That was me riding down to each fence the other night during my lesson. I couldn’t find a distance to save my life. Not even if I had a GPS with stride-by-stride feedback. Time after time I approached a fence, counting out loud like some deranged refugee from Sesame Street, only to take off from practically under the base or somewhere three counties away. It was not pretty, and the Sainted Mare was losing patience, as was my trainer.
The problem, according to my trainer, is the fact that I am trying to find a distance. In doing so, I pull on the Sainted Mare’s face and disrupt her flow, and then we get all herky jerky and Up and Down and whatever distance I thought I saw is no longer there and then AAAAACCCKKKK! CRAP! BUGGER! $!%#!!!! Sugar is either launching herself vertically in her best space shuttle impersonation or hurling herself across space a la Carl Lewis in the long jump with me clinging like a burr to her back.
My trainer implores me to forget about the distance, to get into my canter rhythm, balance her up about 6 strides out and then leave her alone. In other words, I should worry less about the distance and more about the rhythm and then, Voila! The distance will appear. Easy Peasy. Like magic.
So I tried it. Set off, got my canter, balanced her up, and “Let go and Let God,” so to speak. The Sainted Mare promptly grabbed the bit, took off and made a bid at the fence, deciding on a leap that would have put good ol’ Carl Lewis to shame.
Sigh. Back to the drawing board.
So the next day, per my trainer’s suggestion, I worked on counting down to a small cross rail from 5,4, and 3 strides out. I also worked on trotting in to a seven stride cross rail line and then cantering away, trying my best to stay still in my half seat and not to touch her face.
I learned two things. 1) I suck at counting. 2) I am very good at leaving my horse alone and finding distances to very small fences.
Are there any shows with divisions called “Cross Rails for the Aged and Afraid?” I think I’d have a shot in something like that.
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