Tuesday, May 2, 2017

schoolin' hunter-style

So I'd like to write about the jump lesson Charlie and I had at OF this past weekend, but I still haven't had a chance to edit or even watch the videos yet. Sorry.

And idk about you, but I can sometimes feel like my opinion and impression of a ride are somewhat unformed or half baked without actually watching the video too. Like I have to "review the tape" to study and fully understand what all went down.

his dopey face tho lol
All that to say - I'm still not quite ready to write it out yet. It wasn't particularly ground-breaking, but it was educational. And I think I'm finally starting to fully understand why.

idk about you, but i LOVE these painted boxes - plaster flaking off a brick wall. too cute!
Like we all already know Charlie's very green. And.... the laws or logic should say that he's less green now than when I first started jumping him, right? So why should his greenness now somehow shock or surprise me?

And I'm figuring out that it's just a normal function of his constant evolution. The fact is: Charlie can officially been deemed "Fully Started Over Fences" now. Like. He knows how to jump. He has gotten a sense for his own striding, his own eye. He can find a jump himself, but can also go long or deep. Certainly he's not anywhere close to "finished" (LOL) but the foundation is laid.

more brick!! with the quintessential hunter green standards
And? He honestly really seems to like it! He's pretty enthusiastic about it, and as a thinking horse, he's often open to experimentation. Or open to feeling like maybe he's got this whole thing figured out, maybe he's a pro (which, like, he totally isn't tho haha).

But now that Charlie's in a much more "forward thinking" place, I'm suddenly playing catch up with him. He's ready to be challenged, ready to to approach some fences that give him something to look at... and I'm maybe still mentally back in January where we just kinda bopped around everything and it was a big commotion if Charlie figured out how to actually canter a fence lol.

those are just splatters on this box haha. plainest of plain white fences
Furthermore, Charlie is developing fast. He's progressing in REAL TIME OMG. So like.. We might start off with a couple bad fences or some sort of problem, and I resign myself to thinking "Ok this is my horse today." But then Charlie's got it sorted and figured out by the next effort and I'm still kinda stuck trying to ride that same problem even after it's passed and Charlie has moved on.

more pretty stone walls tho!
So I ended up feeling like, "Christ when am I actually gonna figure out how to ride this horse?" But that's not quite fair, bc he's legitimately not only a different horse every week, but often a different horse throughout the course of a single ride.

That's a very good thing in the grand scheme of things - he's a good honest horse who is showing a taste and keenness for jumping. Not to mention an excellent sense of humor with a heaping dose of ammy-friendly forgiveness. No doubt about it, I'm grateful.

standards would be way cuter with requisite hanging ferns. also see the cute stone wall (with wind blown standards) in the background?
But it still challenges me, especially as I'm definitely someone who thrives when she knows exactly what to expect. And Charlie at this point in his training still kinda defies expectations. He's just a changeable guy in his way of going right now.

Our lesson this past weekend ended well, but it started rough. Again, I'll share the full details when I have the accompanying media.... Suffice it to say, tho, that it didn't really feel like a satisfactory last jumps school before our next show, even if that show is just over 18" fences.

more "flaking plaster" boxes! obvi this is actually a line, but i jumped them separately
So I decided that I would capitalize on the empty arena last night (no lessons on Mondays!) to school myself over fences. And it took everything I had to pull my big girl pants on and get it done, bc honestly I really haven't schooled myself over fences with any regularity in a long time. (Izzy and I usually had two jump lessons a week and that was plenty sufficient for keeping us tuned up.)

Plus all the jumps where set at a perfectly inviting ~2' height, but with fun configurations of boxes and gates and poles galore. I'd be a fool to ride around an open arena full of these fences and not jump any of them, right?

another line, and another i jumped separately. i like that they have all different size gates too. also would have jumped that full brick wall on the left but the standards and ground line pole were blown too much into the track, alas.
Therefore we just jumped right on around after an economical warm up. Trotted the first, and cantered the rest. Charlie asked to build in pace to our first canter fence, but held when I asked. Good boy.

