Yeah, it does feel like we JUST did a clinic with Ashley. It was a little over a month ago actually, but the clinic was such a great success that Trainer brought her in again. Word on the street is that we’re going to try to bring her in on a pretty regular basis, which would be great. I think. My brain is still trying to reconcile everything that happened to it this weekend.
At the last clinic I took a private stadium lesson with Ashley on Friday and then let Trainer ride Henry in the clinic so she could get her “big jumps” post-baby balls back. This time it was all me in the clinic itself, starting with stadium on Saturday.
It’s no secret that stadium is our worst phase at the moment. As I’ve gotten better at the XC ride, I’ve gotten worse at the stadium ride, and I’m pretty sure I just live on the strugglebus right now. My eye has gotten a lot better, but my ability to be effective has gone on vacation somewhere and I dunno when it’s coming back. Soon, I hope. I miss it terribly. The horse needs a much better ride from me as the jumps go up, and right now he’s just not getting it. So I was 1 part excited for stadium day with Ashley, because she is the level of buttkicking that we really need, but also like 3 parts seriously dreading it, because I knew it would be tough. Especially when she started with “Okay, it’s off season! Time to get serious!”. Well shit, it felt pretty serious last time!
Some of the takeaways were the same as before, which isn’t surprising considering it’s only been a month. I really have to keep the POWER in his canter, and I have to do a better job of supporting him more with my leg and seat. My reaction time also has to be quicker, and my aids have to be more clear. Ashley said (and is 100% correct) that I suffer a little bit from paralysis up there… I tend to just sit and wait for it to be over, which is about as unhelpful as possible, and makes Henry end up really stuck in his lower back, therefore not good with his hind end. I really need to RIDE more, not be afraid to change the canter or the shape or the balance, not be afraid to move my body around and move his body around. I also need to be sure to really support him off the ground with my leg, pressing him up and across the fence. My patented maneuver is to abandon him and freeze up in the last stride, which again… about as unhelpful as possible.
I also need to get better about riding from my seat and leg FIRST, not my hand. She emphasized always PUSHING the horse forward into the whoa or the re-balance, and keeping them always connected in the outside rein. Like seriously, if I had a dollar for every time I heard the words “OUTSIDE REIN” and “KICK” all weekend, across all the lessons, I would be buying myself a pretty bangin Christmas present. Pulling on the inside rein and not using enough leg were common themes. We also practiced riding deep and powerful to low wide oxers to improve the horse’s shape across the fence.
Ashley said I really need someone around all the time to remind me to keep moving and changing things around, which I totally agree would help me a lot. Too bad I ride alone 99.9% of the time. Too bad I have literally 3 jumps in my field. Too bad I don’t jump very much in general. I’m going to sit down this week and re-examine my normal ride schedule and put more jump schools in there over the winter. Also gonna try to find some jumper classes over the next few months, so I can give myself some more practice in the ring. The horse doesn’t need it so much, but clearly I do. We’ll keep doing lessons whenever we can, too, obviously… I just continuously find myself wishing that I lived somewhere where all of this was a little easier and more convenient. Living is Austin isn’t helping my situation.
But at the end of the day, all of those things are just excuses, so I need to find a way to get it done anyway. I need to build some more jumps, fix my broken ones, and get creative with my schedule to make more jump schools and lessons possible. I need to focus more and I need to ride better. I owe it to my poor saintly horse, who is probably pretty tired of packing my paralyzed monkey ass around stadium. Guessing he’d appreciate a little help on my part.
However, I think the best part of Stadium Day was our potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Trainer’s husband fried up some turkeys and everyone brought sides to share. I ate so much that I kind of wanted to throw up, but I regret nothing because it was all so friggin good. Plus everything is better when you drown your feelings of inadequacy in gravy and stuff them inside of a dinner roll!