Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fancy Jumping Lesson Recap

That crossrail is bigger than you'd think
Yesterday we got our first ever jump lesson with our fancy eventing trainer. It was a serious information overload and I suspect that at the end of it, Redheadlins probably wanted to throw a bell boot at me. Clearly that would have been wildly unprovoked and not reflective of me doing the same to her on Sunday.

We started the lesson standing still, with my trainer asking me to drop his head. Courage and I bickered about it, but weren't making a lot of substantial progress. She pointed out two things: 1) this horse had been pulled on a lot (racing, der) and 2) his average is "good enough" that he's getting away with sort of toeing the line without actually doing what he's capable of.

"Right now, his trot is a 5," she said. "He is way too cute a horse to be a 5."

We started out with some concentrated flatwork. She told us that my homework was to do 20 transitions within the gaits EACH DIRECTION, EVERY RIDE. Basically, I need to pick a lot of little fights with him so he starts learning to accept me as the leader, which will make big fights (um, gate of doom, anyone?) less of a big deal. In addition, the transitions will get him more adjustable and accepting of the contact, which are things we don't really do.

I was pleased when I correctly said that he was moving his legs forward while holding his tension in his neck. I was also pleased when we were able to start alleviating that tension by trotting forward and really pushing him into a steady contact. I was even more pleased that C-rage is now at a mental place where he can handle the pressure and doesn't lose it.

Canter circle!
We then added in some poles and crossrails on the logic that flatwork is more interesting if there are jumps involved. For me, it was very much the same ride--leg to hand, stay consistent. The challenge is to hold my position and keep telling him what I want, vs constantly reacting to him and letting him set the tone of the conversation.

We did a couple of different exercises to get him engaged in the corner. We started with a leg yield to the right, but I don't have him responsive enough to my leg yet, so those tended to just cause some sort of unstoppable powerskid to the outside and we even stopped at a couple of crossrails because he was so crooked.

What worked really well for us was to do a small canter circle where I rode him really, really forward while keeping my hands equal distance from his neck (balance and consistency, eh?), then brought him to trot just as we headed to the jump. The circle brought his balance back and up, which then allowed me to relax and breath towards the jump.

Courage, of course, wanted to impress our trainer with his very best deer leaps, so I won't say it was the best jumping he ever did. That said, it was also the most pressure I've ever put on him while jumping and while he wanted to freak out and flail a few times, he kept it together and didn't. I call that a win.

Not my best position, but look who's cute!
At the end of the lesson, we discussed my position a bit--for the next two weeks (until our next lesson), she wants me to lengthen my stirrups and make me default position be down on him instead of two point. I'm quite strong (yay!) at two point, but then I sort of abdicate responsibility for direction and the point is for him to do what I'm asking.

All in all, a very excellent lesson. I have TONS to work on and the work we did in the lesson was some of the best we've ever done. He's taking a break after three hard days and I'm super excited to get back in the tack and start practicing.


  1. Courage is the most effortless deer leap-er ever :)

  2. He's just wanting to be extra sure he gets over that cross rail :) You can really see the wheels turning in his head!!

  3. Aw Courage is the sweetest baby jumping horse! He tries so hard!

  4. Don't want to say it, but all my jumping teachers always said the flatwork is what matters. The jump is just an afterthought. What you really need to do is get the horse to the jump in the right way--balance, frame, impulsion, etc.--and the jump itself is no biggie. And that even includes big jumps.

    We'd do flat exercises "forever" before taking the first jump and then, only when the horse was truly on the aids would we go over. Sounds to me as if you have a super trainer to work with.

    Courage looks really cute over the fences, even when he's imitating a deer. *G*

  5. Trainer sounds like she has a good plan. I would want to just trot him over poles forever until they are no big deal.

  6. Love having a great lesson! You guys are doing so well :)

  7. Poor guy wants to jump big SO BAD but it looks like until he slows his little brain down and stops TBing it he'll be trotting cross rails for a while haha. But towards the end it looked like he was slowing down his brain and thinking about where his legs were and looked really great!! Lots of potential :)

    And I hated when it was time to start doing tons of transitions with Wiz... they were not great and I did as few as possible but knew it was time to start doing as many as possible... and the first few months of it was torture haha. But it does help them tremendously ;)

    Thanks for sharing loved the video and pic! Keep up the good work :)

  8. That trot at 1:40 is BEAUTIFUL

  9. Love those kinds of lessons - the ones that keep on giving because of homework and goals! Loved the video - reminds me so much of early jumping with Hemie (ahem, wiggling!). And yeah, poles and little crossrails are so good for flat lessons!!

  10. Holy over jump! I wish Houston could show some enthusiasm over jumps under 3'. But he just says ehh I'll step over that bad boy. Just I should be happy about that. Trot poles are the best. Good flat works leads to good jumping from my experience.

  11. That is some jump!! haha He looks happy

  12. Lucky Courage was there to save you from the monster under the crossrail. He's so cute! What a good boy who works so hard for you :)

  13. Good grief, he really must be a distant deer relative. He is very floaty and has plenty of spring, now its getting them applied properly lol. He's going to be such a fancy hunter pony soon/

  14. He has such a good jump, you must be so happy with him.

  15. He's so cute!! That is a LOT of information! Good thing you have the video so you can review it later hehe.


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