Monday, December 7, 2020

our bread and butter

If there's one thing that's been more or less constant in my riding life these past few years, it's the Saturday afternoon jump lesson at OF. Long before Charlie lived at this farm -- and in fact, before Charlie was even mine -- this lesson has been a fixture. 

charlie's herd finally moved to their winter pasture
And fun fact: Actually my first ever proper riding recap here at 'Fraidy Cat Eventing was from one of these lessons --- that time we conquered the astroturf-bedecked Jump of Doom. Ahh memories!

slightly comical that each of these horses is wearing the same face lol
For a few different reasons over the past year, tho, I kinda stepped away from the weekly group rides. I guess I wanted a little more individualized focus, esp as we were so intent on moving up to Training level. 

At this point, tho, all I want is to have as much fun as possible with my horse. And group lessons have always been my favorite. So -- we finally made it back!

just love this horse's face <3
I wrote last week about Charlie's time off from jumping, and and that we're starting back with very basic exercises. Including joining a crossrail lesson. This week was more of the same --- except back with my normal group mates. Which meant the jumps were a little bigger, and everyone got in more reps since adults tend to be better at following directions than 8yos lol...

eeeeee look at this fierce little nugget!
It was a cool little exercise too -- the same configuration as last week. Which goes to show that it works equally well as ground poles or cavaletti, not only actual jumps. It's basically three lines of three jumps each, but with each line sharing the same square oxer as a central element.

simple exercise gives a lot of options!
Each line can be ridden from each direction, and while every line is ridden straight (vs bending), depending on which line you're doing you must jump the oxer on an angle. 

The distances in our set up were all fairly similar -- mostly ~4 strides, altho one diagonal was about 6' shorter than the other I think. Just enough of a difference to keep you adjusting as you cycle through, but not really a big deal. Probably could set at whatever distances you want.

lol i love it when charlie jumps all cute. also you can see how there's a line from each of those three background jumps to the pink and teal oxer
And guys -- Charlie was so good!! It felt so good to be going along and working through exercises like this with him again. He's just.... wow, he's so consistent and steady now. Like.... seriously, you have to watch the video to see him loping around like a hunter -- giving every jump a cute little effort even tho the heights all stayed pretty small <3 <3

when your brontosaurus shows off his inner velociraptor <3 <3
We also had a little line of bounces to incorporate into the pattern, and Charlie was aces even tho he hasn't seen a bounce since probably last February lol. Tho --- I will admit, we did mess it up pretty badly one time, but didn't catch it on video lol. 

d'aww charles
Had already gone through twice when it was three elements, then went to go again after the fourth element was added. And idk if Charlie was off in la la land or not paying attention, but he straight up missed at the first jump and we kinda clobbered and careened through it. 

And oh my goodness, he was SO MAD lol! But... Sorry buddy, can't blame that one on me! He nailed the 4 next time, tho, and again once we put the whole course together (in the video below).

"that was very fluid, except for that last step...." - runner up* for the understatement of the year from Trainer P lol (*second only to "It is what it is")
Honestly, tho, it was a pretty simple ride. All the jumps were right around the 2'-2'6 range and we trotted into everything except the final course, and mostly did the steady add strides. Altho haha -- you can see in the image above there were probably a couple places where a bigger stride would have done better LOL.... Whoops.... 

For real tho, obvi that still image above is pretty awkward, but.... it really doesn't look like much in the video. And was also kinda our only real oopsie (aside from the one calamitous bounce attempt). 

charlie is such a tank haha
I was really pleased that Charlie just came out and executed everything very easily. He felt almost like a lazy school master haha. Bounces, angled fences, related distances, lead changes.... It's all old hat for him at this point. 


He feels like he knows exactly what we're doing. And like.... The one line where we got pretty close to the final jump (that awkward shot above), the next line through Charlie really picked up to do the more forward step -- and then absolutely nailed his final lead change going into the slippery mud-slick corner (where I was sure we'd either get the change or probably die haha). 

So, ya know, it was nice that he got the change LOL! And also nice that he was able to adjust into that more forward canter we worked on all last year (turns out, tho, I still have to ask for it haha)...

he looks happy to be at it again, no?
Another huge benefit of riding in a group is that it's much easier to get video lol. I haven't had any jumping footage since our disastrous last show attempt where.... Well, Charlie was an entirely different creature on that particular day. So ya know. Always grateful to have that video to help connect what I'm feeling with what it looks like. 

All in all, it was great getting to ride around with my friends in a lesson again -- and I think Charlie enjoyed it too... Anyone else prefer riding with groups vs alone? Or does it depend on what you're doing -- like dressage vs jumping, etc? 

16 comments:

  1. I like both types of lessons equally, I think. I really love my surcingle/flat private lesson, but the group ride is so fun even if it's on the flat. Plus, I love watching other people because I learn so much from that, too.

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    1. oh man, agreed so much about watching other riders -- and honestly often watching the other horses too. so much of learning to ride is experiential, but there are really only so many finite experiences i can get first hand in a single lesson. but being able to sorta vicariously get different experiences by watching my friends take different types of horses through the same exercises provides so much more data lol

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  2. If I ever get to a jump lesson I would definitely prefer group. I also like the group format for the groundwork/horsemanship and trail clinics. I learn just as much by watching as by doing. For dressage I really do prefer individual.

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    1. honestly yea i agree with you there. dressage really is so much more individualized -- and esp for the focus a trainer needs on each individual rider. like even in group jump lessons where i've ridden with trainers who do a lot on the flat / warm up section, we often end up breaking into "turns" so each rider can get that individual focus. for jumping tho, i really do prefer a good group!

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  3. It's funny. Years ago I really liked group lessons. Now? I like private lessons. I've had some fun group lessons the last few years, mostly riding Ranger, but in general, especially riding Nay? I like the privates. But, I will admit, Nay definitely needs to learn to be in the ring with more horses. He's usually OK with one or two others, but he does feed off of energy in the arena. Goal for next year. LOL

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    1. ha for real tho, that's a great goal! in a way i was lucky with charlie, bc he had been very accustomed to using a lead horse on the track (had some emotional issues plus various rehab stints where it turned out to be easiest to get him working when he had a friend to follow) -- so that translated directly into how we started him jumping: by following a friend. so he's always been easiest in a group setting. and esp now with crazy warm up rings etc, it turns out to be an asset to have a horse comfortable with occasionally-chaotic traffic

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  4. I got a group lesson this weekend too!
    Charlie looks great, just doing his job, jumpin the jumps. Having fun with Emma!

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    1. yay for lessons all around!! and yay for horses that just show up to do their jobs haha, no muss no fuss!

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  5. Group lessons are great but the trainer sometimes really should calibrate the group lol. Charlie is such a pro!

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    1. such a pro :) and yea the calibration thing is tricky -- it's supply and demand, right? there are just more riders in the 2'6-3' band than there are at 3'+. i tried, but conjuring group mates proved difficult lol

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  6. Yay jump lessons!! You and Charlie look great in the video! So glad you were able to sign back up for this and have fun!

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    1. meeee too -- so happy to be back and doing things with the pony!

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  7. yeah for jump lessons! Charlie is the cutest boy. :-)

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    1. ha he certainly thinks so! (and i tend to agree too lol)

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  8. Sounds so fun! Isn't it the best when your horse becomes reliable? Nice work getting him there!

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    1. thanks -- yea that reliability is just so so so key. for as much as i wish he were fancier on the flat or whatever, honestly just being able to show up and do anything at any time is a prettttty nice attribute haha

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