Thursday, May 5, 2011

My heart is so light right now!

Whew! Another incredible day from my Lord and I don’t even know where to start! I learned SO much today and got to do something I NEVER in my wildest dreams thought would happen. I know that this is going to be a bit long and winded and might not be very well written (as it is late for me ) but I will do my best!

Started off the morning with a jumping lesson w C on Denali. The big horse already feels stronger and more forward after just a week with C. We warmed up with the usual w/t/c and worked on getting him in front of my leg and staying straight in his body. Warmed him up over a little crossrail and he trotted right up and over like he did the first time I rode him. In a way, this was a bad thing, because it convinced me that he knows more than me and that I should just pose up there and stay out of his way. To the contrary, he soon informed me! When we began cantering fences my ineffective riding became more obvious. He would get quick about three strides out and then chip badly. Also, I managed to completely blow several turns which resulted in him knocking the fence down with his front legs. Finally I managed to sit up, put my leg on and keep contact with his mouth and voila! His canter became bouncy, his shoulders came up and he stayed quiet to the base of the fence. THEN I could pose over the fence and show off his pretty jump! I told C it’s funny how much like Alli he is in that he can rush the fences, but he’s so different from her because she is so nimble and he spends SO much time in the air and really stretches out on landing. Pretty funny :-D

Okay, big time drum roll now…yes, today I got the absolute PRIVILEDGE of jumping Monkee. Not just jumping Monkee, but jumping him through a 3’6” grid. Now let’s remember that I haven’t jumped 3’6” since….I was like, 14? Gee whiz. I was so nervous and excited that I was literally shaking but I tried to pull it together. Just in time for everyone to show up to watch me. Naturally. We warmed up in a similar fashion to Denali, just asking him to come up in front of me and go forward, forward, forward. Then we started through the grid. Just a ground pole to a cross rail first, that I can do. He has a tendency to back off in the trot right before a fence so it was important to keep my leg on and hands in front of me. Then they started. going.up. Before long we had a ground rail bounce to crossrail bounce to vertical, one stride to oxer, two strides to vertical (gradually increasing in height to 3’6”). My job was to get him in on a forward trot stride and then keep my eyes UP and my shoulders BACK and let him figure it out. The first couple of times through, he wanted to really drift left so C put a few guide rails to keep him straight. After landing on top of the last guide rail and flustering himself a bit (equaling a huge buck that made me burst into giggles), we started getting through straighter and straighter. He is a very typey jumper who really cracks his back and practically kicks himself in the chin with his knees, but if he doesn’t give it a good effort ,he just jumps across the fence (as opposed to AROUND it) and twists his front end, so the grid was good for him to figure out that when he jumps properly, it’s actually better for him.

And WOW what a great feeling! To jump a horse of this caliber, with his accomplishments…for the first time, I could almost feel what C feels when he gallops up to a solid Intermediate fence, when this horse sets himself up and prepares himself to make a huge effort. It’s incredible. It’s a true blessing and I can’t get over how amazing of an experience it was. I won’t get over that high for a while!

But the day wasn’t over yet. I also got the immense privilege of having a flat lesson on Alli with S! I have never heard S teach before but was very, very impressed with her lesson. First of all, she had ME figured out in no time…she told me that I was worried about riding this mare and making her do things because I didn’t want to mess her up. Well, that hit the nail on the head. I have been tiptoeing around this horse all week. As a result, I didn’t push her nearly enough and was convinced she was a big time greenie right off the track. After five minutes with S, it was clear that this mare has more of a foundation that I ever would have guessed. Once we got her going forward and into the contact, we could address her habit of putting her hind end left constantly. This meant moving her around every stride. Now, I had never thought of this analogy before, but S kept saying “Remember, a circle is a thousand straight lines. You want to be able to put her right, left, wherever you want each stride.” By keeping her body moving and listening I was able to keep her where I wanted, so her hind end didn’t ever have a chance to wander to the left. Tracking right this meant also keeping her left shoulder from popping out. When her trot would get quick, I had to “think slow” and take a deep breath and slow my posting and she would come right back to me. S also had me think of activating the hind legs by feeling them under each seat bone, and the leg should feel like a bouncing ball is under each seat bone. That imagery really helped me feel it. Her canter was a TON better, she has a super canter when I actually sit up and ride her through it instead of just convincing myself she’s too unbalanced to ask for anything. S had me lengthening and shortening all the way around the ring in the canter and it was wonderful! This little red mare has so much potential that C saw from the beginning and I just needed to feel it to believe it! What a super girl!

Then got to take Guppy on a trot and he was fantastic. And then worked with Champerdoodles and he was fantastic. And I’m tired of typing so those guys get the short stick tonight, haha. It was just awesome, awesome, awesome and an amazing blessing! I am going to be quite sore tomorrow, though!

Happy Cinco de Mayo and God Bless!


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