Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Jumpa da jumps

I never seem to talk about jumping now that I'm showing in dressage.  If you were reading the blog, you'd think I never jump anymore and that my jumping saddle is just collecting dust.  Oh, contrare, mon frere.

My French is terrible.

On Tuesdays, we jump.  Some Tuesdays we do ground poles or whatever, depending on who else is in my lesson, but most of the time I share my lesson with someone that is specifically working to get her horse jumping consistently.  I don't jump outside of lessons since it's not a real focus for me and I'm usually not motivated enough to set up jumps on my own.  If something is set up, I might pop over it, but it's usually little cross rails left over from beginner lessons.  Our Tuesday lesson is the day when Trainer A sets up proper courses and/or grids for us to work on.

Since we don't compete over fences, we don't worry about height.  We pop around at 2'6" usually, enough to get him to actually jump but not enough to make either of us stress at all or add wear and tear to his body.  When Trainer A wants to get our attention, she'll pop them up to 3'.  Usually in a grid or if I'm not riding the way she knows I can.  Mi papi is a surprisingly natural jumper and 3' doesn't require that much effort from him.  If he had the heart for it, he'd be a Training level eventing prospect.  He's good with his knees and takes good care of himself.  3'3" would be quite comfortable for him.  Oh well, no point in pining over something he's not suited for.

Mi papi does not mind missing out on more fitness work

I do plan to do a two phase this fall after our dressage season is done, so part of our work is to get him more comfortable cantering down to a spooky fence without getting to inspect it first.  He used to be such a coward.  He's doing much better.  Our long term partnership and a lot of jumps together have given him some confidence.  After warming up outside, we headed indoors.  The deer flies and sun were just too vicious.  Trainer A had a variety of fences set up.  We warmed up over a cross rail, then went straight into a course at the canter without letting him really peek at anything.  I think he's more startled by the lack of peeking than the actual jumps right now.  He's so used to each jump being done alone and at the trot before adding everything together.  Poor papi, now he has to canter down to the fence and figure it out on the fly.

The variety of square and ascending oxers with different setups got his attention and sort of startled him, but it was the barrels surrounded by traffic cones that really boggled his brain.  His canter stride went from about 11 feet to 9 feet as soon as he realized I was aiming him at the thing.  His head cranked all the way up and I swear I saw sparks between the tips of his ears.  There was one stride where I thought he was going to quit on me.  We've been working so hard on me sitting the canter right up to the fence and it saved my bacon.  He sucked back, asked if I was sure, and my seat was right there saying 'jump it papi!'.  He jumped the damn thing with a foot to spare and almost gave me whiplash.  He was not letting those things touch his toes.

Trainer A was very, very pleased.  I used the same muscles I discovered in my hands free lesson to manage our canter to the fences.    It kept me out of his face and off of my spurs.  About half way through my lesson I keeled over his withers while holding my abs.  Owwwwww.

She kept yelling 'you have a big fancy dressage horse, ride like it!'.  And it's true, the beautiful, powerful canter I strive for in my test makes him infinitely adjustable.  It's still a fight to sit right to the base of a jump, especially when my stirrups are at a proper jumping length.  25 years of screaming to be light in the saddle when jumping make it a constant battle.  We had a hell of a time with distances during warm up but once we had the canter?  Butter.  Trainer A said she could hear the last three strides to every jump as I sat him down and made it happen.  Theo was right there, sitting on his D ring with a nice, soft hold and using himself very nicely.  He so loves jumping day.  His eyes are so soft after a good jumping lesson.

I love this whole ride off the seat thing.  My calves have much better things to be doing, like helping me turn or changing the bend or managing the occasional escaping rib cage.  On the flip side, I hurt.  I hurt so bad.  At the time I was only vaguely aware of my aching muscles.  In the moment, I was too busy getting the canter and getting to the jumps straight.  Now that I'm on the couch, I'm very aware that these muscles are new and not used to doing that for multiple jumping rounds.  I'm not looking forward to my flat lesson tomorrow.  No recovery time.  I guess I better cowboy up.

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully your flat lesson isn't too brutal on the sore muscles. Your jump lesson sounds like a fun one and Theo is really stepping up in your relationship.