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.
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’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?
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.