I hadn’t had a chance to post about my last ride at GEC yet. It was back on Tuesday with Heather, and we had a blast.
It started with looking at a jump with some poles on either side, one of which was near a set of standards. Heather asked “Is that a distance you can jump?” I did a quick measure, and confirmed it was a bounce. Sure, lets work on bounces today, great idea! Heather and Rurik had never done this before, but it was worth a try.
I lowered the initial jump to a crossrail, keeping the far groundpole down where the bounce would be, this was to give the horses a hint of what was coming, without making things too complicated at first. Both horses trotted over the crossrail without putting any effort and not picking up the canter stride after. Of course -_- So I took Bentley over at a canter, and he was lovely.
Put the second jump up to a 2′ vertical with a nice groundpole in front. Trotted Bentley in, he didn’t pick up the canter again which made for an awkward jump. Heather’s turn to try it on Rurik. Not enough impulsion resulting in a stop at the second fence, I think they knocked it down too, standards and all. Second time through, pushed Bentley more and had a stride or 2 of canter before the combination, did the exercise well. Went through a few more times at canter, nailing the distance every time. My only complaint was that because we were still having trouble picking up that right lead, he was cutting in at the corner too early and we didn’t have the nice straight long hunter approach I was looking for.
Heathers turn again, a few more stops and an awkward lurch. Problem was Rurik was trotting immediately after the first fence, and didn’t understand the whole, jump-land-jump thing. Here’s where I said to Heather “Why don’t you try it on Bentley so you know how it feels, and I will work on getting Rurik through” Last thing I wanted was to see Heather fall resulting from an awkward jump (she is just over her ankle fracture). It made sense.
Well, the exercise half worked. A few times through and Rurik had it figured out, just needed that push for extra impulsion and to try it a few times. I had him cantering a bit in both directions which helped a lot, and halfway through I found a whip on the ground I could use, which perked him right up! We even did the line, rollback to a 2’3″ vertical. He is cantering and jumping so well these days, what a difference in the past year or so since I was last on him! His attitude has really changed too!
The other half of the plan, didn’t work so well. Heather came in too slow with Bentley, and they didn’t have enough impulsion to get over the 2nd jump. He seemed a bit confused, and half-tried to jump it, half tried to cavaletti it, and ended up tripping over it, down on both knees. Heather was so good about staying on, it was slow motion and she just stayed off his face and let him recover himself. Awesome recovery! They were both fine after a quick check, and certainly learned the impulsion lesson.
The second time through, he picked up the canter a few strides out, and the speed surprised Heather. The look on her face was pretty funny and “woah woah” escaped, but Bentley was just kind of thinking “See look, this is how we gotta do it! I will show you, just hang on” He has a big canter when he is jumping or on the trail (anything fun really!) and going from a standardbred to him is a big speed difference (trust me, I know, it took me a while to get used to his stride! For the longest time I thought he was trying to run off with me, when he was really just being him) They got through it beautifully, but Heather decided that was enough excitement on him, they did try cantering again, and she WILL be getting on Bentley lots more to practise cantering on a horse that does canter 🙂 Swapping horses is our new girl night.
We went back to our original horses, and Heather and Rurik went through the line and rollback several times wonderfully. The crop certainly helped with the impulsion factor!
Bentley was great for me, just loving the playtime. Again, nailing the correct spots. We made a mini course of bounce, rollback, bounce backward, rollback again. He ticked the jump on the backwards bounce, but I cant complain because the groundpole was well far behind (optical illusion making the jump look smaller) and its weird going big jump to small jump in the bounce. So I was happy with that. He also ticked the larger vertical once because he came around the one corner a little flat, so we redid it with some halfhalts and he was wonderful.
While we walked them to cool out, I decided to try standing on Bentley again (although we were in endurance saddle) I let him walk as I stood…. kind of. I didn’t get all the way up, my knees were still bent and my back was tipped forward still, but I was close! He decided to stop, and I couldn’t get him going again, so that’s partially to blame. Perhaps I need to invest in a nice long dressage whip.
Heather also started to try, putting her feet up behind the saddle and lifting almost to her knees. She opted not to go fully as her boots might damage her new saddle. Good choice! Save your tack 🙂 She still wants to sometime, on another one of our horse swap dates, we will make this happen.
It was as we were untacking that Heather said “This was our last ride together” and I was really sad. I hadn’t thought of that. As we left, I was shocked to see it was 9:30pm. It really didn’t feel like that late, and I wished we had been able to stay longer.
I decided not to ride last night, Heather and my ride had been so special, I thought that was the best way to end it. Not end entirely, just end of us together at GEC. We each have a new place we will be going, and just have to try a little harder is all!