Perpetually Remedial

As I briefly mentioned in the Maiden Voyage post on Monday, Henry and I had another lesson this past weekend. My trainer is headed to Ocala for the next 6ish weeks (that bitch, I hope she gets a sunburn and some mosquito bites. I mean… uhh… good for her…) and I wanted to cram in one more torture session before she left, so I opted for a stadium lesson instead of an XC school. Of course, I brought my phone out to the ring with every intention of having her get some video but then I forgot to ask. Typical.

Here’s a picture from our last lesson. Learn to love it.

This was much like our last jumping lesson in December wherein she jacked up the fences and tried her hardest to help me figure out how my canter needs to get better as the jumps get bigger. In my defense, our arena at home is fairly small (soon to be expanded hopefully!) and it’s hard to practice the bigger more open canter that you need in the show ring, or string together a course of bigger fences, plus we don’t have a resident trainer, so pretty much the only time we really get to do this is at lessons and shows. Which don’t happen a lot, because it requires hauling out and driving a ways. I also seem fairly incompetent about being able to figure it out without assistance. You know what that makes me? Constantly, perpetually, and unfailingly remedial. I spend the first 75% of the lesson relearning my pace and getting that good canter back and then it’s like oooooh DING DING DING. Every. Single. Time.

I want every jump to feel like this

I’d be lying if I said it’s not frustrating. It’s REALLY freaking frustrating. Mostly because I feel like I should be doing better than this. I should be getting this faster and retaining it better. I’m in that really irksome phase where I know what I need to be doing but I just can’t seem to string it all together at the same time yet. If I had a dollar for every time Trainer said the words “wait” and “allow” my Coconino fund would be overflowing. Once I finally got Henry straight, with a nice forward canter, had that inside hind REALLY lifting and pushing, we cantered all the way down to the base of the 3’6″ oxer and Henry just rocketed off the ground like he had springs in his legs. He jumped the freaking snot out of that thing- it was probably the best effort I’ve ever felt from him. How many times was I able to duplicate that effort? A few. How many times did I actually string the whole course together without messing something up? Eh… once?

even Wofford is on to me

Part of it is my deeply ingrained love of the long spot. That just doesn’t work in eventing, or when the jumps get over 3′ in general, or with this horse especially. He loves long and flat. Unfortunately long and flat pulls rails. Getting him to not be long and flat is my job, and I’ve got to retrain myself to wait and go all the way to the base with power. When I see a half-stride distance my default is to either panic and gun it or pull like hell. Guess how well that turns out? Like shit. The base is my friend. I need to just sit up and close my leg, ride all the way up to it and get all up in it’s personal space. If anything, I need to be hunting for the chip like I’d hunt for real chips – with vigor and extreme enthusiasm.

But, ya know… I’m the only one that can fix my own problem. I’m tired of sucking at the same thing over and over, and I figure I can either whine about it or I can make a plan. So I’m going to haul out to my old jumper trainer’s place a couple hours away and fit in a few lessons while my eventing trainer is in Ocala. Old Jumper Trainer is magical and very well-versed in my neverending bullshit (he’s the one who once uttered the phrase “The only difference between a deep distance and a chip is what you do with your body”… see how long I’ve had this problem?). Maybe I’ll be slightly less shitty when Eventing Trainer gets back? Ha, optimism is cute.

30 thoughts on “Perpetually Remedial

  1. I second this sentiment. Trainer yells “WAIT” at me every. Single. Lesson. And also asks, “why did you do that???” a lot, referring to poorly-timed and badly executed half halts more often than not.


  2. I feel ya on the frustration – it’s like, whyyyy can’t I get this and why am I stupid? It’s very annoying, especially when riding in general is quite natural for me. Keep your head up – maybe it’s a full moon, but this too shall pass. Good luck at other jumper trainers!

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  3. I think this is the struggle of the amateur rider. Not always the same issue, but there’s something that we get yelled about every single lesson. Mine is leaning. I lean for the long one, and then we chip and it’s ugly. At least once per lesson, often more.


  4. I totally get this. And I think we all struggle with the “I’m doing the same thing over and over” feeling at some point. I do think it has to do with being comfortable with what you’re doing as well as just getting it. Having that aha moment. I applaud your dedication and just know we are going through the same thing over here in Idaho. Except with straightness. Over and over…


  5. This is EXACTLY what I’m dealing with right now—Atticus’ natural way of going is long/strung out. Putting his stride together with power from behind and then waiting to the base so he jumps up (instead of getting to the base and throwing up…) is pretty much what I work on every lesson.

    I’m in the same boat in the sense that I know what I should be doing but can’t get all the parts working in harmony—when I fix one thing, something else goes. Glad to know it’s not just me.


  6. I feel like the 9 foot placing pole in front of fences would help you work on this (not that you haven’t already thought of this or done it). For the horse or rider who insists on making up distances, that pole sorts some of the foot work out! Plus you can set it up at home! The repetition of getting to the base even in small spaces and on single fences will help. Btw, the gif you you jumping that ramp is so fucking amazing.


  7. “The only difference between a deep distance and a chip is what you do with your body”
    When you posted that the first time it stuck with me. I still think about it… I still miss distances.


  8. Commonly uttered phrases in my lessons in my former life where I had horses to actually ride: “Why?” “What were you thinking?” “Were you thinking?” “Can you give me any good reason for doing that?” “Did you really think that would work?”
    Usually in reference to things like, dropping my eye straight to the ground coming into a lead change, choosing spur life over leg life (that one got my spurs taken away for a month – super fun on a SPUR stop trained horse), or just generally getting lost. In the arena. Cause steering be hard.


  9. Welcome to the club! My trainer managed to remediate me from my love affair with the chip, and now she’s got to stop me from taking a flyer from a stride and a half away. And also keeping my pony’s hind end somewhat in line with his front end. And not sitting on the back of the saddle and driving with my seat for all I’m worth.

    It’s amazing we can get over any jumps at all, really.


  10. one of my trainers is very fond of saying ‘just canter the horse and jump the fence.’ ya know. oh so simple. ugh. idk why it’s so hard to find that perfect jumping canter on my own (esp when the fast-n-flat is so easy!)….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ok so I had this problem too, and here’s what I did, but I’m not sure you’ll like it. 1) I switched barns. The facilities at my old barn were holding me back, and it didn’t seem to be fair to myself to allow that to continue. The ground was either too hard from the cold winters or the dry summer, it was on a funky slope with weird soft spots and holes, and most of the horses were older schooling horses, so they didn’t jump higher than 2’6″. I had to make the choice to either never be able to practice jumping even a 3′ 8 fence course at home, or to move on. I chose to move on and have no regrets, though I still visit my old barn sometimes. They were excellent horsemen and women. 2) You have to imagine George Morris/Beezie Madden/someone who will beat you with a stick and feed you to the Germans is ALWAYS watching you ride. Sometimes it’s hard for me to care, and when I don’t care (i.e. The jumps are small) I mess up and yet I still don’t care. But I tell you what: if GM was there, I’d care a hell of a lot more and wouldn’t mess up in the first place. Im told perfect practice is the key to perfect execution, and this helps me keep that in mind when I’m feeling apathetic about a task. I hope this helps!!


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