Friday, March 4, 2016

child's play

So Brita and I don't get to ride together very often, outside of lessons and shows. Her work day ends earlier than mine, so she's already ridden and long gone before I even show up (meaning she also gets to ride in daylight pretty much year round and can therefore seek out the good ground even in nasty winter... #jealous!).

But this week, the stars aligned and we managed to plan a ride together! Exciting for a few reasons: First, our big lighted outdoor is finally back in shape, with freshly harrowed new footing!

"do WAT now?!?" - isabel
Secondly (and arguably more interestingly), we decided that since this week's OF jump lesson is cancelled, we would do a little jump school of our own. Not just jumping any jumps, tho. Jumping some stuff. Some WEIRD stuff. lol

it's a course with character lol
We pretty much pulled out every funky potential filler we could find - including the white barrels, some lawn chairs, and naturally this bizarre children's toy table thingy and it's matching tiny stools (visible as the ground line in the upper right hand corner above).

Nothing particularly massive - the biggest jump on course was probably 2'9" - but LOTS to look at. And increased technicality for the smaller stuff (a 30' two stride line of skinnies from the crazy table thing to the barrels).

apparently not spooky enough to garner a nicer effort lol
And ya know what? The horses were GREAT! Well... Isabel was actually pretty fucking hot to the touch - that glorious perfect canter I gushed about yesterday was nowhere to be seen, as I apparently jinxed myself haha. Instead we were in more of the 'race as fast as possible while ducking behind the contact and behind my leg' frame of mind.

sideways barrels are officially boring
It was fine tho. Temps had dropped something like 15-20 degrees from the day prior, and it was dark and windy. Plus the horse was actually still really very good. I tried to go through that whole process a la Dan of pushing her into the bridle at walk such that she's soft to my hands and collected before we transition to trot. Then repeat at trot before transitioning to canter. Then, boom, commence nice canter.

so much blur, so few cares
It, uh, only kinda worked. She never really softened to my hands or pushed into the bridle - and instead preferred to try and match my requirements for 'slow' with a short retracted neck and false frame while actually not filling up the contact at all.

zomg gallop go FAST
This is tricky for me bc it's so much harder to both get a sense of our pace and see our distances... Plus, when she's that false in the contact, she doesn't land in the same canter she jumps from - she can easily land zooming and careening out of balance bc the only thing keeping her together before the jump was my holding, and that all goes out the window when I release over the fence. So then I end up holding more and more, and we get fugly jumps...

lawn chairs are apparently nbd too
But again, it was honestly really fine. I need to learn how to ride her when she's in this kind of mental space and I think we actually made pretty good work of it.

I just tried to remind myself not to have a backward feel with my hands, to stay upright (and not ahead of the horse) with my upper body, and use my seat and entire leg, hip to heels, to push her up and forward. The basics, folks, sometimes they help!

these little stools gave us some grief tho
Plus the course we set actually ended up riding REALLY well! Like, one of those courses where you could land from any given jump and have at least one, but usually a few options for where to go next.

It was pretty simple, too - just seven jumps: a single on each diagonal and on the center line (parallel with the long sides), a 60' line down one outside line, and a 30' line near the other outside line on a shallow diagonal.

cute despite the blur 
Everything rode well too - the lawn chair single rode super for us every time, as did the 2 stride. I struggled a little in the bending from the in of the outside line to the skinny stools on the diagonal - wanting to fit 6 strides in something around ~65' .... but when I allowed for the 5 strides all was well again.

wheeee!!!
The very upright verticals - cone jump on the center line (above) and skinny stools on the diagonal (left side of frame in above pic) - rode a little trickier, esp compared to the wider jumps with broader bases.

But, generally speaking, neither horse looked at a single thing on course and just jumped around like it couldn't possibly be any easier. Yay ponies!!


I set up my helmet camera on the fence line to try to catch the ride, and was actually quite pleased with how well it turned out despite the darkness. Plus the fish eye lens combined with our fairly centralized course design meant that every single fence is in the frame.

We took cell phone videos of each other's final courses tho, in case the helmet camera didn't turn out. I particularly like this second course too bc you can kinda get a sense for how I tried to establish our nice trot first, then nice tiny canter - with marginal success lol. Plus you can see Isabel was landing in a different canter than we jumped from - tho her super forward pace led to auto changes in both directions, score!


All in all a super fun ride and solid schooling - yay for jumping weird shit and the horses not even blinking! Now we're all trying to figure out what we should try next haha. (Or maybe it's time to start thinking about our first xc outing of the year?!?)

22 comments:

  1. XC outing!!! Also out of curiosity what happens if you put Iz on a small circle and really push her into your outside rein like where it gets really ugly but that might break up the faking. Or doing forwards and back in the canter? No idea if either of those would actually help or not but I'm curious how she would react.

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    1. lolz i promise i did actually try!

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    2. I was actually asking more for another redhead that likes to be fast but behind the leg... :)

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    3. lol yea small circles are definitely our friend, tho they're not a panacea bc isabel can motorcycle around the smallest of diameters and it can easily devolve into a fight...

      generally i try to follow the lessons dan has taught me - looking back to see if any that really outline his flat work approach, you can maybe check out "evidence that the canter does actually exist" from july 2015 or "catching up (again)" and "gallop!! (yes, on purpose)" from june 2015. but really most posts about his lessons (tagged "danc" in the cloud below) mention at least briefly how we go about trying to work through it

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  2. That looks like it was SO FUN! Wheeee!

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  3. You guys are so brave... and photogenic. I love that first picture haha.

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    1. lolz and that first pic was from AFTER the ride - never quite managed to take the edge off haha

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  4. I LOVE THIS and really want to try this weekend!!! way to go!

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    1. yassssss totally do it!!! somehow i suspect Tillie won't even notice the funky weird junk as she cruises around!

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  5. I giggled out loud at "Course with character." You guys are awesome!

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    1. ha thanks - we like to have a little fun ;)

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  6. I'm trying to envision the announcer for this course... "... and she makes a tight left to the lawn chairs, followed by a rollback to the kiddie table... nice, nice.." heehee!

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    1. hahaha my life goals are to come up with courses (and or horse names) that are maximally ridiculous for the announcers in my head ;P

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  7. I used to do this too. If it was semi-jumpable, it would get jumped. Tack trunk, stacks of traffic cones, lawn chairs... fair game.

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    1. ha it definitely keeps it interesting!! i haven't done an honest-to-god jump school on my own outside of a lesson in... ages and ages, actually, so we pretty much only ever do what the trainer sets up... but when the trainer's away, errrrythang gets jumped!!

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  8. Fun! My friend and I use to do that with a bunch of kid's rocking horse toys that her neighbor put out for the trash, wicker lawn furniture, and barrels.

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  9. Looks like fun! We're still in mud here but Bird got metal feet this week so that he can do roadwork, so there's that. And... I am going to look at a tow vehicle (used) tomorrow, one that ticks every box on my shopping list. Fingers crossed!

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