Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2/28/10 Lesson

Warmed Ransom up quickly free lunge. Found him happily very soft & relaxed. I didn't waste much time, we were already running a little late.

Hopped in the saddle, and got a few minor corrections on position in two point. Shoulders not so bad, back keeps rounding, though. Concentrated on that a bit, and hopped through the trot poles. After one of the sets of trot poles, I picked up canter in the corner, and cantered around the rail outside the poles, broke to trot, and then the poles again. homework... trot poles, but canter some before & after. practice transitions at two point to avoid "hunching over" in my position as I ask for the canter.

Jen and I talked a bit about where to go from here in preparation for canter-to jumps. She set up four ground poles, a bit over 10ft apart. R came out with the camera, and shot that video I already posted, about four go-overs. With each canter through the poles, I got a little more relaxed. At one attempt, the second, I think.. I half-halted with some effort heading into them. Ransom stepped ON the pole, stumbled down to a trot, and then picked up canter midway through pole 2 & 3. Whatta horse.. Ya know?! I didn't realize he'd stepped on the ground pole until I saw the video later. Yikes! homework... leave the poles as-is. Canter through, trot through, with an extra trot stride in between each pole. Focus on release and relax... No half-halts before the canter poles - let him balance himself.

Then on to the crossrail. Enter at trot, depart at canter, settle back to trot. Rode this about four or five times, improved back & shoulders with each rail. I found myself staring blindly into space a few times.. I wasn't really looking down, I just wasn't looking anywhere. It's a by-product of my intense concentration. heels down, shoulders open, back stretched, head forward, squeeze... somewhere in there, my eyes go on vacation. homework, focus on continued trot-to's, but bigger release, back straight, and encourage energy in the departure.

A great lesson over all. Jam-packed with a variety of exercises, and plenty to work on. We've got two weeks until our next lesson opportunity, and I've got more than enough to practice & improve until then.


jill said...

Here are two things that really helped me. To help keep heels down, make sure you're not reaching for your stirrups. Try shortening them a hole and see if that helps keep your leg more stable as the horse jumps. It may or may not help you. Lots of folks try jumping with the stirrup just not quite short enough and it throws your base of support off and you lose your stirrups easier. Especially if you're also riding dressage. The difference in stirrup lengths can seem extreme or uncomfortable to shorten for jumping. I rode for a while with too long stirrups and all it took was a half hole adjustment to make a huge difference to me in my position.
Also, lots of posting trot without stirrups. This will strengthen your legs for jumping and two-point also. Start off going halfway round the arena and work yourself up to longer periods over time. My old instructor wouldn't let us jump as kids until we could post twice round the arena without stirrups. Said we wouldn't be strong enough to handle jumping without a strong base. I think she was right.
When I focus on eyes ahead, I think of it more like- how many strides til I hit my focal point? For instance, if I'm using a fence pole as my focal point, I count strides until I get to it, instead of just staring at it. Just keeps my mind working until I get there.
Thought maybe it might help you too.
Gosh, I hope that the suggestions didn't to come across wrong, just trying to help. You are working hard and just need the experience and miles to get the right timing over the jumps. I've been there, so I just want to let you know what helped me.

Jennifer said...

Jill - Thanks! Suggestions are appreciated, really.

Funny thing about trot without stirrups - if I do that, I automatically lengthen my legs back down to a dressage length. I've done a decent amount of stirrup-less work, at trot and at canter. In fact, before even reading this, I worked on sit-trot and canter without last night... dressage saddle, though. Felt like I was leaning on them too much, so I let 'em go.

Shortening stirrups is certainly an option. I noticed back a ride or three ago over fences, I whacked myself pretty hard on the pommel - shortened them one hole the next ride.

Still working on eyes... right now, it's focus on NOT staring at the jump or ground pole as I approach. I think the concept of "seeing the distance" is out in the future of my training yet.

You came across very eloquent & cheerful, and I thank you for that.

jill said...

You've got to post trot without stirrups in order for it to help cus it causes you to use different muscles than sitting or cantering. If you don't keep your heels down posting...well you get knocked around in uncomfortable places...atleast that's what happens to me...haha!
As for the eyes thing, I didn't mean looking for a distance, I meant just counting strides in my head until I stop the horse after the jump, not necessarily counting until the next jump. Sorry if that came across different. I understand that you're just getting going. I will come off the jump and then count 1-2,1-2 or 1,2,3-1,2,3(for a canter) until the horse halts while I'm look at whatever point I'm using to keep my eyes looking up and ahead.
Does that make more sense?
It keeps me from just staring out into space blankly, cus I'm thinking about something.