Ranger Recap: It’s all in the canter

We’re FINALLY having gorgeous weather! High 70s, no humidity, and sunny. Perfection. Seriously amazing weather. If only summer wasn’t ending. I have serious issues with the end of summer. I also have serious issues with students returning to school [all college students in DE need to take remedial street crossing EVERY SINGLE SEMESTER. A few have returned to campus and already are causing street crossing problems and classes haven’t even started…]

Anyway, due to timing (I was early, someone else was late),  I ended up riding with Katherine and Mikey, which meant nothing other than I got some breaks here and there while she jumped. Sometimes it’s nice to get breaks? It also meant there was a little less variety in fences as  I stuck with my fences at the  2’6″-2’9″ height while she had her 3′ fences.

Flatwork Takeaways:

  • USE MY INSIDE LEG DAMNIT. Ugh. I don’t know why, but my inside leg did NOT want to cooperate in the beginning. Regardless of the direction, sometimes I just don’t have  an inside leg. Eventually my inside leg woke up and helped me out on turns and we could successfully circle around our fences without looking stiff as a board…
  • Occasionally I have the habit of turning my head sideways which then unsquares my shoulders. I need to stop doing this so it doesn’t become a bad habit that I need to undo. When I look ahead, STOP TURNING HEAD SIDEWAYS IMMEDIATELY!
  • When transitioning from the trot to the canter on the right lead, without fail, I rush the transition and pick up the wrong lead. It DOES NOT MATTER WHICH HORSE I AM RIDING. I need to stop rushing. I need to take my time and think about my transition (I have a terrible habit on Batty of screwing up just this trot-canter transition ALL. THE. TIME. and it appears it’s not a Batts issue but a me issue. Oops.)
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Ranger ❤

Over Fences:

We warmed up both directions with our outside single. Normally this jump is easy. I decided to start cantering left lead away from the road. For the LIFE OF ME I could not hit the right distance and we had an OK spot but not a great spot. My trainer said I had the canter for the distance, but backed off at the last minute.

From the right lead, we had the same, nice canter, though perhaps an inch more forward and hit a gorgeous spot. Ranger didn’t entirely lift his feet so it was a tad clunky, but other than that… Sometimes though I still think about the jumps which make me think this one was probably in the 2’9″ range vs the 2’6″ as a pole was added later to make it 3′ for Mikey’s final course. So, that’s my excuse for looking at least the first time.

We returned to the left lead and I got the same damn spot. So I repeated it again and this time, I changed my canter. We actually got a better spot and I got a lecture. We don’t change our canter to fix our spots. Which I know. But, unable to figure out what I was doing wrong, I figured I could just ride a little faster and it would solve the spot issue. It did, but that wasn’t the solution we were looking for. True, I know it’s true. We ride the same canter the whole course. If I need to, I can lengthen or shorten, but the canter SPEED must stay the same. So, me picking up an entirely different paced canter was not the solution. Establish pace then make an adjustment to stride length if needed, not to the actual canter itself. Does that make sense? We want rhythm.

Finally, I tired and starting to have a mental block with this stupid jump, I decided that it wasn’t my canter, it wasn’t necessarily even my stride length, but my approach. Ranger was sort of dragging me at the turn so  I was holding him a little too deep in the corner. We weren’t turning later, but by staying out longer, I was adding in an extra stride and not seeing as well as I should have because I was fighting him. So,  instead,  I changed my approach and staying off the rail and cut the fight with Ranger (by staying out so long before,  I had to first fight to keep him out, then fight to turn because, hello approaching gate). The turn was easier,  I was able to stay steady to the fence and then keep him moving for the forward spot. Finally we got it and could move on.

Course work! Yay! Basically, our course consisted of right lead to the outside single, around to the (tight turn) to the inside (christmas tree) line in 3 around to the outside line in 4.

Course 1 (no video):

We started off well enough and actually the first half was the best we did. Our single was perfect as well our inside line. I HATE the turn to the inside line because it’s SO easy to turn late and basically you pretty much have to turn at the jump your second jump of your outside line and not take out the standard. Then, depending on the entrance, move up for the 3. All of this was really good. But, on the landing, we had too much speed and I starting fighting we Mr. Strong Head and we didn’t stay out. He pulled, I pulled BACK instead of up and we cut our corner and had a terrible approach to our line. Despite that, I seam to have an excellent ability to correct in lines and the 4 worked out nicely. I just made WAY too much work for myself.

Course 2 (Ignore the commentary…):

First jump: the distance was great, but we fell in on the landing and swapped. We regrouped with the simple change, but it took a stride or 2 or 3 to re-establish our pace which was critical because we were near the gate and needed to keep MOVING. Then we chipped the in of the line but moved up to for the 3. Then instead of riding the horse I had, I rode the horse I had last course and held him out (GOOD), but slowed him down (BAD) in case of pulling (none in sight because he realized who was riding him the second I lifted him up). As a result, I rode him towards NOTHING and then had to work entirely too hard to make up for it through the rest of the line.

Lesson learned: I need to ride what’s under me, not what I rode last course.

Course 3 (continue to ignore the commentary):

First jump: We seemed to be nailing this jump all day. On the landing however we were both able to stay balanced and square which fixed are issues of last time. Maintaining our pace, we had a nice ride to our inside line and continued to hold the canter to our outside 4. Of course, I saw NOTHING and we have a long spot, but it didn’t matter because, Ranger. The line rode well and we ended there. I love this horse.  Seriously, I love this  horse.

At this point, I have no idea how large anything is. And that’s fine. The out of the outside got a top rail for Mikey to make it 3′ and then we both called it a night. A year ago this lesson I had my nice crash of Batts. Now I don’t even care what I jump. I think I’ve come a long way?

Again, Ranger.

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Oxford in the summer

3 thoughts on “Ranger Recap: It’s all in the canter

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