Ranger Recap: Turning in the air

This week’s Ranger Recap focused on turns.

Rather than our normal hunter courses and occasional roll backs, this week was completely focused on deliberate turns in the air.

We started off with the outside single (away from the road) around to the skinny (turning before the mess of other jumps) to the in of the outside line backwards (3 strides).

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The trick with this was to ensure that I kept Ranger’s stride short enough to make the turn (heading towards the barn, he likes to lengthen) and to keep him off of his front end so I could turn him. That said, this exercise went surprisingly well despite not having that much time to turn…

Next we did the exercise in reverse, sort of. So, we came up the outside single away from the road to the skinny towards the barn to the out of the outside line (see handy image…lol)

course002This went…less well than the other direction. We struggled (it didn’t help that I sort of injured my hip and had no right leg the entire night) and basically rode without any inside leg and we missed the skinny the first time… On repeat I forced myself to use my leg that was super weak and got through the exercise but it was…not the prettiest.

Finally, we added a whole bunch to the first exercise. So, outside single away from road, immediate turn to skinny 3 strides to in of outside line backwards to end jump turn out of inside line backwards 4 strides to inside single to 2 strides to green jump. Confusing? Hell yes. I had the other rider go first because I was so lost.

course003 The first time through I made it though jump 6 before I looked at the ground and ducked around it… Not exactly a success… Lol. We repeated jump 4-7 where Ranger decided to try and BOLT approaching jump 5 but thankfully we survived. On re-approach, I was able to collect his stride and successfully accomplish the course at hand.

Take aways? It is REALLY hard to ride when you have 1 good leg. Wednesday night my hip was hurting so much I could barely walk. Yesterday is was much better, but I just felt weak. That weakness just made everything harder. It was fine, just harder. Overall, not the easiest day to do these exercises. Still, definitely a welcome change from the normal hunter courses.

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Ranger Recap: Look anywhere BUT the fence

I have had some really decent lessons lately and yet, I haven’t felt like writing about them. But maybe I’ll touch on a few exercises?

We warmed up alternating between small and large canter circles. The size wasn’t exactly important so can’t necessarily say it was a perfect 10 meter circle (aim small was the goal). But think small balanced circle. The focus was adjusting stride length, getting Ranger off his inside shoulder and shifting his balance. Overall, he was very much listening to my aids and I began to fear something was wrong. Lol. Usually we struggle with the tiny circles but the seemed to work. The “larger” 20ish meter circles we a little uglier.

We continued this to a some larger circles over a pole which was fine one direction and challenging the other. After all the small circles, I struggled to make wider, more sweeping turns. But I got there in the end.

This should give you an idea of jump placement…

Next, the circle pattern continued to basically include the inside single. So, we were cantering a roll back to the oxer. Here is where I started struggling. Not with the fence. The fence was fine, but with the rhythm and the canter. First I was too fast for the exercise. Then my stride felt too choppy. The jump itself, fine. But the canter? It never felt right until the last jump. Finally, we had a discussion.

When do I start looking AT the jump?

The last few weeks, I’ve been told I’m looking too far ahead. Mostly on the flat, but I know that it’s impacting fences too.

See, I turn a corner and I see my distance (or where I should be leaving). It doesn’t matter if I’m 3 strides, 4 strides, or 7 strides. The problem is, I shouldn’t be looking for my distance at that point (unless I’m 3 or 4 strides away). I should just be focused on rhythm. I’m not a pro. And most pros aren’t focused on distances at that point…

So, next lesson. STOP LOOKING AT THE JUMP UNTIL YOU’RE 3 STRIDES AWAY. 

FYI, hardest thing EVERY.

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But cutest pony ever

We changed direction and the roll back the other way to the second jump in the inside line. When I turned, I was about 3-4 strides so I was able to look pretty much right away so it was fine. Rhythm felt better this way and all was good.

