This weekend was a little different as far as lessons go for me and Eli. We usually ride with my trainer on Saturday, but Eli felt a bit … weird … I asked a trainer & instructor as I trotted past them if they thought Eli looked a bit off, and the trainer said she was just saying how Eli looked kind of funny. Not lame at all, but perhaps a bit body sore. I decided light flat work would be better for Eli than jumping, so I let my trainer know the situation and figured we would just pick up with jumping the following week.
Sunday was Easter, so there were no scheduled lessons … except as it turns out there were. One trainer always holds a Sunday group lesson, and although one wasn’t on the schedule for Easter, she changed her mind and said it was back on, texting all of her clients. I was already tacking up, and asked if there was room for one more. I usually couldn’t join this group because of my side hustle on Sundays, but that was off because of Easter. And so I found myself riding in a large group of both juniors and adult amateurs. The group consists of both flat work and jumping. I will say at the outset, my right leg is still sore.
This trainer called me out on:
My rogue left hand
My lack of right leg
My excessive and unnecessary use of an opening left rein
My half-assed two-point on the flat
My sitting down in front of the jump
These are all things I have heard from my own trainer, but in different terms from a different perspective it was enough to get me really focused on getting out of my horse’s way with all of this extra picking I was doing. Wait, who me, over ride? Wha…? Nah … This trainer also got a left-to-right lead change on the flat out of me and Eli, so her way of explaining how to make that happened quite obviously helped us immensely. Eli felt totally fine and sound and not sore anywhere, which was a relief.
So anyway, after some flat work, the group worked collectively on stringing together a few lines of jumps. I benefit from watching others work, so that part of being in a group was just as informative to me as what I was working on.
Eli and I worked on (actually just I worked on; Eli was perfect):
Using my right leg to keep Eli in the middle of the jump
(Using my right leg at all, really)
Shortening my reins and keeping my hands in one position (a following one) so I am not constantly changing my rein length and contact with Eli’s mouth
Staying off Eli’s back in front of all the jumps
Easy to write, hard to do. BUT when I did everything right, Eli stayed soft and easily flowed down the bending line — we finally got to that point where if we can recreate this, we can start working on the details. He knows his job, I just have to stay out of his way. And how many times have I written that before? Ha. And of course this trainer had a lot to say about what we were doing and I am merely using my own words here from what I remember of the lesson and I’m not trying to quote her verbatim. There was more stuff she said that I remember the gist of but don’t remember enough of it to get it down accurately, but I think I get the idea. Like no way am I going to try to explain how she explained lead changes, because I will muck it up but I remember what she was talking about and it still makes sense in my mind, from a tactile perspective.
I had tentatively planned to school with my trainer on Monday, but that didn’t work out. Even still, I was able to practice over a low gate what I had learned (re-learned, probably) on Sunday — mainly, that was keeping my reins short and following, not sitting down, and using my right leg to keep Eli straight. That’s not quite it though — more like using my right leg in such a way that my body is no longer crooked, and Eli will straighten up naturally. Eli was so slow, and so soft, both Sunday and Monday … Maybe I am finally getting the hang of this whole riding thing? After, ya know, decades.
If I can beat the storms rolling in this evening, I will work on the flat with Eli. Otherwise he may be getting a few extra days off because of rain.