On Tuesdays, we jump. I share that lesson with the young lady working with a TB that has some over excitement issues when jumping. It's a pretty safe bet that I'll be jumping every time and I show up with my jump saddle like clock work. Sure enough, Trainer A was constructing an exercise for us while we warmed up our beasts.
My warm up has changed to something where we walk for the first 7 - 10 minutes, flexing in both directions and doing lateral work to get him stretched out and marching forward. It seems to be working to get him in the right frame of mind and gets his muscles warmed up so he isn't too terribly resistant when I tell him to carry himself and, oh, I don't know, bend.
Trainer A set up the ring like this:
I really need to get the tablet back up and running
Yay, figure 8s forever and ever.
First we trotted through the exercise with ground poles to get the idea of the exercise. Then we trotted through with the fences at 2'. Then we cantered through with the fences at around 2'6". Theo hasn't jumped in about two weeks so he was all about this exercise. I've also swapped to a small Prince of Wales spur after I found a rub on Theo from my longer, roller type spurs. I also took my spurs away last week to remind myself to keep control of my leg. Riders that don't have control over their legs don't get useful, helpful tools that make their horse go. Hopefully that reminder and the shorter spur will prevent any more rubs. The sharper feel of the PoW spur certainly keeps Theo up and in front of my leg, though he does throw in the occasional buck in protest.
There was no bucking today, just a lot of forward and locking onto fences. We haven't jumped outside of a grid in a long time so I was relieved to discover I haven't lost my ability to ride down to a single fence from an angle off of the wall. I think it was halfway through this exercise when Trainer A started to say 'shorten u -- never mind' that I realized that all of that grid work has completely changed the way we jump. I sit right to the base of the fence now and Theo comes out of the corners with his shoulders higher than his hips, sitting down in preparation for the question. His ears are pricked, his engine is engaged, and I can adjust his stride with a shift of weight or a half halt.
It's so weird to jump a course with my butt in the saddle, but I can't argue with the results. I'm certainly not getting in the way, judging by the way he jumps. He tried to take over at one point and I had to half halt him back to get his mind back on our game plan instead of barging about like a loon. Setting him up to land on the correct lead was the real challenge, particularly when he dislikes landing on his right lead. By the end we had it, swapping leads as needed through the exercise.
So for all of those years where I refused to believe the idea that jumping was just dressage with hops in the middle, I apologize to my poor, frustrated trainers of the past. I get it now. Perching and floating doesn't work as well as sitting down and managing the horse. It's just a hell of a lot harder to do.