Start with the Add Step

Saturday, I had one of those lessons that was pretty bad but turned out kind of good. Eli warmed up fine and throughout the lesson, he did everything I asked. This bad was all me. He even knew I was asking the wrong thing, did it anyway, and got really pissed off.

So we started with trotting a low vertical. That was fine. We cantered one of the lines, and I asked Eli to move up at the last minute, so he stretched and jumped and seemed miffed about it but didn’t do anything reactive. I should have asked him to move up upon landing, though.

This is from last night when we had to shoo a dog from the arena

We then cantered another inside line, a three-stride to a one-stride. We got deep, I pressed up, and then Eli drifted right to fit in the one stride. And he was PISSED. I couldn’t steer and we maybe left the arena a little bit. My trainer talked me down some, but a trailer pulled in and Eli couldn’t turn past it back toward the barn without hollowing out, scooting forward, flipping his head, and dolphin leaping. Just, ew.

My trainer had me work through it, though, and had the trailer park down by the barn instead. Eli was still worked up about me riding with zero sensibility. We tried to canter down an outside line but it wasn’t pretty and I pulled up before the second fence. We went back to trotting the low vertical. THEN we came back to the outside line, trotting in and cantering out. I left Eli alone. He finally relaxed again and we did the outside line a second time. My trainer was happy with his and my mental recovery, and I asked to do the inside 72′ line again. She instructed me to go with what I land with and not insist on the numbers.

why do I even have an outside rein

Eli came in quiet, landed soft, and we cantered out in an easy six strides. The add step. Now we can be done!

So what my plan with lessons going forward is a)HAVE ONE and b) warm-up in the following order: trot low vertical, trot in and canter out of a line, canter a line on the add step, canter a line on a normal step. Instead of working either haphazardly or backwards. This isn’t news to me–this is a typical hunter-y warm up I am very accustomed to, but don’t always think about because my mind is not fully transitioned to hunterland. But it’s getting there. I have to do it wrong to realize the value of doing it right–but hopefully I don’t have to do it wrong again! I think the more organized and quiet I can be, the more Eli will appreciate and be able to perform what we are trying to accomplish.

preview, maybe?

Anybody want to make me a tee-shirt that says “Let’s Start with the Add Step” in, like, a tasteful font that conveys understated elegance? Or even better, an icefil shirt with the print running down the arm …

Last, I plan to do an updated review of my EGO 7s soon, for anyone one interested. I love them.

6 thoughts on “Start with the Add Step

  1. Ahhh the intricacies of the hunter ride. It’s like, how many times can you ride a 2’3 vertical wrong? LOL! I have my first jump lesson since Rio’s time off on Friday- I am not looking forward to reminding myself the million ways I can mis-ride a cross rail, LOL! Good on you for persevering!

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  2. Ha honestly I’m not convinced that’s a strictly hunter style of ride – we do that type of warming up over fences as standard operating procedure in eventing land too. Esp with a horse that wants to get strung out or strong on landing (like sir Charles) I definitely prefer to ease him in with an add stride canter when possible. Then as he gets into the zone he will want to do the step.

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    • Not saying it’s exclusive to hunters, just something I remember doing with different horses over the years, many of which wound up in the hunter ring. I think it’d be a good warm up for any horse going over fences.

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