We ended up with the following course:

Outside single towards the road, inside single, inside line, outside line.

The plan was to not look ahead (haha). Basically, approaching the first single, I didn’t actually pay attention to that plan because, well, I didn’t have THAT long of a ride to it, but coming to the inside single, I did look the first time, and then immediately stared at the ground until my trainer told me I could look and then continued to see the same distance as I saw 7 or 8 strides before when I had initially looked at the fence… The rest of the course was fine.

We re-did this about 4-5 times only having one error (I focused SO MUCH on what my trainer was saying one time that I forgot to steer to the outside line and Ranger noped out of it… 100% on me…). The looking down before fences will stop, but it’s an attempt to retrain my brain not to find distances 8 strides away and instead just focus on my canter. Eventually I will be able to look at the jump, but right now glancing down is the easiest.

Do any of you look for your distances too early? Any tricks to STOP DOING IT?

 

Ranger Recap: getting back into the swing of things

I took the week off of work and a side bonus was I was able to move my evening lesson to Thursday morning. It was a gorgeous day. Sun, light breeze, and relatively warm (well, it would be, it was still in the 40s when I rode). Regardless, it’s SO NICE to ride when you’re not stressing about work!

We warmed up on the flat and my legs were not cooperating. Ranger was sleepy so I was finding other methods to get him going. Like using my shoulders to post. Needless to say, this was NOT successful. Eventually though, I figured out how to ride, but the shoulder thing came back to haunt me here and there.

Over fences, we started on a circle over the jump on the end, working on pace and distance. It is SO NICE to ride when Ranger hasn’t been ridden yet. Typically he just does a beginner lesson, but still. He is SO MUCH more responsive. Anyway, the fences were easy and we hit our spots nicely.

Next, we started over a few mini courses. Basically, down our outside single (away from the road), up the inside line, and down the outside line. The outside to the inside were fine, perfect even. The trick with the inside was to maintain pace as we were passing the gate and the lines were forward moving. The outside line was…less great as I didn’t have a straight line to the in and took a long spot, but the out was nice. On reapproach, the course was good.

We did a few more courses, ended with our outside single towards the road around to the straw bales, the inside line, outside line, and inside plain straw bales.  The first time we did the course it was pretty nice except we didn’t maintain a consistent pace. We got a little quick heading to the first inside single (straw bales) though for the most part it was decent.

Being the idiot that I was, I decided to attempt the course again, and have video proof of my worst course of the day. Ranger was tired. I was tired. And well… We ran into traffic heading to the first jump because the only horse in the ring didn’t realize we were heading towards the fence and then I wasted lots of energy circling. By that point, Ranger was dead and… Yeah. But at least there is media? And pretty boots?

Sorry Ranger…

Ranger Recap: Drowning.

It’s warmed up here in the mid atlantic but the rain is back. We had 2 glorious mostly rain free weeks (so, there was some rain, but mostly dry) weeks. And then yesterday happened. My paddock and yard that had begun to dry so nicely? Yeah no. SO MUCH MUD. I’m drowning. Sinking is probably a better word. It is AWFUL.

So, after being washed away walking from building to building on campus yesterday (stupid college campus with terrible drainage and work schedule that left me with meetings on the other side of campus), I convinced myself that I really DID need to ride. So I ventured out to ride. Last week? We were outside in the outdoor for the first time since last year. Last night? Back inside. Yuck. At times the rain was so loud I couldn’t here instructions. So I made my own… Completely fair, right?

Anyway, it was humid (rain) so Ranger was slow and behind my leg a bit so… fun. Spent time working on that and getting his head up. He just wanted to drop and pull. Not so much in a drop and drag kind of way, but more so in a get heavy and fall on his face? My least favorite Ranger ride, especially when I’m struggling to keep him in front of my leg.