We approached fences from loops across the center. From short (but easy) roll back turns. And also from longer straight approaches. And I tried to ride like someone's actually taught me lol. Legs down under me, short reins with hands forward, light seat (but not half seat, plz Emma) but actually sitting and with shoulders open and further back than I want them.

And for the first time in my riding life with Charlie? Not only did we not actually totally miss once, but I was able to see each fence from a more or less good going distance at about 4 strides out. It helped that the horse was very steady and rideable haha. Perhaps he was channeling his inner hunter? Oh and he even popped quite a few changes over fences AND ground poles!

One day, folks. One day we'll get there (wherever "there" is haha). Even if it means that occasionally I need to buck up and make myself jump the damn jumps. Do you jump often outside of lessons? Or only on an as-needed basis? Or maybe your ratio of lessons to self-schools is the exact opposite, with most of your jumping done solo with just the occasional lesson? Do you ever feel like there's a big difference, whether it's in how you go or what you tackle?

40 comments:

  1. I do not jump inside or outside of lessons but I have learned that I cannot just do something in a lesson and expect to 'own' it. I have to take the learning and then play with it myself. Otherwise I become too dependent on others to ride through me. (hope that makes sense). So it makes total sense to me that when you could ride on your own and play with it in your own time that it would help to consolidate what you have learned.

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    1. Yea I definitely believe we need to practice outside of lessons in order to solidify skills. It's just like. Wow I've been jumping 2' for.... 15 years? Close to 20? Feels like I should have already done the "learning" part there lol

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    2. ha! welcome to horses.....

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    3. lol ain't that the truth!

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  2. I try to jump outside of lessons at least every other week but I'm also lazy and don't always want to set up fences.

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    1. Ha I feel that. Back when I did more solo jump schooling with Izzy I actually liked setting up my own fences, and esp setting the distances myself. Bc I.... Generally don't trust jumps set up by God knows who to be set at reasonable strides, and I personally prefer to actually know the measurements in feet

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  3. Go Charlie!! I love how even though he is always changing and challenging you in his own way, you are so calm and collected about it all. I don't currently have an arena or jumps so I only do it in a lesson, but when I lived up north I would take Gem over jumps all the time and never had lessons. I'm sure both approaches aren't all that good but it is what it is. I agree with Theresa up above: I need time to digest and work through things on my own outside of a lesson before it really sinks in.

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    1. Honestly I'm not convinced that there is a totally right or totally wrong way to go about it - I think we all just kinda figure out what works for us and our horses in our circumstances. I guess I just got really cozy with the two jump lessons a week routine and am now having to readjust

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  4. I was never comfortable jumping outside of lessons because I knew I didn't know what I was doing. Maybe if I was jumping regularly I would feel more comfortable with it but I don't know. I might always be a chicken.

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    1. Yea that makes sense. I can't exactly claim to not know what I'm doing bc.... Well. I've certainly been doing it long enough haha! But sometimes nerves are hard anyway. Go figure.

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  5. I wish I could have eyes on the ground more often when I jump so that I could review the film and see where I need to improve. It's one thing to feel like it's all good and flowing but another to actually be good and flowing. Feeling solid is good, but still, I'd rather fix not-good habits early than let them develop and cement themselves in routine.

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    1. oh man the video is SO HELPFUL. especially in getting to see what my trainer sees and put it together with her commentary.

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  6. I usually end up jumping outside of lessons a few times a year. I've actually started to jump LESS outside of lessons now than I used to... my horse just doesn't need it.

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    1. yea that's kinda where i ended up with izzy - we did what needed doing in lessons and she was otherwise good to go. charlie, on the other hand, could use a little more mileage!

