Thursday, September 5, 2019

Now We're Getting Somewhere

In terms of riding, most of 2019 has felt like we aren't quite there.  I'm not sure how to explain it other than it felt like something in our training, or my riding, was missing. It's not like it's been a bad  year, or we've had major problems but I've felt like we were so close to really moving up a notch but just couldn't make it.

I had a lesson on Tuesday and while the biggest thing we jumped was a line of cross rails, it was an amazing lesson.  We focused mainly on the approaches and straightness and something finally clicked. It was like a light bulb went off and I found what we've been missing.

I bought the saddle pad a few weeks ago and then found a perfect matching bonnet at the show so I had to get it.
When my trainer asked what I wanted to work on, I told her that we've been having issues at one single diagonal fence and an outside line.  The diagonal was on a short approach off the right lead.  We had to canter down about three quarters of the long side before turning I just could not get a distance to it to save my life (or Peebs sanity. Thanks bud for putting up me!) So after warming up we moved to that.  It was a plank with pole on top but trainer broke it down and set the plank on the ground leaning on the standards.  It was maybe 1' tall. She said the height of the fence didn't matter but she wanted to make it as easy as possible. 

Blurry screen shot but pro tip: Don't let your horse counter bend down the long side
Our problem getting to the fence was that Peebs was bracing against me, or I was bracing against him, and he was counter bending and drifting to the inside.  That made staying out and waiting to turn hard, so we would turn early and screw up the line to the fence. Trainer put out placing poles to help guide us and make me see where I needed to turn.  But it wasn't until I really got him listening and bending to the right that I could actually make that happen. I needed to ride off the rail down the long side and make him hold the bend. It really helped to think about doing a baby leg yield to keep pushing him out into my left rein. We finally nailed the approach and the jump and it flowed so well. 

We then switched to the outside line that had also been giving me trouble. It was off the left lead and while not as challenging as the single diagonal, I just couldn't get a flow to it.  It also didn't help that it was a short 4 stride line and if I rode the first fence aggressively we ended up at 3.5 strides.  Trainer had me start circling Peebs, spiraling out at the canter again to get that same feeling of holding the inside bend, but for whatever reason Peebs took offense to this and got super hyped and scrambly. I think part of it he needs to see the chiropractor (happening tomorrow) and I need to work on our left lead canter a bit more. We ended up walking for a bit to calm Peebs down then just picked up a canter at the end of the opposite long side, cantered around the short side then went right to the line.

I had to hold Peebs more than I would have liked, considering we've also been working on me not holding onto his face for dear life, but as my trainer said, this was a deliberate holding that I was backing up with leg.  Letting him get long and strung out would make getting the four very hard and since Peebs was worked up he needed to be packaged more.  I could really feel a difference between this type of holding vs my nervous holding and I'm glad we were able to work on this during the lesson. Typically Peebs is much better once I let go and ride forward but occasionally he needs me to hold and package him. We never quite got a nice flow into the line, but sometimes that happens and  I'm learning to be ok with it.