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We started off just working on a large pattern. Down the purple single (towards the in gate) and back around away from the gate to the Swedish oxer (orange jump on ugly diagram). We repeated this 3-4 times until we maintained a forward GOING pace to both jumps. Supposedly in his previous lesson (he did a 1/2 hour with a kid to who kicks and causes Ranger to gallop) he was bolting to the single, but mostly I just had to worry about getting him to carry himself. No drop and drag was happening. Initially despite getting to the fences at nice spots, we lacked…power, but once I found a better canter, everything improved.

Next we reversed the pattern. So up the single away from the in gate (tight turn to the purple single), down down the Swedish oxer towards the in gate and continuing to the outside line (purple on diagram) in the 6. All would have been fine, but I got in my head because I started listening to chatter. Find the straight line. Leg, power, 2 hands. And got in my head. So, Ranger noped out of it when he felt me not ride. We circled, I used my inside leg this time and all was good. We continued around, did the whole pattern, and everything was good.

We did another course or 2 and I completely forget what they were… Sorry. I can remember the courses my lesson mate rode? Not helpful…

To end on, purple single away from the in gate, around to the Swedish, outside line again, around to the skinny (green single). I HATE skinnies, but since I actually rode, it was fine. We had done the outside line 3-4 time by this point, but Ranger tried to NOPE out of it and I had to use so much leg/had to keep him on course. He as a little annoyed at me but thankfully all was good. He was SO hoping I wasn’t paying attention by that point (he was tired), but…

Over all, it was a good lesson. But my legs were dead. I paid getting off and manage to pull something in my hip. Then, overnight got a charley horse in my left calf. So I’m a mess today… Need more water and probably less coffee but…

Ranger Recap: Ride Defensively.

The frigid cold finally hit the Mid Atlantic yesterday in the form of crazy wind gusts and plummeting temperatures (gusts were up to 50mph during the day). Nonetheless, after cancelling last week due to a migraine, I dragged myself off to the barn to see possibly my almost favorite horse ever.

I was warned that he’d be grumpy, angry, and possibly crazy and that the kids can’t work him through that, but I said I was up for the challenge. Now, Ranger is a draft cross. I’m used to thoroughbreds and warmbloods being up. Ranger being up isn’t like that at all. He doesn’t get up, he gets heavy.

I got on and he tried to convince me he needed a nap. So we worked on trotting with energy and eventually I managed a forward trot knowing that everything could come out over fences. My trainer eventually asked me to through in halts and backs. This is when you could tell he was faking as it took everything I had (and several attempts) before I could halt without Ranger pulling his large head to the ground. Eventually, I was able to keep his head up, but the struggle was real…

After a while, we added in the canter which was surprisingly lovely. However it took a few strides to get my body back were it needed to be (why? no idea but I started the ride a bit forward). After 3 or 4 or 5 times around the ring, we added in the in of the outside line on a circle, in an attempt to tire him out before really starting over fences. We did this 6 times, with the first 3 being nice, then I got passive and Ranger NOPED to the outside. See, I came up to the most PERFECT spot on the most PERFECT stride so I didn’t add extra leg and since we had already jumped it, I didn’t use extra hand (both hands to the inside). Ranger saw the inch I gave and took a mile. I need to be on the ENTIRE ride. Ride defensively. On repeat (x2) no issue.

We switched directions, cantered around 3-4 times,  and did the same thing over the outside single on the other side with no issue.

Feeling “warmed up,” we started down over the inside single heading towards the in gate and then were to come around to the outside line in a holding 7. The inside single is the jump that Ranger loves to OMG LAUNCH over because it’s heading home and GATE. Sure enough, right as we turned, I felt him go for the bit, but I was able to tug his head up early and a couple follow up tugs brought us to a perfect spot. It was really nice and Ranger was slightly pissed that I had his number… We stayed way out but unfortunately, I didn’t keep enough outside leg on him for the line and he noped out of it. That was the last NOPE of the night and sort of woke me up… Circling back WITH outside leg, we got down the line in the 7, continued around, did it in a 7 again, evenly woahing at strides 1-3, continued around and did the line again, this time in a 6. And then we got to walk. Finally.