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  7. Jumping outside of lessons has been something I've struggled with for so long. My old trainer did not allow us to jump outside of lessons so now its something I struggle with even though I've been out of her barn for... 8 years now? I've boarded my horses at self-care places on private farms and in my own backyard and if I didn't jump outside of lessons, I wouldn't have jumped probably for 7 of those 8 years. So, it's something I need to get over. Current trainer encourages it as long as we don't jump higher than what we jump in lessons. Now, even if I am asked/offered to ride Ranger outside of a lesson, I'm allowed to jump (shocked me at first) and it feels really strange. I still don't do much, but it's definitely a way to test HOW comfortable you are. If you can't do something without a trainer, then I question how I can do a course in the show ring or jump higher fences or a log on a trail. So, I'm trying to push myself to get over the need for constant hand holding. It's not necessary to do AS much without a trainer, but perhaps start small and get comfortable with less and build your way up? This sport is so mental, isn't it? And its not like every fence in lessons has 100% assistance either... But, if you figure out the magic solution, let me know! I think I was brainwashed by my previous trainer and now I'm convinced that I can't jump without help. I'm getting better, but it's hard. It's a bad habit, just like my inability to close my pinkies when I ride...

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    1. yea i can totally understand that mentality! it's funny actually, when i'm riding at shows - whether it's stadium or xc - i never really miss having the trainer around (since i've maybe only had coaching at events like... two or three times haha). its' like i recognize that that's my time to go out and do my thing, and i typically put in a lot of prep for whatever level we're riding so the courses always feel fair.

      it's been tricky with charlie bc we often really need a ground crew while jumping lol, and it's kind of a pain getting on and off a million times (tho in the above ride he didn't knock anything down, yay!). and just with how changeable he's been, it's good to have eyes on the ground. all the same tho, he needs reps right now - jumping just once a week is not sufficient!

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  8. OH MY GOD I FEEL THIS POST SO HARD WOMAN YOU REACHED INTO MY BRAIN TO WRITE THIS SDLKUFLKSJDFLSDKFJ *THROWS PAPERS ALL OVER DESK*

    jk its only tuesday i still need these.

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    1. lolz i'm glad i'm not the only one!!! ;)

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  9. I jump by myself all the time; until recently I wasn't getting lessons consistently every week, and if I never jumped on my own I wouldn't jump at all! It's a good time for me to experiment with different exercises, gauge my own comfort level with things, and work on my decision making skills. I think it's an important part of learning to be able to do a thing (whether jumping or a dressage movement or whatever) and then be able to ask yourself what was good and what needs fixing, and then to go back and correct your own mistakes without needing someone else to tell you what to do. Especially for eventers - we don't get help at horse trials, so it's an important skill!

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    1. yea honestly i think you're right. there is a LOT of value to be had in working independently at some of this stuff. like it's one thing to bop around the course your trainer set for you, and another thing entirely to set that course yourself. in fact, back with izzy i had to start making some rules for myself about how i could set courses (esp with regard to minimum jump height haha) and it actually really made a difference. i'd still very much like to get back into lessoning twice weekly... but this current state may end up being the status quo for a while longer. we'll see!

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  10. I am just on the verge of being able to do this at home for all the reasons; weather, footing, Savvy's state of training, my own mental goblins. It takes a village really.

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    1. omg for real tho. it just can't ever be easy, can it? at least it's fun and exciting!!! ;)

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  11. I try to school alone for sure when I can even if it's just a little cross-rail. But I'm definitely braver and more likely to up the game if I have a certain friend or two with me. B is right there with Charlie where he's getting brave and more forward to the fence while I'm still hesistant... technically we're learning how to jump together though but I can't tell if we're at an advantage or disadvantage because I have no idea what the hell I'm doing 😂

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    1. it's definitely awesome when they start figuring it out! charlie's never had an issue with bravery, rather - if you watch his earliest jump videos it's more along the lines of he kinda just bops around and isn't particularly impressed or driven to exertion. but now he knows it's FUN and suddenly he's getting really into it haha

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  12. haha I just answered your post question in my post but you already know the answer. And frankly you should try your hand at some hunters with Charlie, just for the experience. Enjoy the rhythm and the inviting fences!

