Jumping for Joy

Rode B yesterday for the first time since Wednesday.  It had also been the first time we did much more than a walk in the last 2 weeks.  The reason we had taken it slow started out from him being sick, then progressed more to nerves about riding in a “public” situation.  With the nice weather, there seemed to be triple the amount of people at the barn, one time I even counted 10 horses in the ring at a time.  And with all the walking, grain and spring fever, Bentley felt like gunpowder beneath me.  With 10 kids and ponies in the ring, its not a very good time to let him loose!

After working at Halton Place, I came to GEC to happily find that it was close to empty.  Sunday nights area always good for that.  We joined Michelle in the ring, who was training a 2 year old set for the track (and was incredibly quiet!).  We did our usual warm up and he was good, but trotting only lasted about one lap of the ring before he decided it was time to canter.  I let him do it, knowing that he needed it, and was careful to check him when it started to get out of control.  There were a few points where we were unbelievably fast, but I listened to his footsteps and it was still 3 beats.  Makes me wonder what his gallop would clock in at!  I will have to upload my garmin results and see what we hit.    We had a couple of good fast canters, I couldn’t say no… he just seemed so happy to run!

After getting that out of our systems, we worked at the trot.  One of our problems is that after we canter once, he thinks that bending to circle at the trot is the same thing as prepping to canter.  So we did lots of that. 

I wanted to get him picking up his feet as well, just to practise for anything we might encounter on the trail.  In the past, he does this over 18″ cross rails and there were jumps set up, so I decided to trot him over.  Well instead of his usual stepping, he lifted up and gave me a nice jump over it!  Surprised at his reaction, I congratulated him and pointed him at a slightly scarier jump: still a cross rail, but had scary tires on the sides.  Again, nice little jump over it!  So then I walked him over the 18″ vertical skinny jump (about 5-6′ wide instead of 8-10′, so scarier as its more enclosed), he walked fine, so again we trotted and he had a nice little jump!  We then trotted up to a 2′ vertical, and no problem, pops right over it like hes been doing it since birth.  Did a couple more times over the first little x, and called it a night.  I think he actually enjoys jumping now, and he was so fluid about it, he might turn out to be a better jumper than I expected!  However, after the jumps, he did canter and get a little wild… our steering wasn’t so fabulous and it would take a lap of the ring before I could get him to trot.  I’m sure after we school a bit more, we will be able to better steer and maybe even navigate a course in time for the next schooling show.

Unfortunately, nobody was around to video or even witness our accomplishments!

I also had a jumping lesson again on Friday at Myrddin.  LBH and I are hitting our groove, he isn’t trying to bolt anymore and I notice myself relaxing at the canter more.  Hes pretty bouncy and I think I have been gripping with my thighs and pushing with my hips to keep the shape of his movements, but after a few laps of cantering, I caught myself doing it, focused on relaxing and riding it up and down like a raft on a wave, using my core to keep centered.  He seemed happier about that too!  It helps that I am starting to trust him a little more.  Now that I know I am doing it, hopefully I can catch myself doing it on Bentley too.  I’m typically cantering him in 2 point, but have been trying to move back more as I start to trust him more too.

Anyways, LB and I were working on our jumps in the lesson.  I think I am getting better with my position and my nerves about jumping a course is getting better too.  I know what I really need to work on is looking forward.  Marg keeps telling me that I have to stop making dressage corners and push him on.  I think I have been taking the “slow and steady” approach because I am nervous and most of my previous lessons are in dressage.  It might take a little longer to click into the jumper mindset!  One thing that I am very proud of from this lesson was, he tripped on our way to a line of a 2’9″ vertical, one stride to a 3′ oxer and I lost my inside rein.  I was planning on circling until I was able to get it back together, but I heard Margie telling me to go for it so I did.  I ended up jumping the line without my rein and stayed relatively straight, collecting the rein after we landed the combination.  I was pleased that I didn’t panic and I was able to rely on my other aids to get us through it.  LB certainly helped too, hes such an eager jumper!

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