January is a great time for reflection and positive forward thinking. So, I’ve decided it’s time to spend a few moments defining exactly where we are now so we can know where to go from here.
We are competing Beginner Novice, and schooling Novice, taking the occasional Training level height jump as well. In practice at home she is a dream – light and airy and uphill towards the jump, occasionally getting heavy on the landing but lightening right up when I sit up and ask her to. She simply loves to jump so she tries to be on her best behavior whenever she knows that’s what we’re doing. She jumps straight most of the time. Her form is fantastic, especially when we raise the height of the jumps. She likes jumping the bigger jumps and using herself more – cracking her back and getting those knees way up. However, she’s also happy to careen around like a motorcycle if I let her – she needs me to remind her to relax and wait. As to my position, I get overly defensive with my leg position if she is bright, and I need to still work on picking up my upper body faster after landing jumps. I’m comfortable using leg now much more than before, and I’ve picked up the magical art of bridging reins and wither pressure. Out at shows/schoolings, however, we are still battling our stopping issue at new jumps. When she halts and dances towards one side, I need to focus on turning her the opposite way she dances. It’s getting better, but we’re not “fixed” quite yet. Straightness is also more of an issue at new jumps.
We are competing at Training Level, and schooling a few more advanced moves but not quite everything required at First Level. Half-pass and shoulder-ins, stretchy trot, and extending and collecting the gaits is the “extra” stuff we work on. We have finally established a nice rhythm together at the trot, and a healthy impulsive walk (as opposed to the puttering around kind). The canter we are still figuring out. We get it together for short bits at a time. She is hollow on the right side (does not want to take my right rein down, nor move off my left leg – she has a hard time crossing her left legs over her right ones). We’re improving, but still needs lots more work. Spirit does not have the same passion for dressage that she has for jumping, but by and large she is very willing and eager to please, so she tries to figure it out.
The Year Ahead
I’m getting married in March and honeymooning for a full 2 weeks, so competing beforehand is probably not a reality. After I come back, I’m severely limited in the amount of time off of work I will be able to get, so only weekend shows for me. Given those limitations, I know I wont be showing as much as I would like. However, I still think that 2012 is the year for Spirit and I to get through a full BN event, with a score. No eliminations on any round. I want us to conquer the stopping issue, and I want Spirit to willingly accept the right rein. I want to improve my position, and I also would like to start riding more horses to make me a better rider. With a great horse, supportive family and friends, and an amazing trainer I am happy with where we are and with where we are going!