Monday, November 1, 2010

The Best and Worst

First off, a picture of the barn dog "helping" feed on a windy day. He didn't want to get off the 4 wheeler.

Izzy and I had another jumping lesson on Saturday. Irie's mom was unable to attend, so the only picture I have is of Izzy waiting patiently at the trailer, even though I forgot to bring a haynet for her. <3 data-blogger-escaped-br="" data-blogger-escaped-her="">

The lesson was great! Izzy warmed up really well. We focused on 'fingertip control' at first, in which I try to get a maximum response to minimal aids. Next, we worked on focusing on where we wanted to go in order to get our horses to move with purpose. An example would be instead of just asking for a trot transition, focus on a place you want to get to and then ask. This gives you a goal and allows your horse to obey promptly.

We also did an exercise in which we lightened one leg at a time in the stirrups, allowing our whole leg to contact the side of the horse instead of just putting our weight in our stirrups. This will be important later.

The first exercise we worked on was just cantering over poles set at a 90 degree angle to one another. It was a long three, a comfortable four, or a short five, and we got to do all three variations. Next, Stephanie set the poles up to 2' verticals and had us canter over those both directions, focusing on getting four comfortable strides, jumping perpendicular to the fence, and staying balanced. It was harder than I thought.

Finally, we incorporated a third element: a 2'3" square oxer (which sounds tiny to those of you who actually jump, but it's good-sized for Izzy and I right now). The pattern was now this: canter in to a 2' vertical, turn left and 90 degrees in 4 strides, jump another 2' vertical, turn right and 90 degrees in five strides, jump a 2'3" oxer.

Whoa. That was hard.

I went first and really struggled with it because I have some major position flaws that this exercise highlights. First off, I tend to move around too much in front of the fence, which makes Izzy shorten because she's confused. Then, my in-air form is bad, so I take back on the reins and totally lose my legs, which makes leg yielding through the turn virtually impossible. We manage to get over the second fence, but not the third.

Finally (probably 3 or 4 tries later), I seem to get it. I shorten up my reins, and grab Izzy's mane about a third of the way up her neck. This forces my hands to stay forward, which keeps me in better balance and allow me to use my leg. We make the second jump on a fairly severe angle (yay Izzy! Already compensating for my dumbness!) We barely made the turn to the third jump (oxer), and I showed it to Izzy too late. BRAKES!

The good news is, I wasn't ahead of her and my position barely even bobbled when she stopped. It was just poor riding by me and greeness by her, so Stephanie had us canter around and do that jump alone. Izzy was brilliant.

Then, we put all three together. We developed a rhythmic canter to the first jump. I put my hands in her mane and kept my leg on. We did a nifty leg yield through the sharp left corner and caught the second jump square in the middle. I didn't worry about her lead and made the right hand turn quickly enough to allow her to see the jump before we were right on top of it. I kept my leg on and my hands still and we positively FLEW over the oxer!!

And then...

Yep, stirrup leather totally busted about a stride after the fence. If only I'd paid more attention to the lesson earlier about distributed my weight through my leg instead of just my stirrup. I went flying (dumping? It wasn't graceful) off Izzy's left side, and my lesson buddy assures me that she let out a mighty buck once I was off.

It was pretty hilarious. I mean, I was done. We nailed the exercise, so there was no reason to do it again. I just sat in the sand for a moment, hurting and processing. Then I got up, pulled the other stirrup off the saddle, and rode Izzy around to cool out while my lesson buddy finished up.

Several thoughts:
1) I have not fallen off Izzy in well over a year, so I was more than due.
2) I cannot imagine a better way to come off--neither of us has any confidence issues due to it.
3) Since I am a consummate tack-whore, it is kind of embarrassing to fall off due to tack failure.
4) That said, due to the aforementioned tack-whoring issue, I actually have a new pair of leathers (nylon-lined) at home. The only reason I wasn't using them was because they didn't fit my current irons and I was suppressing my tack-whoring impulse to go buy new irons. Lesson learned: never repress a tack whore.
5) I consciously decided not to give my tack a once-over the night before the lesson because I thought I was too busy. Ha. Pony club was right. Check your leathers.

This jumping thing is addicting.


  1. Well good for you and Izzy, there were lots of positives in this post! :)
    Falling is just part of it, albeit a sucky part. ;)

  2. Sounds like a really good lesson. You're right, that jump height is perfect for you and Izzy right now, since the things you are working on apply at any height and she needs to keep her confidence up. Bummer about the stirrup leather - I've seen that happen too many times so now I always use the nylon lined ones. Much less prone to breakage. Glad you "learned your lesson" about not suppressing your tack whore habits! :)

  3. Glad you are OK. It might have been funny, but falling off is falling off....

    Good work in analyzing your riding flaws. That's half the battle in solving them. Now you know exactly what you need to work on when you are schooling at home.

  4. It's never an easy task for some of us to account for our shortcomings. Without admitting to them and acknowledging them- we can't fix them and move on. Great post!

    I tend to amass stuff to the point of not knowing where it came from- it's just there. In ample supplies and quantities. Never supress your hoarding of some things.

    Always a good idea to check your tack before a lesson. Especially the important stuff. Glad nobody was hurt and you still remember how it is to hit the dirt now and then. My day is coming and none of us are immune!


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