So I had my first jumping lesson on Elton last night. It was a bit rough. As my friend pointed out later, the problem with riding the trainer’s horse is that it’s the trainers horse. Meaning:
- Horse is used to a professional who is crystal clear with the aids.
- Trainer doesn’t want the horse to get screwed up – its *her* horse.
Of course, the trainer doesn’t want any horse to get screwed up by bad/novice riding. However, that is perhaps most especially true when it’s her baby getting ridden around. She’s put a lot of hard work into that horse.
Elton started off a bit saucy. He made it clear that he didn’t like how I was riding him. I’m sure due to point #1.
Laurie was not as clear with her instructions as normal. I was confused by what felt like conflicting instructions and new command words – I presume due to emotions following point #2.
This made for a challenging lesson.
After a few jump rounds, Laurie got on Elton, and confirmed that he was being a pill, and it wasn’t just my riding. Whew. He even had a refusal with her on, which was a bit freaky for me to watch, but at least it wasn’t a dangerous stop, and of course she fixed it right away.
My lesson then got better. Here are my main takeaways:
- “Set it and forget it.” – Quickly get him organized, then just sit chilly and let him be. He doesn’t like fussing, and I have to just give the aid then give it a rest. Then give the aid again if needed.
- I need to figure out speed. Elton is so rhythmical that it is very hard for me to know if we are going fast or slow. What felt fine to me was way too fast according to Laurie during the warmup. Likewise I apparently had him going alternately too fast and too slow during the jumping. Hopefully I can find the correct speed and learn to *feel* it on him. And quick!
- Mane is your friend. Grab it. Or get left behind.
- Release the reins 3 to 4 strides before the jump. If he speeds up, sit up with my body to slow him – do not mess with his mouth!
- Straightness is key. Keep his neck straight. Use counter-bending when needed.
- He is already long. Keep him in a package. His nose should not be in Timbuktu.
- Be more dramatic with the aids. Strong clear aid. Then “shut up” completely. No nagging.