X-Country jumping in the dark is HARD

For the next month, I have switched from doing my regular lessons on Bentley, to doing lessons on Margie’s school horses up at her place.  So last night, I got to get back on LBH for the first time since the winter.  I had forgotten what its like to ride a horse without that big “Go” button, and first thing Margie caught me on was that I didn’t bring a crop.  In fact, I have no idea where mine is.  Luckily one of the students in the class before me was willing to lend me hers.

I had my GPS watch on and clocked his trot at a whopping 5.8 mph (to put this in perspective, Bentley is 8mph when collected in a frame) and he would drop pace whenever I would ask him around a circle.  Needless to say, my legs are a little sore today from trying to keep this guy going!  Somewhere around when he changed directions, I got through to him, or he just decided it was time, and we had a more reasonable trot.  Actually I felt quite confident about my trot and ability to keep him engaged and flexible.  I don’t think the other students in the school focus as much on dressage as we do. 

On to the canter, I really think I have improved recently on it.  I felt very secure in the saddle and although I was sweating hard to keep him moving at a good tempo, I was getting good feedback from LBH and Margie.  Some things I still need to work on is to keep my lower leg still, and keep my shoulders tall, back and open.  I blame the latter on the fact I sit at a desk all day.  I find I hunch in every thing I do and really have to work at it.  When we changed directions for another canter, LBH really clicked into gear and I didn’t have to work at all to keep him moving.

By this time it was about 8:20 and the sun was setting, but it was also time to start jumping: something I haven’t done in months, and even then, didn’t do a lot of.  LBH just loves to jump, which makes him great for me since my flat work is much better than my jumping, so I can use all the confidence I can get!  Sometimes he loves it too much and just charges the moment he knows he may be pointed at a jump.  Seriously, he does it before I even point him there, he just sees the other horses jumping and is like “yaaaaa I know where we are going!”  So a few circles to keep him in line, and we were jumping nicely with the exception of my hunching again.  I’m working on it!

We went through a few different jumps and lines as the light slowly faded.  Our last few lines I could barely see and basically directed by intuition, hoping that LBH could see better than me and kind of figure out what to do based on the general direction I could point him in.  We had no refusals, however he did scrape his hind legs a little on our last jump, we had slowed quite a bit before the jump which would be the reason for this.  I think at that point it was almost totally dark and he had to slow down and contemplate just as much as I did.  But that’s why he has boots on, and it really was nothing!

The other 3 students and I went for a walk around the field after to cool out.  I told them about the moonlight mileage ride at solstice after they made comments that we need glowsticks and headlamps to finish the lesson.  They were quite eager to hear about distance riding and were in shock about me doing things like Ride and Tie.  I guess I am a certain sort of crazy… I need to start applying that confidence to my jumping!

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