Next, the word “skinny” came up. Since everyone knows how much I love skinnies…. the plan was to approach the inside single from the opposite direction (away from the in gate) and then stay close to the wall to do this crazy awkward inside line of a skinny to oxer. The issue with the line (in addition to the blasted skinny) is that everyone wants to turn too soon and then the horses assume that they’re jumping the outside single vs the inside line which is not the normal diagonal line but off set so you go all the way around the corner and part way around the side before you turn.

So first time through, we started, and another pony was in hacking so I had a bad corner to my jump because she decided to be in her own world so I circled defensively and Ranger had an “oh shit, she means business” moment when I forced him through a tight turn and made him bend… Ha. Our inside single was perfect and then I forced him to stay OUT and wait for the skinny which in turn made the line an easy 6.

Ultimately, we put in all together. Down the inside single towards the in gate (check). Outside line in the going 6 (check). Awkward skinny inside like (check). Inside single away from in gate (check). Could not have ended with a better course.

The jumps may not have all been picture perfect throughout the lesson, but as my trainer said, it was some of the best riding I’ve ever done. I rode defensively most of the lesson because I needed to. If I gave anything away, Ranger ducked out. I had to ride to the base and over or else we were going around. Lol. When Ranger has energy, THIS is how he shows it. But, it was fun too and great for my confidence. A year ago, I wouldn’t have trusted myself that I was strong enough to ride him through everything. Last night? No issues.

Ranger Recap: no rest for the weary.

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Yesterday I dragged myself out to the barn for a lesson on Ranger. By dragged, I should probably say, swam. I swam out to the barn for a lesson on Ranger.

Thank you weather gods! I KNEW I was missing something in my life. RAIN! After all, it had been 3 ENTIRE days since our last round of monsoons so we certainly need more monsoons. By the time I made it from my car to the barn, I was wet, my hair was wet, and my saddle was wet. It’s not THAT far of a walk either…

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Not innocent… Mooching for treats.

We started off with what I thought was going to be a quick and easy warm up. A little bit of trotting, a couple of circles, etc. All WAS going well until I heard the dreaded words, “drop your irons.” OMG. I seriously avoid no stirrups. I do not participate in No Stirrups anything. And, in the 2+ years of riding with my trainer, I don’t think she’s actually asked me to drop my stirrups. Thankfully we started at a sitting trot (which is easier) but then I was to continue around posting. Damn. Of course, then I was told I was trotting too slowly. BUT BUT BUT. See, the slower I trot, the easier it is without stirrups. Counter argument from trainer: the faster you trot, the quicker you can have your stirrups back. In my defense, I kept my argument in my head. I compromised and trotting a tiny bit faster, but I didn’t want to lose my position. Unfortunately, we did the same the opposite direction, minus the sit trot. Evil. Positive? My position is evidently good. [I am NOT sharing that past trainers have told me I have a better position without stirrups…besides, this is no longer the case. I ride Batty without stirrups, but I haven’t been riding him and he’s a couch.]

Next we changed up our canter work a bit. Basically, normal canter around the ring with a large circle thrown in but each direction with ended with a hand gallop up the final long side ending in a half. This was actually A LOT of fun. Ranger was quite easy to get going (and pretty easy to halt), but more than that, the quick gallop really helped us out over fences later.

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This nose!

We warmed up on a circle over the second jump in our outside line (basically, we were jumping the in of the outside line off the right lead backwards). Our first and third circle were fine but I forgot to ride the second and had a crappy stop, but oh well?

Next we did the outside line in a forward 7. Thanks to the hand gallop, we were successful in one.

