Friday, January 28, 2011

Building Confidence

It was super cold yesterday, so I layered up and trekked out to the barn. I was the only person there, which has one really obvious ramification: jumping day! I really wanted to do dressage, but at the same time, I don't want to drill Izzy and make her cranky. This was a nice compromise.

I set a series of four elevated trot poles and then three trot poles leading up to a 18" crossrail. I know, tiny and unimpressive, but bear in mind that our big problems are: 1) my confidence and 2) my position.

We started out by working on maintaining forward energy in all three gaits. We did some trot/halts, with me trying to keep my upper body up and leg on, so that Izzy would halt without collapsing on her forehand. Then, we did some (jumper) walk/canters. They certainly weren't dressage quality, but I need Izzy to understand that she is to go when I say go. We focused on stayed balanced and forward through the downward transitions just like we'll need to on course.

Then we moved on to the hard stuff: trot poles! Ha, I know. It's getting better, though. Izzy does best when I don't interfere with her, so I focused on quietly moving up to two point about a stride before the poles, maintaining my position over them, and then quietly coming back. It's a work in progress for sure. I have non-ideal riding conformation (long torso, shortish legs), so two point is challenging to do and remain balanced in.

Then we headed in to the crossrail. I'm not sure I've ever set something like that before, but Izzy the Wonderhorse wasn't the tiniest bit phased. She trotted right in and then hopped out. Really, I think next time we jump I'm going to set a 2'ish vertical--Izzy likes to jump and the constant crossrails are boring her.

We had our share of issues, which is to say, I did my best to screw things up and Izzy just kept going around. Love that mare! I tried to keep my leg on, ride my turn, come in straight, stay straight, push my hands forward over the jump (SO FREAKING HARD) and then stay on a straight line afterwards. We did a couple of halts after the jump to keep Izzy from just motorcycling around the corner.

The most exciting thing we accomplished was this: a rollback turn. Not in the western sense--that would have been too exciting--but turning left off the rail to the jump was less than a 10m circle. I kept the contact steady and my body up and wouldn't you know, Izzy did the same and there was no loss of balance. WIN!!

So... my last couple of posts have been straight training journal, which maybe isn't the most interesting thing in the world to read. I'll try to have something cooler next time I update. Not sure what.


  1. I think straight training journal can be exciting :) It sounds like Izzy is confident and happy about what you are doing with the poles and fences - that is NOT to be underestimated! You can avoid so many problems by just making sure that pony is happy and comfortable at every step of the training process.

    One thing my eventing trainer has us working on is thinking of releasing DOWN, not FORWARD. You come along with your hands just brushing the mane, and your release slides down the line of their shoulder blade. It's amazing how much doing that can keep you from leaning forward, which is no small feat when you're long-torsoed and short-legged (as I am, and it sounds like you are too ;)

    Try it sometime. She used it on both me and a girl who is just jumping crossrails, and for both of us it allowed for a more consistent ride, a better upper body position, and a happy horse.

  2. Very nice. The trot rails set you up perfectly for the jump so you can focus on position, etc. without worrying about timing.

    Just remember to close your body down over the fence instead of actually going forward. Maybe the idea of releasing down, not forward as suggested above would help that. I like the concept.


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