Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Enamored, Part II

So on to the jumping portion of Sunday's lesson....

We started off with two small jumps on the outside, a vertical at the far end and an oxer at the near end.  They were set up as a six-stride line, and the exercise was to pick up my left lead canter in the corner, roll back down the quarter line and jump the vertical on an angle (landing right), then walk in the corner, pick up my canter again, roll back down the quarter line, and jump the oxer on an angle, landing left.  Walk, pick up my canter again, and repeat.  So it looked like this:


Once we did that smoothly (and Tucker was landing his leads), we eliminated the walk transition and kept going back and forth through this figure eight.  The goal was to keep the canter coming forward through the turns, and keep the same forward rhythm all the way to the jump, but still getting a relatively conservative distance since the jumps were small.  Tucker was very good through this exercise, listened well, and picked up on landing his leads very quickly.  I had to work on getting my eye on the next jump right away, keeping my arms soft and the canter moving forward around the turns.  A simple exercise, but challenging to get just right.

Then we did a little course.  It was the above outside line, vertical to oxer, in six strides, then cantering down the other quarter line (to the inside of the other outside line), rolling back through the middle of the ring to a single vertical on the diagonal, landing right, and then back down the outside line off the right lead, oxer to vertical.  Again I had to work on keeping the canter going forward through the left roll back.  The six stride outside line got a little easy for him when I jumped in with a medium distance, so I had to sit up and balance for six, which he did well. 

The next course started with a skinny jump, which was set up catty corner on the quarter line at the far end, turning left to the six stride on the outside, then the diagonal line, a flowing six strides, landing right, then walk, reverse, and back up the six stride diagonal.  The skinny jump was an exercise in straightness, so I got the canter coming forward down the long side of the ring, and then balanced and thought about both hands and both legs, and collected his stride to add a step, which Sarah said was a "good choice."  Then I landed, looked left, and turned to the six stride on the outside.  We jumped in a little quietly so I just softened a little and he rolled right down there in six.  Then to the diagonal line, I saw the long one and just softened my hand, but I needed to close my leg too, because he added another baby step in, and then we landed trotting (mildly embarrassing moment).  So Sarah had me just turn left and come back to it with more pace, and the six worked out just fine.  Then we walked at the end of the ring, reversed, picked up the canter again.  I tried to get the same forward rhythm again but didn't quite get it back, so we jumped in quietly (not a chip, just a little short).  But, since he's got such a big stride, I landed and let go and closed my leg and he made it down the six no problem.

For the next course, we used the other outside line, which had a liverpool in it.  Before we started the course, we made the liverpool tiny and I cantered him over it once.  He barely noticed it was there (such a brave horse!) so we put it back up to normal height and did our next course.  This one started with the skinny jump again, then left lead to the outside six, then the other outside triple off the left, which was a one-stride to a five stride (ending with the liverpool), then the diagonal six left to right, then right lead to the outside six, right lead to the outside triple, five strides to one stride.  The last time we jumped the skinny he went a little right, so I closed my right leg on takeoff and he landed much straighter.  Then we jumped in to the six just right, so I just had to stay tall and keep the canter together.  He got a little bit rushed through the one stride because the first fence, an oxer, had a little red wall under it that he overjumped a bit, but then he was very good through the five stride to the liverpool.  I kept him coming forward and got a much better distance to the six stride on the diagonal, and then the line rode just right for him.  He landed right, and I jumped in a little forward to the outside six so I had to balance a little stronger in the line, but he listened really well and collected his stride beautifully.  Then we went back up the triple, found the first fence right out of stride, although he drifted left slightly in the one stride.  He landed left and I asked him to change, but we missed it and had to catch up.

We walked and let him catch his breath and Sarah pointed out that I was breaking the course up into pieces too much instead of riding it all together.  I would jump a line, regroup/balance (slow down), then have to get my canter back for the next fence.  So, she told me to look for the next jump as soon as I land from the line and ride forward as though I'm going right to it, even if I have a long way to go in between.  I found this really helpful.  So, we did that whole last course again, and I worked on making it all one piece and looking for my next fence right away, which helped me remember to maintain the same rhythm all the way around.  This made everything so much smoother and we found all the jumps just perfectly.  I assume this is because Tucker had an easier time finding the jumps when I took care of the rhythm and didn't let the pace change anywhere (something I've been working towards).  And, he landed from the triple this time and got a really nice left to right change, so we ended on a very good note.

So, all in all, a really fun lesson.  Tucker was great, and behaved himself extremely well in a new place.  He jumped well, he listened, he worked hard, he focused.  All I could ask for from a horse!  I was so pleased with him. I couldn't stop thanking him when we were done, and telling him how happy he made me.  He seemed to know he did something right.  He was looking pretty proud of himself by the time I wrapped him and put him away for the night.  Every time I think I love this horse as much as I possibly could, I find a reason to love him just a little bit more.  He's amazing!

2 comments:

  1. Awww, they totally know when we are smitten and so proud of them. These babies aim to please..it sounds like you and Tucker are such a great team! :)

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  2. Sounds like a great lesson and glad to hear how proud of himself Tucker was. He should be he was such a good boy. I know what you mean, just when you think you couldn't possibly love them any more they do something so terrific you just can't help hugging and kissing them some more.

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