After our warm up fences, BFF Mikey left the ring and POWER Ranger (pun maybe intended?) came out to play. We started off with our inside single which we ran out of 2 or 3 times until I finally managed to steer with both hands AND my right leg to and then continued around to the inside line in 6. Whereas last week we had trouble with the in of the line, this week, we did not. I did have to hold a bit for the 6 (it should be a going 6, but honestly, if I added a tiny bit more leg, Ranger would be doing the 5 with the big horses… LOL). We continued back around to repeat the combo twice more before heading from the inside single to the outside single (towards the in gate) around to the outside line in the 7 then BACK to the inside line to the outside single away from in gate (we almost crashed into a dog) so we cantered around and did that again and then again did the weird random jump that’s sort of at the middle top of the ring (light blue in the graphic) around to the inside line ON. LAST. TIME. where we perfected our 6. We ended there.

 

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Tucked in for the night!

OMG. I’m pretty sure we jumped about 20+ jumps straight. I lost track. But we just got better and better and better. Made a mistake here and there, but we found a rhythm and went with it. Ranger was in front of my leg and forward and adjustable. And best of all? He was having a blast!

I can tell my endurance is getting better, but the best thing about jumping like this? I don’t have TIME to get stuck in my head. It’s too rapid fire. Just wait for next instruction and keep going. So strange, but sort of crazy fun.

And Ranger? He’s the best.

Ranger Recap: SO MUCH ENERGY

So I never recapped last week’s lesson and I’ll be honest, I can’t remember a lot… Oops. I meant to? And then life got in the way. If this BARN thing ever happens, I will write a series of blog post detailing EVERY. SINGLE. CRAZY. ISSUE. THAT. POSSIBLE. COULD. HAPPEN. DURING. THE. PROCESS. But, I’m not doing that until stuff happens because the last thing I need is more of a jinx. AHHH! (thank you michele for talking me off a ledge on a daily basis since thanksgiving)

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More muffins!

So Ranger was once again WINTER Ranger though it was comparatively warm. I learned last week that he’s not getting ridden much. I’m not sure WHAT that means. I know I’m riding him and I know his favorite little 8 year old kid is riding him. I don’t know who else. But, I’m wondering if I’ll get to pick up some extra rides throughout the winter? You never know…

Anyway, he’s regularly lazy and pokey and SO HARD TO BEND while flatting at the trot. We’ve been integrating a little more changes of direction into our warm up routine which does help, plus I’m getting a bit more aggressive–if I’m digging my heel into his stomach and he’s still not moving off my inside leg, he does get a small kick. Usually that helps. Oh Ranger. Things would be easier if you would listen… Thankfully we do bend better at the canter and fight less (with or without warm up).

We’ve been testing my lungs lately (not great for my asthma, but good for my endurance?) and right out of our canter, started over fences, integrating our outside single off the right lead a couple times. Then, changing directions, we hit that the other direction continuing around to the outside line, attempting (and failing) to do the line in a 7 (we were a little pokey and did an 8). On re-approach, I actually added leg coming in and the 7 was there. For some reason, inside I have a harder time judging speed and stride length. I can find my distances, that’s not the issue, but I can’t judge the length of stride?

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I’ll do anything for this face!

After finally allowing me to catch my breath, we started around over the inside single/Swedish oxer to inside line (going 6 which turned out to be a HOLDING 6)… So we started out with ducking to the right of the single where Ranger laughed at me but on redirect I somehow remembered how to ride (I might have been taking it too wide?) and then screwed up the next line. See, I landed in too quiet of a canter and was told I would never make the 6 with my canter. So I added leg. And then I turned (I think too early because I had to make the same mistake as last week…) and Ranger decided to grab the bit and try and bolt. So, once we were actually heading over the our jumps, I was basically doing everything in my power to add for the 6 while Ranger was trying to convince me to let him take a flyer and do a 5.  We added back in the outside line in the 7 and continued back to the inside line a few times. Then after the inside line which was never lovely, but successful-ish? we landed from our semi-6 and continued to the outside single (away from the in gate (so, slower) and then around to the inside single/Swedish oxer (other direction – sort of towards the in gate) trying not to let Ranger take off… We finished attempting to pretty up the last 2 fences and did so as well as possible (our last swedish oxer was actually nice).

