The weather here in Georgia has been absolutely ridiculous the past couple of weeks! Every time I try to schedule a lesson, the sky opens up and our arena becomes an unrideable mess. Unfortunately, that trend is expected to continue this week with rain forecasted to last all week long. Sigh. It looks like I won’t be riding anytime soon.
I did, however, manage to sneak in a lesson while we had one rare sunny day and let me tell you guys, I had one of those holy grail lessons where everything just clicked! *insert happy dance here*
In the few lessons that I have had recently, we have really been working on creating and maintaining a soft, adjustable horse on course in addition to developing my feel for the type of ride Diesel needs. He requires a completely different ride than what I have ever been used to, so the learning curve has been a steep one. This is especially true when it comes to his jumping style and technique on course. His big, open stride has caused me to have to readjust my eye from the small, choppy strides I have been used to for so long, which has resulted in some trial and error distance wise. One thing I have noticed that I need to work on is my ability to commit to a distance and support him all the way to the base. I tend to throw my reins at him and have a Jesus take the wheel moment when I see a really bad distance or none at all rather than pick my hands up, sit up, and ride. It may not be a huge deal right now since the fences are so tiny, but once the fences become higher, I need to be able to give him the guidance and direction he needs.
I guess this all comes down to confidence for me rather than lack of knowledge. I mean, I KNOW that I need to land off of a jump, sit up, keep my contact, keep my leg on, and regain rhythm before the next jump in order to get the distance I need. My brain just decides to freeze up on me instead! I think I just need to remind my myself that asking Diesel to listen to me is not going to result in a baby horse tantrum like it used to. Diesel now understands what I’m asking him to do and wants me to take charge and give him directions. I just need to remember that!
In order to work on that, we kept the jumps at crossrails and spent the majority of the lesson working on jumping into the lines with an established, quiet canter, sitting back and waiting for the add stride, and halting at the end to get him soft and responsive – paying special attention to our rhythm and straightness. While halting after each line isn’t quite as fun as doing the whole course uninterrupted, it has been so, so, so useful for teaching Diesel to stay soft through the line and listen to my aids rather than just dragging me down the line and carrying me through the turn – especially when I need him to shorten his stride for the add.
The magic happened when we jumped into the inside line a little enthusiastically. Instead of panicking when I couldn’t see a distance, I just sat up, closed my leg, kept cmy contact, and fully committed to making the add stride happen no matter what. No collapsing my chest and dropping my reins at the base of the jump in fear of being unseated and no Jesus take the wheel maneuvers. And guess what? It totally worked out! After that, something just clicked inside my brain and I magically remembered how to ride for the distance I needed instead of what I saw. I totally had an “I’m the captain now” moment. 😂
Since we were doing so well over the crossrails, we finished up the lesson by moving the jumps up to verticals and doing the exact same thing: jumping into the lines with an established, quiet canter, sitting back and waiting for the add stride, and halting at the end. He definitely was a little more eager to get down the lines when he saw that the jumps were a little bigger, but we managed to hold it together and end on a high note. Overall, I was really pleased with how the whole lesson went. We had some really great moments and he behaved so well!
So tell me, how have your rides been lately? Have you had any light bulb moments? Let me know down in the comments!