Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Take the good with the bad...

So it was one of those "take the good with the bad" kind of weekends in terms of my rides.  On Friday night, I was sleep deprived and cranky from staying up late a few nights in a row for work, and I figured I'd just make it a nice quick hack.  I was trying really hard to leave him alone but it seemed his every day normal things were about to send me over the edge.  Somehow I made him start walking backwards before a canter transition.  Then I heard myself growl at him for bulging through his left shoulder.  Something he does, oh, just about every ride.  He cocked his head back and looked at me: "Um, what's your problem? We do this every day.  Just put your outside leg on.  Sheesh."  So, I quit for the night after about ten minutes and gave him a pat.  Not worth it, not fair to him. 

Saturday was a great ride.  He flatted really nicely, great working trot, we played around with our normal working frame and a more relaxed, lower, hunter frame (but still tracking up from behind) and we got two perfect lead changes.  I was able to come across the diagonal, hold him on the current lead but change the bend (a true counter-canter) and then ask him to change his lead with my new outside leg, which he did in a relaxed, fluid manner in both directions. 

Then Sunday, the lead changes were a disaster.  Alicia thinks he was just out partying too hard the night before with the boys (night turnout).  She may be right.  See Exhibit A, to your right.  The left to right lead change was good.  Then the right to left lead change he'd come across the diagonal with not quite enough canter, and then when I'd send him forward he'd just throw his head up in the air and lunge forward but only change the front.  When he inverts like that his hind end naturally falls out behind him and then we lose the connection and I can't get the change back to front. 

So we took a step back and did some simple changes, making him hold the current lead all the way across the diagonal and not try to change.  We did that until he was quietly holding the lead without trying to do the lead change before I asked.  Alicia's riding him tomorrow so she'll talk to him about it.

The jumping on Sunday, however, was excellent.  We worked entirely on my position over the fence, getting me to stay close to him and sink down in my heels when the distances were short instead of standing on my toes and getting ahead of him.  We also worked on me keeping my back straighter instead of rounding my back over top of the fence.  This keeps my upper body back a little more and actually gives me a very secure feeling over top of the jump.  I also then land with my weight in my heels and am able to sit up and balance around the turns sooner.  We still missed every lead change landing from the jumps but we were jumping on a circle and turning through the middle where the footing is a little deep in our big outdoor, so I'm not going to worry too much about it. 

The best part of the jumping was the simple fact that I was able to concentrate 100% on my position, and not think at all about having to make adjustments to Tucker.  I think that means he's becoming a packer!  A year or so ago, my position was always important because it affects the way he jumps, but it was never something I could concentrate on exclusively because I had to think about his straightness, his rhythm, his pace, collection, softness, etc.  Now, all that comes so naturally to him that I can just think about me.  (Don't I sound spoiled?)

I can't help wishing that we were nailing down these lead changes though.  I know I need to be patient and they will probably just work themselves out the more Tucker horse shows and jumps, but I really wish they'd get a little more consistent.  He feels like he's on the brink of them being automatic some days, and then other days it's like he has a mental block (or maybe I have a riding block?).  All in good time, I guess.  And take the good with the bad.  Right now there's a lot of good, so I can't do too much complaining.

4 comments:

  1. Yay! Gotta love excellent jumping! That's terrific that his rhythm, pace, etc. now comes naturally to Tucker. I suspect the lead changes will become natural, too. We have to have bad days to appreciate that good ones, right? :-)

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  2. Glad someone else had a challenging ride... sheesh.

    You and your packer. ;-)

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  3. But mommy, I is soooooo sleepy!!!!! Cutest picture EVER!!!!!!!

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  4. OMG That picture is adorable!!!!!

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