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Cat wars continue at my house. Biscuit kicked off out the top shelf and downgraded by Lasagna to “steerage” 

It was a different lesson. It was probably the first time in a long time that I did all my over fences work in a concentrated time. Usually its a few fences and then break. This time it was just keep jumping. OMG. I felt OK, but my lungs did start arguing a bit, but nothing like a few weeks ago. My endurance is definitely getting better. But, I can tell Ranger is not working that much as he’s certainly opinionated. Lol. It’s fun though! Much better than summer Ranger where I can get a little too passive. I like having to be on my toes.

Ranger enjoyed Subi’s pumpkin molasses muffins in celebration/payment of hard work.

Ranger Recap: better late than never?

Considering I’m scheduled to ride tonight, I might as well get around to recapping last week’s lesson… A week later, I’m going to simply try and highlight the basics. I was trying to follow the philosophy of jump the first thing I see. It seems to work for me and my eye…

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Riding with leg AND hand: We started off with a skinny (wth is with all of these skinny fences lately?) in the center of the ring) parallel to the long sides of the arena. So, first a longer approach from the left lead (it was closer to one wall of the indoor than the other) than from the right lead. On the left lead it was easy as I’m just more comfortable on the left lead some days. To the right, steering to the base wasn’t the issue, but it took several attempts before I was able to canter out with the same canter as I approached with. Partially, I was terrified that we’d duck out, but mostly I was lazy in my approach and didn’t actually ride to the base and OVER the fence. Once I added leg and rode, it was fine. But, for some reason, I just faced a bit of insecurity and was riding with more hand than leg. Skinnies do that. But, I had Ranger off his front end so I really just needed leg… I eventually learned.

Do things right the first time/I love winter Ranger: Winter Ranger is in front of my leg and I LOVE IT! He’s forward and responsive. We started the next exercise which was the Swedish oxer (next to our skinny) on the right lead and then were to do the inside line in a 7. Oxer was fine, the inside line we did in a VERY long 6. I mostly just landed from the in and let him go. It was fine, but I probably could have helped for a nice 6. We redid that and the 6 was lovely. No point on collecting for a pony 7.

Plan ahead: Next we did this 3 jump course/bending line. Basically, outside single followed by the inside single boxes bending line to the double Xs. It’s hard to explain without media, but there was a small window to turn before you’d miss your chance to get to the jump. When you jumped the single, you’re pretty much facing the outside rail of the ring so you need to plan to turn in the space between the outside single and the Swedish oxer/skinny jump… But, for whatever reason, I could steer and Ranger jumped the snot out of all 3 fences.

Listen and STEER CORRECTLY: We finished up, or tried to, but doing the same 3 fences in the opposite direction. So, outside single heading away from the in gate, double Xs bending to the boxes. I jumped the single perfectly 3 times, but kept screwing up my approach to the double Xs. The first time Ranger noped out when I cut the corner. Then, misunderstanding what my trainer was telling me (turned too soon–>I interpreted as turn sooner), I made worse, and then even worse, until she changed her wording to stay out longer… By the 4 attempt, we stopped doing the outside single because trainer decided I didn’t need to keep jumping that one and couldn’t do it better (seriously). Once I stayed out, I actually saw the straight line (::head –>desk::) and the jump was easy and then Ranger overachieved, REALLY jumping the snot out of the last fence. I swear it took days for my back to feel normal.

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Regardless, Ranger is a saint. And, winter Ranger is SO MUCH FUN (yay for being in front of my leg!!!). Even if he hates to bend. But, I didn’t feel like focusing on out bending issues this post.

Ranger Recap: Cold. Air. Can’t. Breathe. Oxygen. Required.

