Sunday, March 14, 2010

So cool

Another post about a great lesson!  (Seems like it's one week on, one week off.  I hope the fact that today's lesson went so well doesn't mean that next week is going to be a complete disaster.)

Tucker hasn't been feeling great since he had his shots on Wednesday, but finally today he felt fantastic.  Back to his old self.  At the trot he was forward and straight and his lateral movements were really good.  I am learning how to correct him when he bulges through his outside shoulder instead of giving me a true bend, without making him stiffen off my outside rein (using my outside leg and seat and an elastic but steady contact).  I also seem to be figuring out what I need to do with my right hand -- though it is a constant struggle!  Old habits are so hard to break and I am constantly having to bring my elbow back to my side, but I do sense progress.  The only piece of the trot work I wasn't thrilled with was his collection tracking left.  His extensions are always beautiful and effortless in both directions.  To the right I am able to get a nice collection back to front after the extension.  To the left he resists and stiffens, and then comes above my hand to evade it.  I need to work on it some more and figure out what I do to the right that I'm not doing to the left, or vice versa. 

I was also very happy with his canter work today.  To start he felt like he wanted to lean against my hand and pull me out of the saddle but we did some counterbends and some circles over cavaletti and eventually he became more balanced.  Huge accomplishment -- I was able to come across the diagonal and get a soft, relaxed, clean lead change.  Only trouble is I have no idea what I did differently that time.  And of course, I missed three in a row (only got the front) once we started jumping, until he gave up (I actually heard him mutter "oh bother" under his breath) and just started landing right.  But the good news is that he has become so much less worried about them and I am at least getting them some of the time.

Onto the good part though... the gymnastic.  This was a very simple gymnastic, a 9 rail to a crossrail, one stride to another jump, then one stride to an oxer that grew, and grew, and grew.  In the middle of each one-stride there was a single rail on the ground so Tucker had to keep his canter consistent.  We started off with just two crossrails (no third jump), and I worked on keeping my upper body tall and my hands out in front of me (instead of burying my hand or leaning over my hand).  Then the crossrail became a vertical, and then we added a third fence, which started out as another vertical.  Then the vertical became an oxer, which went up to 3', and then went up to 3'6"!  (Which by the way looked absolutely HUGE and I can't believe that I ever competed at this height.) 

All I can tell you is that this horse has the best jump of any horse I've ever ridden -- hands down.  He uses his back so well, and he is relaxed while at the same time very powerful.  I've never before jumped a horse where you can actually feel the moment that they rock back onto their hind end and then power up off the ground, and then feel the energy flow forward underneath you from their tail to their ears -- just like it is supposed to feel.  All I had to do was push my heels down and grab mane.  We jumped it three times, and each one was better than the time before.  The only thought in my head as he was sailing over this fence was... this horse is so cool.

I was grinning ear-to-ear like a little kid as I cantered around the corner after the gymnastic each time.  I was feeling a little bit chicken about it at first but I am so glad I was able to ride through it and enjoy it.  I was on such a high afterward.  Jumping this horse, when it goes right, is just the best feeling in the world.


  1. when gymnastics goes right it is the best feeling ever! I totally can relate to not knowing sometimes why things work when they do. It seems like magic until we can figure it out right?

  2. Whats jumping? Pretty sure I have forgotten :)

  3. Awesome! There's nothing better than knowing you have the best horse in the world.

    PS You don't. I do, but Tucker is pretty awesome too.

  4. Lovely! I'm taking notes.

    Now that I'm flatting a hunter, and have no clue what I should be feeling up there, I'm going to pester you as well as Daisy and Molly for advice!

    Note to self: even if Mel disagrees, circling is good for rebalancing....


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