This whole week turned out to be a cold but rain-free week here in Georgia. We took full advantage of the dry weather and had an absolute blast by fitting in three lessons this week! Yes, you read that right! We had THREE lessons this week!
Although I wasn’t quite jumping for joy at the thought of lessoning in the cold, I would definitely take cold over raining and day of the week! All of this rainy weather has had me down in the dumps and out of the saddle, which has definitely set us back a little bit in the whole scheme of things. Thinking on the goal I set for myself in my New Years post, I decided to try and get back in the game the best way I know how – taking lessons!
All three of our lessons this week had the same goal in mind: learn to be patient to the fences. That sounds like a really simple fix. I mean, I just need to sit back and wait, right? Well, yeah, but that’s super hard to do in practice – at least it is for me.
I have the tendency to collapse my chest and lean forward on the approach to fences, which then influences Dies to fall onto his forehand, get strung out, and causes us to turn a perfect distance into a disaster. He is so sensitive to my body cues that it it becomes like a domino effect of sorts. The more I lean forward, the more he falls onto his forehand, and the faster we get. That definitely isn’t a new concept to me, but for some reason, my body just doesn’t want to accept this as truth and just will not cooperate.
We started on the journey to eradicating this bad habit by first focusing on improving the quality of our canter because, like my trainer always says, jumping is just flatwork with obstacles.
One thing we did that I felt had a really seemed to help me most was playing around with how my position influences Dies’s canter by practicing shifting my weight to turn (rather than using just my leg and hand aids) on a figure eight. It sounds relatively easy, but let me tell you, it was a definite wake up call for me. It got my brain really working and actually made me start using my seat a little more rather than just becoming so dependent on my leg and hand aids. And guess what? It actually did help us to be more precise with our turns on course.
I do feel that we made some good progress concerning our canter! Is it perfect? Heck no it isn’t, but it definitely felt more in line with the type of canter we need over fences. He felt so light and adjustable rather than strung out and unorganised like we can be sometimes. It turns out that my trainer wasn’t kidding. Sitting up, adding more supporting leg, and bending my elbows while raising my hands slightly was the key all along. Who knew? 😅
While the leaning is not 100% better, it did improve a bit when we took a step back to work on that canter. I will say that it felt like I was sitting back a lot more than what it actually looks like in the videos. 😅 Sigh, at least it is a step in the right direction!