Lesson Night – The One(s) Where I Can’t See A Distance (again)

I owe you some posts, including a show post. But those picture have to be uploaded still so we’ll have to make due with a lesson post with old pictures.IMG_0032

Despite what the title of this post might imply, I’ve been having some really good lessons lately.

The unfortunate thing is my memory is crap so all the lessons have kind blended together. I should try to write things down as they happen. As I’m writing this I’m remembering that I did do a lesson post last week. Maybe I’m not as far behind as I thought. Sometimes you just have to shake your head at yourself… and then maybe go get a brain scan.

Let’s see.

Wednesday: I was supposed to have a lesson. Show prep was a necessity seeing as how we hadn’t really done a full hunter course in well over a week.

When I got on, Tucker was about a million miles behind my leg. The day had been warm. He was tired and sluggish. I spent about 30 minutes trying to get him moving forward. But I never really had much horse under me. On top of that G was late getting back from a meeting and got there 15 minutes later than we had planned.

I told him right away what I was feeling. We agreed to try a bit of a lesson to see if jumping a few things would perk him up.IMG_0031

We went back to jumping back and forth over the quarter line vertical. I’m still training my eye to look at the pole and not the ground. We jumped it about 4 times and hit all the distances.

Then we put together a course. Which I can’t for the life of me remember. But I do remember that it was good and G was quite impressed considering how tired Tuck was acting. The only thing that went wrong was one distance that I didn’t see and we ended up tight on the in of a line. Then I didn’t push quite enough and we got a gappy distance on the out.

Overall not bad. We decided to quite while we were ahead and planned to have another short lesson on Saturday.

Saturday: There were verticals set on both quarter lines. G had me circle first left rein and then right rein and jump each jump once. We ended up with one tight distance going left when I dropped my eye and forgot to ride.

Course: Right rein to quarter line vertical towards home (heading towards scary corner), long approach to diagonal oxer, outside 6 stride, diagonal 5 stride, outside 4 stride (heading towards scary corner).IMG_7568wm

Heading towards the first jump Tuck looked towards the scary corner and perked up, rocked back on his haunches and gave me the best jump of the day. We hit the distance perfectly and he gave a really nice bascule. G yelled out how nice it was to which I strongly agreed. Wait for the long oxer, don’t pick the distance to early, look at the top rail and then look to the right of the corner. I find that looking away from the direction we’re going to turn helps us not cut the corner and to get the lead change.

Build the rhythm slightly through the corner in order to make the correct striding through the line. Outside 6 stride and diagonal 5 stride jumped beautifully. Heading into the outside 4 stride again Tucks eyes locked on the scary corner and he perked up, rocked back and gave me the best line of the course. It felt awesome! Like I had all kinds of power under me and could ask for all kinds of crazy dressage movements if I wanted to. I was beaming. I wish I had pictures.

We called it quits in order to preserve his energy for the show Sunday.

Tuesday: I ended up having a semi-private with a younger rider that has started leasing and is going to be making a move up to 2’6″ next year. It ended up being a good learning opportunity for him as he has previously been riding in the lesson program with kids at his own level.

He’s quite a talented rider but making the switch from the lesson program to boarder/show lessons can be quite the jump that often highlights holes in a riders training.IMG_0092

We stared out by walking on a circle. G says that because Tucker is sooo lazy, it’s easier for him to trot than step out at the walk. Instead of squeezing so hard with my leg he wanted me to use my hips more (ouch! Need chiropractor stat!) and follow more with my elbow. Almost immediately Tuck gave me bigger strides. This is being added to our repertoire of things to work on. He then had us trot and canter on the circle.

Cantering in each direction on the circle he had us come off the circle and jump a vertical to the left and an oxer to the right. We had a bit of a launch over the oxer and pulled the back rail. G explained that happened because I didn’t get straight to the jump.

Course of singles: trot right rein away from home quarter line crossrail, halt on a straight line, cut inside of the first of the line and jump the oxer, circle, long approach to diagonal oxer, circle, first of the line, circle, jump out.

