Thursday, September 4, 2014

freely forward

My lesson with Lad in Rochester really got me thinking. 

He is a solid lesson horse who knows how to get himself to the right spot for a jump regardless of what his rider may (or may not) be doing. 

Isabel is not green, per se, but jumping at this level is new to her. She is relying on me to make the decisions and I'm more than happy to oblige by micro-managing. 

'shhhh - your riding is too noisy!!' -isabel

The problem is that I'm an unreliable decision maker- particularly when I'm nervous. I pick pick pick to the fence and hold on to the point of adding extra strides. This is no good, and I definitely don't want it to become Isabel's standard way of going just because I'm a wuss. 

video exhibit a - there is one too many strides in that approach

So: how do I ride so that Isabel is able to move up to the fences and start making decisions on her own? I think gymnastics and grids will help - and they're already on the agenda for September

But beyond specific exercises, though, I really just need to *make* myself let go. Isabel can take control. And she can make some mistakes, too, if that's what it takes. But she's a smart girl and really truly will do it, if I would just let her..

This video is not perfect by any measure, but I'm still thrilled with it. This was my third attempt at the barrels and the first two, while good enough and clean, were a little too 'backwards' - slowing down too much as we neared the fence. 

video exhibit b - even rhythm in approach

I like this so much bc I actually *allowed* Isabel to move up to the fence and jump it right out of her canter stride. THIS is the kind of jump we want for xc. 

screenshot for all y'all non-video folks

Notice also that her jump was almost effortless- she needed less energy to launch herself bc she already had the impulsion and momentum. So, in turn, I'm able to stay with her motion more easily and not get jumped out of the tack. 

(Side Note: Since I tend to waver between extremes, I also need to remember the flip side to "freely forward": I can't just run Isabel at the fence. We can't get strung out and on the forehand, bc then she can't rock back or make it over the jump without huge effort.) 

So I'm going to try to replay this jump over and over in my mind in the hopes that I can memorize what it felt like. This is what I'm shooting for: freely forward. 


  1. What a lovely jump over those barrels! It's great hearing your plan on the approach and seeing the results!

    1. Thanks! This has been an ongoing issue for me... But I think the ride on Lad helped me figure it out a bit

  2. I have the same issues. I swear whenever I jump I can hear my trainers voice in my head saying 'let go! Let go!'

    1. idk what the problem is, bc I didn't used to ride this way haha. But I think it's a pervasive habit among adult ammies

  3. Great visual to hold on to! Keep it up!

  4. Heh I have these exact issues. Either I want to pull to the base or gallop at it and leave it out. It's taken a lot (A LOT) of time to implement it but the rhythm makes all the difference. My trainer is forever yelling at me to just find the perfect medium rhythm then adjust either way without making it a big deal. Hard to do. A concept I understood for a long while but just could not put into practice. No way I can currently do it without some serious eyes on the ground, but it's improving slowly. Oh well, that's riding - a work in progress, no?

    She looks fantastic over the barrels, well ridden!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling w this! Like you say, conceptually it's not hard. But in practice? That's a whole different story lol. We just keep practicing tho!!