We’ve been having some strange weather here lately. It’s been warm, it’s been cold, it’s been snowing, it’s been raining, the snow’s melted… Yeah. So, due to a crazy weird storm that mucked everything up, I didn’t ride Thursday and rode Sunday instead. Yay daylight! Except, it was super cold and we rode inside… It’s winter so I’m anticipating this becoming the norm for the next few months.

Anyway, it was nice and quiet when I arrived though Ranger’s OMG BEST FRIEND (this time, Texas) was in the ring so he stared in anxiously in love from the cross ties while I groomed and tacked up. Seriously, that horse is falls in love with any horse from his field. It’s crazy. He needs to get over himself… 

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Once in the ring, he was a gentleman. Me, however, struggle to keep him moving. He was poky and slow and my legs felt like lead. Ranger was stiff so that didn’t help. Eventually he loosened up enough that our circles resembled the appropriate shape. I realized though the lesson was going to be a struggle and breathing was difficult. Once we picked up the canter, we cantered, and cantered, and cantered, and cantered. Circling small circles on each end, focusing on where I was seated and the placement of my outside hand and shoulder. We found balance eventually and continued on. And then started on simple changes to find the right rhythm. Finally, after what felt like a half hour, we walked. And I started gasping for breath. 

Breath never returned and we started to jump working on a circle over a single, first on the left lead, then on the right. We did this about a half dozen times each way, mostly focusing on both the ride in and ride out–turning with 2 hand to the fence, turning in the air, making sure landed with pace and maintained a steady pace, etc. 

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Next we moved to our outside single around down the inside of the ring (long ride) to a Swedish oxer. First time through I was weak to the single (but made it work) and then over rode to the oxer.  Next time though I actually had pace and it worked). Then we did the same 2 and continued around to our inside line…

Success did not happen. 

So I came into the in lacking power, but to a nice spot. I added leg, Ranger extended really nicely and I found the distance. Except, I took my leg off and just assumed he’d cart my butt over. And he laughed in my face and said, “nope you idiot.” Having ridden outside most of the recent lesson, I’m used to wing standards and 10 foot wide jumps. Inside many of the jumps are not winged and the jumps are 8 foot wide. Add being passive…Fail. Advise? Ride the entire time. And start from the beginning. 

Gasping for breath (SERIOUSLY), I started over and the second attempt was MUCH better. Though the first jump was kind of a miss…

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At this point, I could barely breathe, so I had to do 3 more jumps before I could dismount. Outside single around to the outside line. I promptly missed some distances and had to continue around and repeat. I asked if I could circle before the outside the second time, was told no, things looked good/I was fine, so I continued made it over a gorgeous line and halted. The thing was, my issue wasn’t the line, but rather that at that point I flat out could NOT get oxygen into my lungs. I have NEVER not been able to breathe like that while riding. I eventually dismounted, still gasping for breath Ranger got the biggest hug for not dumping me. 

He had another lesson (a walk learning to trot lesson) so he cooled out while I tried to breathe/found my rescue inhaler (fail) and it wasn’t until steroids that night and sleep that I finally could breathe normally again. The ring was freshly watered and wasn’t dusty so I’m guessing it was the cold air? Needless to say, Ranger eventually got a huge amount of treats for taking care of me… 

Ranger Recap: Blame.

I want to start this post off by saying my lesson this week was everything last week was now. Incredible. Perfection.

But, it revealed some holes(?) in my past training that I want to talk a little bit about while also recapping my lesson.

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In one of her recent recaps, the everything pony talked about how old habits from old lessons and old trainers resurface during lessons with new trainers. Stuff that’s so ingrained that we don’t even think about it. It’s not necessarily the heels down or closed fingers or the mechanics of riding, but the mental stuff that sticks with you in ways you don’t realize until you are riding with someone new. Now, caveat, my trainer isn’t new, I’ve been riding with her consistently for 2.5+ years now and have taken a few lessons with her before then. But, I rode with my previous trainer for much longer, multiple times a week at times, plus I rode with other instructors at her barn, in her program. So, I was fully ingrained.