This was our best course of the night. After this I stopped seeing distances to a lot of the fences.IMG_0375

The next time through G had us do the exact same course but without the halt or the circles. I missed the lead change after the crossrail. G made me start again. He said that because it was a trot fence I didn’t build the rhythm enough after the jump for the lead change. Second time through was a bit of a struggle but we got it at the corner. Missed the distance on both oxers and the rode the line perfectly in 5 strides.

G wanted me to go back and fix the problems at the oxers so he had me do the first 3 jumps again. No problems at the first oxer but I dumped Tuck hard at the second. UGH!!! He made me come back around and fix it. This time I made sure to count in my head. One, two, one, two, one, two. Luckily the distance was just there and I didn’t have to move up or compress.IMG_5513

I’m getting really frustrated. For some reason I seem to be having trouble seeing the distance in enough time to do anything about it.

In other news, the no stirrup September has been almost a complete flop. Between show prep and showing I went a whole week without doing any. I’m still committed to the 15 minute goal but I think I’ll move my deadline to mid-October.

Do you know of any tricks for seeing distances better? HELP!?!?!

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15 Responses to Lesson Night – The One(s) Where I Can’t See A Distance (again)

  1. emma says:

    Sounds like a lot of mostly awesome lessons! Can’t wait to read about the show too!! I have no real hints about seeing a distance bc I struggle there too – tho my trainer is adamant that it’s more important to focus on the canter vs seeing a spot. He says if you have the “right” canter you can jump from anywhere. So… Yea not really an easy fix 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jackie V says:

    Don’t look for them? Ugh I am no help and I tend to panic when I see nothing. What helps me a little is just counting my rhythm – 1,2,1,2,1,2 – it gives me something to do besides panic and makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing. Also, this is such a horse nerd thing to do, but when I’m walking around like a normal human being, I look for distances to sidewalk cracks, lines in the carpet, etc and adjust myself. It’s just a good way for me to practice my eye without also having to practice placing a horse at a distance at the same time. Honestly tho, my go to method is kick and hold on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      Haha! I’ve actually tried not looking for them… it didn’t turn out so good. The counting sometimes works for me too. That is an excellent suggestion. I’m going to look for distances everywhere now!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the pic where you’re smiling over the fence! As far as distance goes- I recite “pace, track, balance, straight” and that sometimes helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      That was the last fence of a perfect course. I’m pretty sure it was one of the classes we ended up winning. Love that shot!
      Yes. Straightness is one that I’m finding helps a lot. I mean there’s do not much noodle straight and then there’s consciously straight.


  4. Tracy - Fly On Over says:

    I LOVE that first pic!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      Me too. That was last year after we sorted out our hack demons. The only thing I’d change is the car in the background. I wish all rings were situated for optimal photos.


  5. Stephanie says:

    I go through phases where I can’t see a distance to save my life. The only things that seems to fix it are a) having a great canter (as Emma pointed out) and b) jumping a TON. I have a worse time seeing them on Gina because I don’t jump her frequently; on Moe, I ALWAYS see a distance, and it is ALWAYS a long one.

    Horse & Hound summed it up in a jokey article written several years ago that I have printed out and hanging up at work: “Show jumps merely emphasize the fact that the eventer couldn’t see a stride if it were written on the grass in foot-high letter.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      That’s the problem. My canter is good. I just can’t see the distance until it’s to late to either move up or compress. And now I’ve started to dump him which is a new problem I never had before. Poor Tucker. On top of that I’ve lost commitment for the long spot now too. I’m a hot mess at the moment. Learning process=suck.


  6. Liz Stronach says:

    Ugh. I am guilty of always focussing on the distance so much that I panic when I don’t see it, because I worry about the ugly jump to come. When I focus on the quality of canter instead, and creating it from a lot of leg and a following hand, not only do my distances magically appear better, but I can always work a deep or long spot out if it happens, because I have enough engine and balance. I also focus on changing my track if I keep missing – holding out into the corner for an extra stride, or shaving it off a little, to see if that helps.

    As an aside, that top picture of you guys is just lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      Hm, something you said made a click in my brain… lets see if I can sort that out tonight. Positive thoughts!
      Thank you! That’s my favourite hack picture from last year.


  7. Karley says:

    row row row your boat….. Lol 😜

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: The Story So Far ~ One Year of Blogging! | The Story So Far

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