For the first time in about 3+ weeks, I had a lesson. And thanks to the glorious weather, we rode outside. Thank you lovely outdoor lights and 60 degree weather! You are all a fond memory since Friday greeted us with snow and Friday into Saturday saw temperatures around 13 degrees…
Since my last lesson before vacation, I rode exactly once (a quick ride on Ranger last week). I also had the stomach flu and completely lost any an all endurance I might have had before vacation. And for some reason after being migraine free for almost 9 (!) days, have had migraines for about 4 of the last 5 days including a really nasty one the day before. Despite all of this, I decided to actually go to my lesson, because, well, Ranger makes life better and I know this. This horse is therapy.
So the lesson started with the question: Was he wild when you rode him last week?
Um… no. He was comatose. I barely had enough leg to keep him forward. Granted I was sick, but, he was the usually Ranger, but slightly sleepier.
Oh. Really? He was crazy. I’ve never seen him like that. I guess it was just his rider.
See, I got a text Wednesday night while on my way back to the airport asking if I could ride Ranger while trainer was out of town on Thursday because he was wild. I assumed wild was an exaggeration, because, it’s Ranger and Ranger and wild are words that just don’t go together. And sometimes if my trainer is away at a show and I miss my lesson, I get an opportunity to ride Ranger. I just assumed maybe he was a little faster than usual and this was the case. Evidently not. But, as usual, he was my perfect Ranger.
So, onto the lesson. For some reason, whenever I haven’t ridden, we seem to do MORE flat work with less breaks. It’s not that we were working on anything, just that I didn’t get to rest. So, some circles, cantering from the trot, back to the trot from the canter, changing direction, cantering again, and then oh, wait, canter over that log jump, change your lead, do it again. It was the do it again that I finally said fine, but I need to walk a second. Endurance wasn’t there at that point. First time over the log (weird angled jump by the in gate) I was sort of happy with it (mostly since I saw my spot), but, we were a little long, hence the do it again. Second time through, I never established a great canter. We were more forward and rushed the jump and chipped. Third time through I was able to establish a nice pace early and then just worry about maintaining my rhythm to the middle of the jump (the second time I drifted a bit as I wasn’t focused towards the center of the fence either) and we finally found a nice distance and got to more on. One thing that this trainer focuses on is to steer with both hands together–I’m so used to keeping each hand independent that this is often a challenge–but it makes a huge difference. I think part of the issue is someone years ago ingrained in my head that I couldn’t cross my hand over the mane, but by allowing my hands so work together (instead of fighting each — I have soft hands so fighting in a way that someone with soft hands can fight–so instead of being ineffective?) I can work effectively?
So from here we moved up quickly and my brain got fried. More in a direction sense than anything else. Staying on the left lead, trainer wanted me to canter into the this inside oxer (tight turn — turning before the log jump on the corner) and take the long ride around to the inside line which was a straw bale jump to something else that I don’t remember. My issue was the path the get to the oxer. Does anyone ever just NOT understand directions? For the longest time stood there trying to figure out if she meant to turn before or after the log jump –meaning turning AT the jump, not realizing the turn was way before the jump, the same place I would start turning to approach that jump. Adult issues. Once we got THAT out of the way, I realized how huge the jump looked. It’s amazing how big jumps look when you haven’t jumped in a while! I’m sure it wasn’t too much more than 2’6″, but it looked huge, solid and built up. Of course I was reminded Ranger doesn’t care… First time through was fine, though I turned a bit late to the first fence. Second time was better. From there we were to add on our outside single. Except as we went to continue to our single, everyone (but me) seemed to get distracted. See, we are near the TastyKake factory and sometimes you can smell TastyKakes when the wind blows. Of course that night your could smell doughnuts. So, a comment was made about the smell, I respond, still looking and seeing my spot, Ranger thinks his job is done, trainer forgets we still have a fence to go and then remembers, meanwhile I’m adding leg determined NOT TO LOSE THE CANTER NO MATTER WHAT. We got the damn distance I wanted, but it was way too much work. Stupid TastyKakes.
From here, Ranger got a little mad as he thought we were finished. See, trainer got up from the gazebo and walked into the ring to adjust jumps/gave him a hug, but the getting up part was his cue that he was finished. We switched from cantering the short ride/tight turn into our single oxer and instead rode it the other direction (long ride) around to our outside line (in a 7) (we may have repeated this a couple of times before the course, I don’t remember), continuing to the inside line around to the outside single around to the inside single (that I didn’t know I was doing or that it existed — I just heard keep cantering to the inside single so I’m cantering until I finally saw I jump– thankfully I saw it eventually — and the spot was good because it felt huge ). We finished by cantering down our oxer around to our outside line, remember to rebalance, and moving up to the 6. Of course, the 6 felt way easier and more comfortable. But, I actually sat up after the oxer, lifted someone’s big head up an inch or two so that he couldn’t pull me forward, and added leg since we were now going away from the in gate. Amazing how those things work.
So lessons learned for the evening.
- Rebalancing after jumps really helps set up the next line. If I stay forward, I can’t really do much. If I sit up, I can actually ride? Rebalanced Ranger is really easy to adjust
- Setting pace early makes things so much easier
- Steering with both hands is useful and helps get all of Ranger where he needs to be, not just part of him
- Stop worrying about the size of the jumps. Ranger doesn’t care so why should I?
- Ranger makes life better.