Last week, I had issues with the one stride. I didn’t steer aggressively. Then, I didn’t do enough to get us over the skinny. It didn’t take a lot to get over the 1 stride and after 2 attempts, we were over and had no issues. The skinny, I struggle with, despite my best attempts, I still AM 100% certain I WAS DOING SOMETHING WRONG and a better rider could have gotten Ranger over.

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Last night, we were warming up on the flat at the trot. It was windy, but warm so we were light on flat work. Trainer mention I need to work on bending him more (his nose wanted to point out despite my best effort). To the left, I managed to get him bending (holy crap, my inside leg was THROBBING), but to the right, nothing I did worked. “I have no right leg.” “It might not be your right leg. If he’s not listening, escalate. Kick him with your inside leg.” After kicking him, we did some circles and I got him bending better to the right (I struggled with our circle/pole exercise to the left, however, I misunderstood the point was to go OVER the pole the until I was halfway through the exercise to the left the first time, so… that was the bigger issue. Lol)

During our walk break, my trainer mention that an 8 year old has been riding him and causing his right drift. I brought up that I was taught to blame myself for all the issues and never blame my horse. My trainer flat out said that is bull and sometimes it is the horse. All of the issues last week were caused by right drift. Yes, I was passive, but, I rode straight to the jumps with equal leg pressure and normally that would have been enough. I did then share that I hate 1 strides (and bounces) and left to stew about dying… She agreed that I do better when I can just get my course and go so that lesson wasn’t the best fit for me. But, my riding wasn’t the entire problem. But, I take 100% of the blame when stuff goes wrong even when it may only be 50% my fault (or less or more). Much of this is because I don’t see myself as a competent rider. I need to work on that. But, it was a really good and necessary conversation that we had.

So, after this, we canter and I rode. First, supposedly, I picked up too much of a canter? Rare for me! But, I’ll take credit here. We were outside and it didn’t feel fast so I asked for more. But, with the wind, it was supposedly too much. And, Ranger was leaning in on the corners… I was told to halt and back, but as I asked for that canter, instead I just lifted and balanced and he came right back to me which made my trainer happy. To the right, the leaning was worse so I kicked which got him fast, but, he got off my leg which then allowed me to balance him. I did have issues keeping my right hand by his shoulder so I’ll work on that for next week…

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We started back and forth over the quarter line jump. Basically, working on straightness to it, even pace, and halting on the landing. Right lead was actually easy and I made the turn without issue (I struggle SO MUCH with that turn). Left lead we were able to canter a circle first to establish pace, then a slight steadying tug UP and again, all was good.

Next we came down our quarter line around to our outside single around to the inside single oxer. Once again, the quarter line was easy, the single was fine in that I rode to it and fit what I saw and wanted in to it. Now, the spot was our worst spot of the night but it was 100% adequate. It wasn’t a chip and it was completely deliberate, but it wasn’t as lovely as every other jump of the night. But, as I struggle SO MUCH with that jump, I’ll take it. After that jump, we headed towards the in gate where Ranger got a bit excited and thankfully I adjusted early and we nicely jumped that fence.

We ended with a course. Outside line in a 6, inside line in a 6, outside single, and inside oxer. Every. Single. Fence. Just. Happened. Perfectly. Seriously. I can’t even describe it. So, the inside like was a 5, but the 5 was there. We were going home, he was in front of my leg and it worked. Heading to the outside single, I felt the right drift early and was able to get him OFF my leg and move him over and finally nailed the distance I wanted. The outside line was nice, the oxer was lovely.

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Halloween for horses? 

My trainer thought it was a good idea to end while we were ahead. I agreed. I didn’t miss one distance and Ranger was perfection.