other than that, it worked out great.
I was really worried about the one-stride, but I didn’t need to. Other than needing to keep leg on to it, she had no hesitation and was ready to tackle the oxer.
But sort of ignored the little stone wall. Holly reminded me to go back to what I did with the groundpole in front of the jump earlier, and look at the wall as we’re coming in, and keep my leg on. Then we had the in we needed, and I then managed to land and make the tight serpentine through the ring to the plank, and then the angled 3.
The only mistakes we had yesterday were my mistakes–not riding assertively enough to the right spot, not focusing where I need to in order to set her up well. But those are things that felt like they got much better throughout the lesson. I could’ve found better distances (Holly said we were going to do some long approaches since she wasn’t liking my eye today, and I replied that I didn’t like my eye most days) but nothing was particularly bad just not ideal. But that got better too, as I got more comfortable keeping leg on to the distance.
I think we’re in a good place to set us up for next week. We’ll have one more lesson, go school on Thursday, and on Friday we’ll do our first class, the Ariat Adult Medal, and get moved in for the weekend. I’m starting to get quite excited, but also quite nervous. It’s by far the biggest show we’ve done, and as I’ve mentioned before, I can go in the show ring and have my brain totally shut down. That seems less likely to happen, though, with a trainer at my side to make sure I go in the ring with a plan that I can articulate, and repeat, and hopefully will stick to when I head on course. We’ve got a few more grooming things to take care of, like clipping her hind socks and muzzle, and pulling her mane, all of which will get taken care of this weekend. It’s supposed to be gorgeous and warm again tomorrow, so she’s going to get a deep cleaning bath, so hopefully she won’t get too dirty again before the show.