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    1. oooh definitely! so far the stars haven't really aligned for charlie to participate in our home barn's shows, but i definitely foresee playing in the hunter ring with him. i honestly believe there's a lot of value in learning how to execute a steady, balanced and flowing hunter course, even if hunters isn't my discipline of choice

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  13. I jumped around a little yesterday in my rope halter, because ground work turned into a bit of under-saddle work. And I've always jumped outside of lessons because Murray needed/needs constant reminders and rechecks of his concept to jump the painted sticks.

    I do remember when jumping Murray was like jumping a different horse within one ride and from lesson to lesson. It's hard!

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    1. ha that sounds like fun!! tho i'm.... probably not likely to try the same on my own horse any time soon lol

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  14. I got so much out of jumping by myself. It let me make mistakes and play around with adjustments without the pressure of someone watching me or having to fit into a trainer's schedule.

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    1. yea honestly i think there's a lot of value to it. i remember when i was responsible for planning most of isabel's jump schools i'd get really excited about setting up different courses or exercises, and i'd have to think more deeply and plan more ahead about how high and what we needed to practice. maybe the fact that i'm less actively involved in that portion of things is related to why i feel more uncertain sometimes?

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  15. I want to Jump The Things, but it's scary. At home, it's just me and the Bird, in a big field with some indifferently-located jumps. Indifferent jump arrangement does not help and honestly I should bite the bullet and make some damn jump courses (we have enough stuff for like five or six fences) on paper at home and then just Build One Each Week on Sunday so that I can work on it that week. Actually, that's not a bad idea. I hate the lack of a jump crew, but I finally built a mounting block out of concrete blocks up by the jumps so that I don't have an excuse for not getting off and fixing the jumps.

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    1. honestly i'd bet that once you get in the habit of searching out fun exercises or putting together versatile courses, you'll find yourself getting more and more excited about trying new configurations. there's an awful lot you can do with 5-6 jumps. i often liked hunter style courses (side diagonal side) bc if you position everything well enough, it can all be ridden in both directions, off both leads, and you can mix and match with roll backs, lines and bending lines, and singles

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  16. Since I only ever get jumping lessons at clinics, I basically always jump outside of lessons. I don't really think it's great. I'd love to have a jumping instructor. But we don't have a trainer at shows either, so I suppose practicing without a trainer is probably good practice.

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    1. idk i have this strange mental space reserved for jumping at shows where i'm totally cool with it all. i haven't had regular coaching at shows since i left college, and it's totally fine for me. i never miss it. but it's almost like, "well this is our assigned course so it must be fine!" vs setting stuff up myself and second guessing it. idk haha

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  17. Sometimes those hunter style courses are really good for us, right? I haven't started jumping with Mae but my trainer had. The effort is good, the form not so much. I'll post pics soon :)

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  18. I need to build something like those fake walls, although I'll never be able to paint them so artistically. I jump by myself all the time - I find it's really helpful for me to gain confidence in my own judgement, although I am guilty of setting the jumps much smaller than my coach would probably like. Of course, I still need lessons, bonus to that is I have someone to push me further outside my comfort zone!

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  19. Back when I jumped (lulz), I liked to jump regularly outside lessons. I'd keep it little and simple, but it let me work on putting things together without someone talking me through it. That's what you have to do in the show ring, so makes sense to practice. I'd rarely do anything high or technical because I didn't want to get myself into something I couldn't get out of.

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  20. A lesson ride 3x more than I ride on my own. But this post has me thinking. The part where you say Charlie has outgrown you as far as training goes...that turned on a light bulb in my head regarding my own riding. Thank you! I will tackle tomorrow's lesson with a different mindset.

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  21. When I transitioned to eventing it was super foreign to me to jump outside of lessons. But my trainers over the years have always said that they can't be in the arena or on course with me. If I can't get comfortable in my own skin I would have problems. From cavaletti poles and up I jump it all out of lessons. Sounds like charlie is progressing really well!

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  22. I never was allowed to jump outside of lessons since I was in h/j

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