I’m on a roll lately with good weekends. As much as I love showing, it’s nice to have a summer break where I’m not out of town or totally tied up at a show for days at a time. It’s actually possible to do other things besides horses. Not that I actually do lots of other things, but in theory…
On Friday my haul of stuff from the fourth of July sales arrived – new anatomic girth and a big jar of cookies. I rode Henry after work (in his regular bridle instead of the Micklem and he was kind of awful – more about that on another day) then I went to happy hour with some old horsey friends of mine. It’s funny how none of the friendships I had from school actually lasted beyond that time, but I still keep in touch with a lot of the people I grew up riding with. Horses are the great unifier. That or we’re all just so weird that we only really get along with our own kind.
Saturday I went out and rode early, then stopped at the park on the way home to ride my cyclocross bike. I spent half an hour working on things that I actually DID need to practice, then I just got distracted going up and down this little “fish bowl” area because, well… it’s way more fun and obviously I’m 10 years old.
Then I dragged myself home to walk the dogs and do laundry and dishes, then parked in front of Netflix watching weird documentaries. I’ve been on a real kick with those lately. If you’re looking for something super depressing and awful, watch It’s a Girl. Also sad and depressing – Stuck. If you’re looking for something that will leave you saying “WTF what a bunch of idiots” watch The Imposter.
After SO got home from work we loaded up the beer and cider and headed back to the barn for a party. I’ve only been there a couple weeks so I still haven’t met a lot of people, or only met them in passing, so it was great to be able to actually get to know everyone a bit better. We had a lot of fun hanging out and swapping stories. Even SO had fun, and he usually just looks like a lost/sad/bored puppy at anything horse related.
Sunday morning I was back out at 7:30 for my first lesson with the new trainer. I will say, I had several lightbulb moments. He was on several of my old will-not-die habits right away, and helped me think about them a little differently. For instance, I love to lean. I’m a hunchback, my upper body has a mind of it’s own, always has. He suggested that I instead think about posting with my hips going UP instead of forward, and slow the rhythm of the post. That helped keep my shoulders up and open, which helped lengthen Henry’s stride without it getting quick.
After some flatwork we started jumping, first trotting and then cantering a little skinny vertical. After a few times over he asked me where I’m looking as I approach the jump. I know where I should be looking, but honestly I couldn’t answer about where I actually WAS looking. He said that sometimes I was looking at the ground pole, sometimes I was looking at the corner, but rarely was I actually looking at the middle of the top rail of the jump. He said it would make my ride and my distance more consistent and my horse more confident and he was right – it did.
We moved on to a few jumps in succession on kind of a circle. After the first time around he suggested that with this horse I try coming out of the corner with a bolder canter – a very slight move-up and more forward ride. This made a really big difference, especially if the spot came up a bit deep. Instead of landing and stalling out a bit, Henry landed still moving forward and everything just rode a lot better in general when we carried more pace to the fence. Not a heavy in my hand pace, but pushing him UP into my hand pace. My takeaway was that if I’m creating power TO the jump, the jump will have power no matter the distance. If I’m decreasing power or just maintaining, a bad distance will be much more likely to result in a rail. This horse is one that needs a little help in creating and keeping the power in his canter, and jumps better from a bolder canter.
He also latched right on to my worst habit that I have never really been able to get rid of, much to the chagrin of a previous trainer – I always turn my head in the air. It’s like the damn thing is on a swivel, I can’t keep it straight for the life of me. Ugh. But at least now someone is yelling at me about it again so maybe I can get it back under control.
I spent Sunday afternoon watching copious amounts of Harry Potter (#PotterheadWeekend, woot!) while wearing my Lion King shirt. Because Hakuna Matata. And like I said, I’m 10.
I also used Henry’s new girth this weekend and have been pretty pleased with it. Will do a review after a few weeks but so far it’s working great.
Hope everyone else had a great weekend as well!