The rain last week resulted in some interesting jump arrangements. The dressage ring had most of the jumps in it, squished into the tiniest course ever with the tiniest turns ever. Thank you, but no. Sure, I need to work on tightening up our turns, but that course just looked like torture for Eli, who has a 47-foot stride. I don’t want to have to add and compress and steer quite that much just yet. Or possibly ever.
So the jumping arena also had jumps in it, squished to one side in a very interesting pattern, with a line of PVC creating a barrier so that the back third of the arena is separate from where the jumps are. I pretty much completely dislike this set up, but I guess I’m stuck with it until a small schooling show the second weekend in October on the property, when everything will get moved around again.
Saturday my coach gave me the option of where to jump and what to work on, so I said I’ll work on smooth turns and let’s stay in the jumping arena. I warmed up over everything while it was about 2’3″, and then the jumps were raised to 2’9″ – 3′.
You can see the strange set up … Working on turns turned out to be rather entertaining and not at all smooth, as Eli felt like playing between ALL the jumps ALL THE TIME. So much for short-term goals. That being said, he was getting his left-to-right lead change consistently and easily in the midst of the playing. Okaaayyyy, I’ll take it. All the playing meant my turns were bigger than I had originally wanted–Eli’s version of playing isn’t suck back and head toss and crow hop, it’s more like leaps and bounds covering a ton of ground with some head tossing (but not flipping, thankfully). While it’s not at all hard to stay on, this makes steering tricky-to-impossible. Coming around to jump two in the first course, Eli did not stop playing until two strides out, and then was like, HEY! A jump! He jumped the jump and then went back to playing. Oh, well.
For the second course I tried to harness at least some focus from Eli, and did indeed get it between 2 and 3, and again for the 2-stride 5 & 6 line. My coach did not instruct me as to whether to do 2 to 3 on a bending line or straight and angle 3. My philosophy is we be jumpers, we take the shortest route between two points, and that’s a straight line! Is this high-school geometry paying off? This also requires more concentration on my part for lining up the route, and consequently, I ride better, my eye is better, and Eli listened perfectly and jumped 3 quite handily on the angle. He was quite proud of himself and played the whole way to jump 4 and around the oxer to the 2-stride, but once he saw the 2-stride about three strides out he bee-lined to it and through it, and I had to whoa pretty big in the middle because the line is set quite short. Coach was very pleased, and praised me for taking the straight line to the 3 jump. Maybe one day we will have a course set on the numbers so that I don’t have to compress Eli so much, but until that day a little more discipline on our part is good practice.
Sunday’s weather: why to visit Texas in October. I flatted Eli on a mainly forward, stretchy step, and decided to take him through the little lines again, all set around 2’6″–the brick red jumps in the diagram. The first one is a short 3 strides, and the second is a–you guessed it–short one to a short one. So slow we go. I trotted in an cantered out the three stride in 4. First time, easy. Second time, mess because Eli’s stride got longer and I did nothing about it so the 4th step was mincing. Correct the step, third time through was back to easy. I then cantered the one-to-one a few times, turning different directions after each time, asking him to land on the lead I wanted to turn on. Eli was a little better balanced and slower off the ground through the one-to-one–I think he sees the need for it and plans for it in his hairy scary brain. I also plan for it better myself and don’t let his canter get too strung out. All this leads me to believe we need more challenges! Eli’s confidence definitely felt up this weekend.
I am hoping to get video of flat work and over fences this week. Without video of me trying out lateral work on Eli it’s kind of hard to know what to work on.