Twice a week Tuck and I have lessons. We lesson with my friend C and the horse she leases and shows in the Children’s Training Division. She’s a lot younger and has been riding for a lot less time than me but I took a few years off and I’m a HUGE chicken and we both ride/show at 2’6″ so it’s a good match.
To be honest I wasn’t sure if I was going to lesson last night due to messing up my shoulder a week ago. For some reason the pain the last two days was worse than when I first hurt it. But when I asked the doctor if there was anything I should or should not be doing she didn’t say don’t ride… that I omitted the fact that I ride is besides the point. So I figured I’d give it a shot. I made sure to tell coach G that I was in pain and I think he took it a little easier on me.
We started warming up in one of the outdoor warm up rings that hasn’t had jumps set in it yet. We started by trotting a three loop serpentine and working on changing the bend. Then we moved to the canter, changing the bend through the centre and asking for flying lead changes. Lead changes give me some anxiety, especially switching from left to right (our bad way) which happened to be the one we started on. G kept yelling at me for getting them late. Sit up tall, change the bend, lay the new inside rein against his neck to push the shoulder over (leave it there until he swaps), leg. Sounds easy right. But for some reason I couldn’t get the lead until the bend for the next loop.
After that we moved into the main outdoor hunter ring which had a small course set. To start G had us canter around the ring to open up their strides. Then we moved onto our first exercise. Right rein trot into the cross-rail which had a pole in front of it. Usually we keep contact to the base making sure to keep their poll up. Yesterday G had us give with the rein a couple strides before the pole to allow them to pick their own way to the first jump. Canter away from the cross-rail with a tight left (towards the rail) roll back turn to the vertical in the 5 stride line to a tight right (towards the rail) roll back to the blue oxer, followed by another tight left turn to the rail. This was to work on what G calls fading to get the lead change. Stretch up tall, lay the inside rein against the neck, push them out with the inside leg and ask for the change. This keeps their shoulder out of the way allowing them to come forward with the hind end. It also has the added bonus of giving the extra space needed to keep a rhythm through what would otherwise be a too tight turn. We each did this exercise twice. Tucker and I nailed both, no evidence of the earlier issues with the lead changes.
Our second course consisted of the same exercise but going the other direction: trot left rein into the cross-rail, right roll back to the blue oxer, to left roll back to the vertical (in the 5 stride line). After that we cantered to the single diagonal oxer with a roll back inside the red diagonal vertical to the red oxer of the outside line, then to the outside 5 stride. Other than almost jumping the red vertical diagonal instead of the red oxer (oops! Must signal the bend better) we had a good course.
Next left canter to cross-rail, to yellow oxer bending line to blue oxer, to diagonal 5 stride, fishing with outside 4 stride. The third course did not go as well. Jumping the diagonal line away from home is slightly uphill and the 4 stride towards home is slightly down hill. I guess I forgot that or maybe I’m still trying to figure out where my outdoor stride is at. We ended up adding in the diagonal line and almost ate the out of the 4 stride. Oops! But the bending line was beautiful, smooth and flowy with a perfect 9 strides.
Our final course was right rein cross-rail, to diagonal line in 5, to diagonal yellow oxer bend to blue oxer, to outside 4 stride, finishing with outside 5 stride. Nailed it! The whole course was smooth, got every lead and every distance. The only critique G had was that I asked for too much on the short side which put us at a bit of a tighter spot on the in of the 4 stride. It worked out of though because I sat up through the line and fit the 4 in easily. If I had to pick one thing to critique it would be the out of the 5 stride diagonal line. We got the five but it was a bit of a long spot. Not oh my god long just could have been a tiny bit closer long.
So I made it through the lesson, sore shoulder and all. Nothing profound was learned but sometimes it’s nice to just have a good lesson where everything seems to fit into place. After the lesson we left the ring and hacked around the property to cool our ponies out. Good and WARM night. Yay for spring!
Takeaway: remember to breath.