I had my third jumping lesson in seven days today. It's mostly coincidence and the fact I had lessons to make up for with my trip. But it did the job in making me feel like I'm starting to get my jumping legs back. I know I'm getting there because the heating pad is back. My poor thighs and hips. My big old booty was up out of the saddle for about half of my lesson, including a solid five minutes of continuous work at the canter on a figure eight working on bending lines and changes of direction. Theo was all about it and, in the moment, we felt great. I actually had to halt him and set him back a bit since he was bidding to fences.
Now? Ow. Everything hurts. My left ankle is not enjoying my renewed interest in getting my heels down and using my ankles as shock absorbers. Is there any joint on that side of my body that actually works?
But Trainer A mentioned to the junior that shares my jumping lesson that things were going to be getting technical for awhile in our lessons. Theo and Catie need to work on the details that make rounds smooth and consistent as opposed to saying 'close enough'. To which the junior turned, looked at me, and said 'I thought you did dressage?'.
I do! But it appears I can't do anything half way. A couple of hunter classes at a local show has me training in a way that lays me up on the couch. And I have a dressage lesson tomorrow that will probably have me holding on to my poor aching abs as we work on getting some lift in the trot. Okay, a lot of lift at the trot. It's better, but he's not exactly floaty. We need to develop enough self carriage to hold a true bend in the shoulder in. Right now we can hold a consistent angle, but we need better bend through his rib cage and we won't get that until he's strong enough to pull some more weight off of his shoulders. And keep his impulsion while doing it. Second level is right there! So close I can almost touch it.
But we were talking about my jumping lessons.
The point is that I am incapable of just doing something half way. I am all in or nothing at all. I'm not happy unless I'm going out to shows with something worth showing off. I thought I could just flop around a hunter ring and giggle with my dressage pony but nope. I'm now doing sets of trot without stirrups and rounds of half seat in my warm up. Why exactly am I doing this? What does it matter? I'm not looking to rock the hunter world, I'll never do the A circuit again. It's some 2'6" hunters and adult eqs to work on our confidence and to have some fun. Most adults don't jump without stirrups ever, much less when it's not even their focus. I'm not sure if this is some sort of personality short coming or what. Trainer A has to keep reminding me that it's just for fun. FUN. Dressage can be where I'm a perfectionist, but the h/j stuff is just to give us some variety in life. Not that she's discouraging my efforts to improve, quite the contrary, but the dressage and hunter worlds are so different. Over focus on hunter stuff won't help my declared dressage goals.
It's going to be very interesting watching me try to make the two styles mesh after focusing so much on my dressage. It's certainly changed the way I jump. Theo and I took a crap distance to a vertical and pulled the rail. I got a firm, sharp reminder from Trainer A that I am a dressage rider, damn it, and I WILL half halt before a fence and not let my horse fall on his face and run to a crap distance. Which snapped me out of trying to perch and had me riding my horse up to a contact to the fence, which had us landing together and not in a heap, which gave us a lovely distance on the way out. Go figure.
What will I do when my renewed jumping training starts to interfere with my dressage position? I don't know. Right now Trainer A is nailing me when I perch and float the reins, so I'm thinking it's going to be 'dressage' position and 'universal' position as opposed to a stylish hunter position. Because she will not allow me to disconnect from his back. And frankly, after feeling what it's like to make a fine tune adjustment coming into a fence with instant, willing results? I don't want to go back to perch and pray, either.
Regardless of my inability to just do something for fun, the jumping really has helped with my ring sour pony. It's late January and we haven't ridden outside in months. I picked the reins back up after letting my classmate jump today and Theo actually jigged. Theo! The bum! I still have to give him the occasional boot to tell him to keep cantering, but when going through a line or a course he's usually sitting right there on the bit with his ears pricked. It translates to our dressage work because it's improving his fitness and his comfort with traveling that way. At the end of our lesson when we really had the engine running, he gave me a long side with this round, almost lofty canter that made Trainer A say 'wow'. He felt good and was powering along, almost playing with his front feet. I was focusing on keeping him together so he didn't get any ideas on letting out some playful bucks, but Trainer A said it was gorgeous.
Our trot may always suck, but by golly, we can canter. Maybe we'll do all right in the hunter ring.
Because I clearly can't just go in and have fun. Seriously, Catie. Stop it.