Monday, February 24, 2014

2.22.14 Lesson

Warmed up w.t.c, and a little dressage forward thinking.  Harley felt a little lazy under me, but obedient.  His transitions were a bit better than they've been, and other than not very well bent, we're doing well. need to keep working on exaggerating the bend in the warm up until he relaxes, ask and release, ask and release.    Canter down the long side was improved as well.  A little bit of "easing off the line", but not as much desire to break gait, either. 

Switched up the saddle, and rode ground poles through PC2.   All to get the pattern in my mind.  Then Ms N raised up both sides of the poles to about 18" high (I think).  Again, gosh, Harley was outstanding.  He rode everything like it was no big deal.  Super happy with that.  I was a little anxious/nervous/tense about the "circle at E to the jump at canter", because while the test says "large circle", and someone else may think that's a go-ahead to make it an oval, I rode a smaller circle (which is the only way to GET to the jump), and he took it perfectly.  Again, totally proud.

Right before the last jump, Ms N raised one side to 2'.  Harley acted like it was there, finally, with a good confident jump.  So she raised all of them to 2'.  Rather than ride the whole pattern of PC2, we only worked on the jumps. 

If I remember right, we trotted to one or two, without incident.    Then we cantered around to them, again, no incident.  He was waiting until the last second to jump, as evidenced by how it felt (canter, canter, canter, pause, push, jump), but he was over them all clean.  Not always pretty, but clean.

Ms N put a rail at the ground of one jump, and we hoped it would make him think a little ahead, and know when/where to plant his feet rather than right at the rail.  Epic Fail.  First try, he refused hard.  Ms N said that was because he was coming to it at the wrong stride, and not being sure if he should stick another stride in there, or reach hard, he stopped.  Easy enough.

I sent him to it again at canter.  Not pushing, I didn't tap him with the whip.   I just eased a little leg pressure on.  And jump he did.  Harley jumped it alright, plus another 2-2'6".  That makes for a 4'+ jump effort on his part, which launched me out of my saddle. 

We both landed with a thud, 3'+ away from it, and he took off at a hard gallop.  I tried to gain my balance, I tried to get sitting up tall again, then I saw the tree.  I was just starting to think "we need to turn, head out in to that grassy field over there, and he'll come back to me soon enough."  Instead, Harley turned sharp to the left, and I came off.

Not sure how I fell, but I can tell you where I landed.  Somewhere around the tree, near the pasture fence, and a combination of helmet, and shoulder.  The skidmark and bruise on my left upper arm says I either slid off the saddle, or hit the tree, and the pain in my face and right shoulder point to impact. 

I was checked on, Harley was caught, we both relaxed, and finished up the lesson at the walk. 

Take Home Homework:
Get a stirrup leather out , and get it around Harley's neck on jump day.  Positioned appropriately, that'll be my grab for those nervous moments, so I won't smack him in the face, or be pulled as far forward as I've started leaning.
Canter - to only small fences - little things if they're out by themselves.   On those canter-to's, start to count the stride before out loud "one, jump", then "two, one, jump", followed by obviously "three, two, one, jump".  Among other things, that will force me to breathe, and begin to count strides and see distances before a jump.
Trot - to all kinds of things.  Gymnastics with an X in front and another vertical or two - all good things.   Setting up the higher jumps inside a gymnastic line will "set the stride", getting Harley's rhythm all set, rather than him and me having to guess if we need more or less stride before. 
Work on the 18" verticals at trot and canter before the 3-8-14 PC test at the show.  {I've checked with the show team, and they say "no higher than 18".}

On the way home, R and I debated if I needed a dr check or not.  Not entirely sure if I crashed into the tree, or the fence, I recognized I needed a tetanus booster shot.  So off we went once back at home.  Xrays show slight separation between my right collar bone and shoulder.  But no broken bones, just a lot of banged-up bruising.  Today, I sport a small mark on my nose (helmet slid forward on impact, and whacked me pretty good), a HUGE bruise on my left arm, and a sore right shoulder. 

Time to replace the helmet, and back up some.  My courage outweighed my common sense Saturday.  Things were going so well, I really thought we could do it.  Harley over-reacted, and I wasn't ready to stick it.  I've got miles to go on improving my "legs fwd heels down" defensive position in the jump saddle.  MILES to go. 

Sure am blessed that I'm not more seriously hurt, and anxious to get back in the tack.

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