Early Days

Jumping Elton – Take 2

I’ve (mostly) snapped out of the “bleh”-ness from last week, due in large part to some fabulous rides all weekend. Saturday I took two back-to-back jumping lessons; first on Elton, then on Spirit. I showed up early to watch a few other lessons and help out setting jumps. Probably not my smartest move, given the sunburns on my arms and being fairly tired before even mounting up, but it was nice to catch up with other gals at the barn, and very good for me to watch others’ lessons and learn from them.

So, on to lesson #1 – Elton. It went WAY better than Wednesday’s lesson. The warm up/flat part of our lesson still needs improvement – I’m still learning how to feel what a good pace is for us and how to get engagement from the hind while connecting to the bit. But I think I have the jumping  part more in line; I was able to stay off of his face as use my body positioning more to clue him in on steering and speed. He was a very willing mount, and I think he had fun too. Thanks to J.D. for taking pics and video!

Lesson #2 was on Spirit and we had a pretty good lesson for most of the time. I felt more secure in my positioning and I think I’m finally catching on to being more subtle with my riding style – using more seat and keeping a more constant contact so I’m squeezing my hand rather than yanking my elbows. Laurie was pretty positive about our flat work. Jumping started off pretty good too.

But, we had refusals. Laurie saw the first one coming but I was caught off guard by it. Losing impulsion throughout the gymnastics apparently. Spirit stopped square which was good, so we circled and approached more aggressively (so I thought). Nope. Refusal again. And this time not so square – more dodgy. I scooted her (side pass) back into square position, then Laurie took the whip from me and gave Spirit a good spanking for being naughty. The jump was lowered and we got over it. Then it went back up and we got over it again, but with the help of me using the whip right before the jump, to backup up my role of alpha mare in the relationship.

Grrr. Sometimes I’m fine with disciplining Spirit but other times it bothers me more. I know its necessary (and it works!) but I just wish I didn’t have to. I wish she *wanted* to jump, even when conditions aren’t 100% perfect. She simply doesn’t like challenges – she wants to jump low jumps, but she’s not interested in having to really use her body and she really doesn’t save me if I get out of position, or take off my leg, or make any mistake at all. Of course, its not fair to expect the horse to do her job and mine all the time, BUT a safe mount for eventing wants to jump and will save the rider on the occasional times when the rider screws up.

Anyway, the lesson ended on a very positive note, and all in all I do think that my riding position is improving and that I am making progress in understanding Elton. I am really enjoying being at Windwalker and part of the barn group – all of Laurie’s clients are just sweet, kind people who are intelligent horsewomen and very welcoming and encouraging.  An exciting opportunity has come up which I am exploring – it if pans out, I’ll be posting on it sometime in the next few weeks, but I’m trying to not get ahead of myself. =)

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