Despite her fears and not having jumped in 8 years, 27 year old rider Lynsey Moritz is embarking on a journey to see if the sport is the right one for her. Here’s Part 4 of that journey. Read all her posts here. Thanks Lynsey!
Tales of a Jump Weenie Part 4
Hey all! To make up for the lack of jumping in my last post this one has double the fun, a double hitter! Fortunately my back is almost back to 100% so I’ve been so very happy to be riding regularly again. The 2 week break has done Harley and I the world of good because he’s come back better then before-yippee! I’ve been told before that sometimes having a few weeks off is a good thing for the body and mind to get synced up and have a break-this was definitely true for my boy! In my first dressage lesson back Shayne said she had never seen Harley go so well, which I was very pleased with. Thus far he’s been so very calm, confident, and light off the leg and in the mouth-I’m in heaven!
Last week, we were in the sand arena one more time for our jumping and sadly (since there is a show coming up) there were no jump poles or standards to use, so we had to make do with some cavalettis. I was perfectly fine with this. Shayne said I wasn’t going to get away with it next week (which I didn’t as we will see).
We started out with riding on a large 20 X 40 with 2 jumps on either side to warm up. Cantered over both directions with no problems. I needed to just focus on getting into the corners nice and deep to hit the straight just right. Next was setting up a grid with 2 low jumps, each with a stride in between the jump. Once again, canter on through and try not to throw away my position completely. Check. Since they were a little lower, I was able to try to focus on keeping my heel a little deeper and release just the right amount for the size of the jump.
Next we made jump 1 to 2 a bounce. This made things a little more interesting. We’ve done alternating raised trotting poles before to only have Harley freak out half way and launch himself over the last few or try to dive out at the end so I figured that a bounce could make him have a slight panic attack. Nope, he was a perfect gentleman. Added another bounce; perfect once again. By the end of the session we had 3 small bounces to a one stride for the final baby oxer (about 55-65 cm). My biggest issue was getting back into position fast enough in between the bounce and the 1 stride so sadly I got left behind a few times. Happily we (or rather I) got it in the end.
My big takeaways from this session were:
1. Push around the corner then put by bum in the saddle to drive forward.
2. LEG LEG LEG! Sometimes my guy needs some extra encouragement to get there so I need to be ready a lot quicker to give him a little squeeze.
3. I need to be a little quicker to get back in the saddle in between the 1 stride jumps because you know there will always be a double and/or triple at a show and it’s bad news to get left behind!
So this week we were braved and ventured into the field. Yes, the location of our absolutely miserable ride about a month ago. However, I’ve been riding there a lot more often in my flat work so he will get over that the field is NOT a horse eating machine and it’s been really great! After last week’s lesson we decided another week of grids was the way to go but bumping up the heights some. Shayne swore it would make my have to work on my position more since I wouldn’t be able to get away with being lazy in between fences, I thought she was just trying to kill me. Did the usual walk, trot, canter warm up followed by a single fence to canter over both ways.
Then she added the second fence, again 1 stride in between each fence. That went just fine (again my corners were a big issue) so add jump number 3. Our work from last week made an impression because I actually didn’t freak out, lose it, or die! Whoo hoo! That’s progress right? So why not add jump number 4? This is where is got a little tricky. Thankfully I have a terribly forgiving horse that will stay the course no matter how badly I mess things up! I didn’t hit my corner right (the grass was a little clumpy a few strides out from the first jump and he kept having a spaz at that spot since it’s where our corner ended) so we missed the stride to the first jump, launched it, had to make it up on fence 2, by 3 my reins were in outerspace so jump 4 was all Harley going “ok mom, I’ll just keep going while you sort yourself out.” At least I kept my leg on to tell him to keep going, right?
We did learn that if I screw it up big time, he will keep going and I can hang on and go with it! Most horses would have dove out after jump 3 and said “see ya” to their rider for having no reins to guide them but my boy really isn’t nasty; he is kind of like Dory from “Finding Nemo”, “just keep swimming swimming swimming….”
So after a good giggle and pat we attempted again (sadly Shayne didn’t get ANY photos of the rein-less ride which definitely would have been gag-reel worthy). Went through again, much better the next time. So it’s obviously time to change the jump heights again, right? They were all (rather large in my opinion) cross rails so 3 was made a straight and 4 was an oxer. Over we go and it was hit almost perfectly. He was starting to get a little wired so he wasn’t hitting those corners very well so the approach wasn’t all that pretty but the stride was actually pretty good so bang off we go.
The final time was rather amusing; because he was getting a little jumpy we had to do about 3 canter circles before attempting the line since he wouldn’t stinkin’ settle into anything the resembled a canter. Finally Shayne shouts at me “you better do it this time!” With a hop and a skip here we go! He flew through it and sadly knocked the last rail but I was pleased none the less. Once again I had to learn that having some energy and bounce is ok. I asked Shayne what the heights were and she said “it doesn’t matter, just ride it the same and you’ll be fine.” I replied, “I know but I need to know for the blog.” She giggled and said she’s not that good at knowing heights (great jump instructor right 😉 ). I’d say, with my limited experience and guestimation, that we started out around 55ish and the final jump (oxer) was around 70ish. I don’t think that’s too shabby, but they could have been bigger or smaller, who knows. All I know are these things:
1. CORNERS! They will make or break your striding and therefore your line in and through the jumps. Ride those bad boys like you own them!
2. I need to get better at seeing my stride further out. I’m good at the 3, 2, 1 countdown to the jump but I need to see it about 6 strides out so I can adjust. With all our dressage work I know I can shorten or lengthen my horse really easily, so now it’s time to put it to the real test (although a dressage test does show it off pretty well too).
3. If things go downhill fast, as in me botching things up big time, Harley will take care of me. He will stay the course, jump with all his might, and keep on truckin’ afterward until I get myself right.
4. My reins are my arch-nemesis. Irregardless of what I’m doing, they always seem to creep and get too long. I blame it on me wanting to be a cowgirl as a kid and starting out western (with long reins….).
5. I actually don’t look as terrible as I feel which has been a big confidence booster. I do need to work on squeezing my shoulder-blades together so I don’t become the hunch-back of Notre Dame.
6. Once again, do not mistake energy and bounce for spook and out of control. Sit deep and roll with it-that little spark can help get us over a jump!
I’m not sure what Shayne has planned for me next week but I know it’s in the field and it involves jumps. She did say we’ll do another round of grids before the show (March 24) and we’ll work on a course as well.
I’m still debating whether or not to jump in the show (my beloved husband keeps telling me I have no choice and that I will jump. Thanks honey, love you too). I have until March 17 to sign up so we’ll see how the next 3 weeks go.
The photos included are photomerged. We did a quick succession of shots to see how I am each step of the way. Please forgive any mistakes in them, I’m still learning how to do it properly! Last week’s are in the sand school and this week’s are in the field.
I’ve also included one of Harley looking oh so cute (he’s totally looking for some goodies!) and one after our ride where he’s a little sleepy. You can tell we live in a very sunny country because of his lovely bleached mane tips-he looks like a surfer dude. 🙂
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