Haajes in the grid - Pure focus!

So I’ve managed to pinpoint some holes in my riding skills.

I didn’t do it alone, though. This past weekend celebrated Grand Prix rider Kyle King came into Winnipeg to hold a jumper clinic. I eagerly signed myself up, along with my horse, Haajes, fresh off his inaugural show in the 2’3 hunters last weekend. My eventual goal for this horse is the jumper ring, and I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a good clinic.

The first day revolved around coursework, building and maintaining a rhythm. I went into it with a bit of trepidation, since Haajes hasn’t thus far been tested much in terms of boldness – however, I needn’t have worried. None of the fences fazed him whatsoever, so the coaching focused mainly on keeping his canter straight, forward and adjustable. If these goals were achieved, the jumps just seemed to happen.

In fact, I was agog at how willing and keen Haajes worked around the course; the forward, calm and methodical approach that Kyle implemented seemed to instill some confidence – whether it was in myself or my horse, I can’t quite say! Either way, by the end I’d pinpointed some areas that still drastically need work – lead changes, for one. His autos are decent but a cued, clean lead change still eludes us. Hopefully next year we can show Kyle some consistent, strong swaps. Also, there’s still a tendency to resistance when I ask him to come back, exacerbated by MY tendency to go to my hand before my seat when asking him to sit back on his haunches a bit more. Another workable issue.

Day two involved some gridwork: a double bounce with two strides in between, meant to force my tippy position in a stronger, more “waiting” stance. It worked a treat, too. However, this particular demon is gonna be a while in the vanquishing, I’m afraid. While each course got progressively better, it took a dang few before I was consistently waiting for the fence and not spewing myself all over his neck on takeoff – and this was over very small fences, nothing more than 2’6 or so. If the fences had gone up I’d probably be missing a nose. However, Kyle was persistent enough to penetrate my rather thick skull, and this is a problem I’m determined to solve.

As a bonus, by the second day Haajes felt infinitely more adjustable and receptive to my leg and hand, and was again bold, calm and keen to the fences, so I could concentrate solely on my own position (and it definitely needed the attention!)

The sum total of my experience? Complete and utter satisfaction (and a determination to improve before next year!) A highly recommended clinician. I’ve attached a video so readers can gape at my cringe-worthy simple changes and (hopefully?) see the gradual improvement in my insidious jumping-ahead problem.

Kyle King Clinic