So everything we just worked on with the flat work must be incorporated over fences, right? Especially riding the turns like quarter-circles or even square turns but going straight in between the turns … apparently a totally novel concept to me. Eli and I just kind of loop around aimlessly sometimes, but the clinician was putting a stop to that.
We started with a very basic warm up and gradually moved on to working on two lines together, putting together flat work and jumping warm up exercises. Balanced uphill turns are key to a decent chance of having a good round over fences. Also key to lead changes … but more on that on day two of jumping.
Back to day one of jumping. My theme was MAKE A DECISION. Gee, where have I heard that before? I am glad for the sound on these videos, because I can hear the clinician saying things like you have to make a decision to do the add step or move up in strides one or two, not strides six or seven (in a 82′ line). Does that sound familiar to me? Um. Yes. I mean. I might hear it a lot. Maybe. But, we got it going pretty well for a few tries …
… Until we started to get kind of tired. See: day one flat work with all of the extra cantering. I basically started jumping up the neck and chipping HARD. Thankfully for Eli’s quick reflexes he saved my ass every time. Nothing rattles me more than a bad chip (having a rail is a close second). I could feel dread creeping over my brain. But I could also hear the clinician giving me excellent instructions about making decisions — early decisions — and using my seat and waiting for the jump. Still, I had an epic fail course, commemorated here on video: bad chip, break in gait, massive stumble, getting handsy … but there were still some good takeaways — we recovered and kept going after Eli tripped (no idea if this was random or from fatigue but probably a little bit of both and I assure you it was frightening and I was glad to feel Eli trotting okay afterward), and as Eli tried to dive to the left after the last fence I decided not to let him do that much more forcefully than I usually ride him. I am not proud of this video, but it is instructive. I can’t let me or my horse being a little tired result in sloppiness or a lack of discipline (another theme of the day: discipline!).
But our last attempt was much better. Eli and I both had enough gas left in the tank for a few more organized, balanced turns with some fences thrown in and I really like that we seem to be pretty good at a single oxer off a long approach (thank you, trainer!!). Eli also got a bit leapy after jumping the oxer nicely and I was like “OMG” and the clinician was like “KEEP CANTERING.” Oh. Yeah. Good point.
Day one left me feeling physically fatigued and I am sure Eli wondered why we worked so damn hard, but he got a liniment bath and lots of treats, poultice, and pampering for his exceptional efforts. I still was very excited for day two, because I knew Eli would be in a better frame of mind and I had a lot to build on.
It was also such a treat to catch some of the riding other groups were doing, and getting to watch Kathleen teach and communicate her program is just as valuable from the sidelines as being on a horse in the ring with her. I am also eternally grateful for all of the filming Vicki and JenJen did for me and Eli, and to anybody else who caught film of us, thank you!