Sunday, December 22, 2019

Muscle memory

I had a very big, important 'ah-ha!' moment today in my jumping lesson.  What was it?  I remembered something I was taught probably thirty years ago.  I remembered how to fold over a jump.

Sounds dumb, right?

I've been struggling since I got back into lessons to undo the training I picked up as an eventer that gave me a more open, defensive riding style.  Galloping down to a drop on a mare with questionable brakes taught me a lot about how to stay on top when things get a bit chaotic.

This is not equitating, but I lived to tell the tale

But I want to do equitation now and I'm riding a very, very different horse.  It's all about the pretty on my safe, lazy horse.

I've been struggling to close over fences and stay in my two point through gymnastics.  I can't seem to move in the right way.  In order to stay over the saddle I had to round my back on the way down from the apex of the jump.  That is kind of not the right thing.  Trainer D has been struggling with what words to use to make me move correctly.  It's such a split second thing and so nitpicky but I know it's important if I want to do equitation.  I'm in no danger of coming off or interfering, it just doesn't flow.

We're not polished, but we're getting in done in a safe way

I used to be able to flow.  Deep in the recesses of my mind is a rider that could cruise around a course of fences in a smooth way.  It took my eventing trainers years to beat that movement over a fence out of me.  It's not safe to close like that in cross country.  Now I'm trying to get it back.

Today I had to stop for a few minutes while a TB had a spaz.  I'm not big on wasting time in a lesson so we had a verbal discussion about what I was feeling and the mechanics.  Tiny minutiae that I damn well know most clients don't talk about.  I know my lower legs are swinging because my lower back is doing the wrong thing.  To which she said no, not your lower back, your hips.  I stopped, put my hand on my hip flexor, and said here?  She said yes and said I should feel the pull in my hips and hamstrings as I drop into my heels and fold.  I went back to the gymnastic and was hyper focused on my hips.  Heels down, legs still, feel it through the hips . . .

I botched fence one badly (my horse is a damn saint and didn't even notice) which set me up for muscle memory to take over while I was clinging to his mane with both hands.  It wasn't my eventing reflex that kicked in.  It was the older muscle memory that pushed my butt back and made my hip flexors burn as I properly closed over the second two fences in the gymnastic.  Trainer D suddenly started yelling 'yes, that!  Do that again!'.  I cantered around and went through again while thinking 'butt back' and sure enough, the back rounding suddenly disappeared. 

It's still in there

Then I stopped and jacked my stirrups up two more holes while she put the fences up another couple holes.  We both knew I'd managed to unlock something I was starting to think I'd lost forever.  I went into the grid again with my shorter stirrups and I could almost feel the neurons reconnecting.  My body KNOWS how to do this.  It's just been a very long time.  I went into the grid and with the shorter stirrups and bigger fences, I found my fold even easier.  It hurt like a sunovabitch but I found it.  Trainer D was delighted, I was ecstatic, Theo was stuffed full of cookies for being such a machine while I figured things out.

That is probably the last major piece I needed to get my jumping back in order.  Most of what I need is polish.  And pain killers.  Those muscles are not at all used to moving that way (and she had me doing posting trot without stirrups, wtf I'm too old for this crap).  I'm going to be very sore for awhile now that I have remembered how I'm supposed to be moving.

But I'm okay with being sore like this.  I got a bit of my h/j mojo back.

1 comment:

  1. Muscle memory is such a crazy concept! Glad that you found the magic combination and excited to see what you two do in the equitation next year