Lesson grid

I have pretty much no media from this weekend. Otherwise, though, it was a good weekend. We actually got snow on Friday. SNOW. Like wtf weather! We were only supposed to get a 45% chance of rain which basically means there was going to be no rain (for rain here it must be 60% or above usually). But noooo. It skipped the rain and went straight to snow. Which, coincidentally, we’re supposed to have a 60% chance of snow/rain tomorrow, too.

Thankfully, the few items I’ve bought in preparation for the winter that has just now visited us in February are finally coming in handy. The Ovation fleece griptech breeches have pretty much become a staple at the moment, and the thicker Pipers and Horze Grand Prix breeches have been good in the 45-50*+ weather. I also took advantage of RW’s president’s day sale and got a few things I’d been eyeing, a few things for fun, and another recent staple in the past few days – a really warm Ariat merino wool sweater that’s also on closeout for anyone who’d like to grab a lovely, warm sweater. And I’ll do a blog post on what I got because so far I’m liking it all!

Recently, as I’m sure you noticed from a few pictures, I put Amber back in a bit! It was just to test things out and to see how she was coming along. She was a little unsure at first, and not wanting to lift her back, but after a little time the lightbulb went back on and she was remembering what we’d been working on before all of her time off. She did seem a little hesitant to push into the bridle, which I completely understand, but I didn’t ask for much and it was a good day of walking. I could tell that she was happy we were actually doing something more than walking on a loose rein.

Pretty girl! ❤

Saturday I started off riding Whisper and then popped on Amber for a little bit, then drove to north town to have a lesson. While it was pretty simple, it was an absolutely perfect exercise for me. It was a simple 3 jump grid set 18′ apart as a pole exercise first and then pushed out to 24′ as she raised the jumps to 2′ or so. This exercise was great in that it was one jump right after the other, and really challenged me to better my position.

This lesson really felt like a breakthrough for me. I’ve been working on little things, and as much as I enjoyed a mini “course”, I felt again as though I had a lot of realizations in this lesson that are really going to help push me forward. Liam was an excellent guy through the lesson, and I was really pleased with how Liam and I are starting to speak to each other better, that I’m learning better about him and what he needs and vice versa. But to keep things short and sweet, I’ll outline the biggest takeaways I got from the lesson:

  • When I try to give over poles or a jump, I tilt my shoulders forward in an appearance of giving when my hands don’t move. I need to completely switch that and keep my shoulders forward and extend my elbows or arms. I was sort of successful at that.
  • When I feel insecure about the approach to a fence or pole because I feel I don’t have the stride count right, I pull. Well, who hasn’t heard of this one? Haha! The slightly bigger problem is that I bring my hands up to do so, and that really compromises my position over the fence.
So silly lol
  • Heels down. Also, everyone’s heard of this one, too. For me, my lower leg doesn’t scoot too far back so I don’t necessarily lose my lower leg. But because I’ve been really focusing on my dressage position for the time during shows, I got used to keeping my lower leg back so I could support my upper body and be in a great position for Amber (which worked for dressage work). But with jumping, I need to let that lower leg come forward. I need to tell myself that even if my stirrup slips back to jam those heels down and close those calves because when I actually did that my upper body took care of itself. My shoulders didn’t tilt and I felt secure enough to push my arms forward.
  • I also learned to start simultaneously getting ready to jump but pushing for a stride or popping in a half halt, and to utilize my leg and seat better because you know, you have to think about these things as you jump, haha. As stated in the previous bullet point, once I got my lower leg further under me, even squeezing to push was easier.
  • I’m used to multi-tasking, but welcome to SO MUCH MULTITASKING. It’ll take A LOT of practice, but I’m game to keep chipping away at it.
  • Trust your gut. One the last few passes that Liam and I made to the grid, he just felt very behind my leg and had a bit of head tossing in there. I didn’t think about it that succinctly at the time, but I just had this gut feeling that something was off. So I turned him away from the grid 2 or so strides out and asked Trainer G to hold on because it just didn’t feel right. And she completely agreed that it would not have been good had I actually decided to go. So I circled, got a good chance to get Liam forward, and we had absolutely no issue through the grid.
Vivid setting on my phone camera. Compared to a photo without a filter, this really brought out what her color actually looks like.

There were good challenges – like in learning how to utilize my leg in that the first one was a pole on the ground but still set at 24′, so I had to push to get the one stride before jumping 2, and then sit and wait on the last one since then we’d be motoring. Also, I got left behind badly one go through on the middle jump (poor guy was an absolute SAINT because I felt how hard I got him in his mouth), but I was actually able to catch up over the third one and still make it an okay go through. This lesson was just really great in focusing on my position over fences.

Ending the lesson we had 4 passes through the grid – 2 each direction and at a trot and the jumps back down to poles. This exercise was really good to reiterate Liam’s pace, and when he got a little speedy through it to do a half-halt, stay quiet, and keep his pace in mind. I was super tired after; mind blown! But in a very good way. I can’t wait for my next lesson; hopefully with scheduling and everything going on I’ll be able to do one this weekend but we’ll see.

Yeah, it’s been a bit colder here than the past few months….

Sunday I rode Amber and Whisper again, but I decided to switch it up. Amber did well the previous time I’d had her in a bit, so we tacked up English and I had my mom hop on her. Whisper is a hard horse to feel things on – it’s one of the reasons I started riding her English because there’s less leather in the way so we can feel each other better and communicate better. Amber is much easier to feel – she has a more forward walk and more animated movements, and everything you do has a reaction. So I challenged my mom to ride Amber – only at a walk – and to feel what she’s doing (i.e. when her left hind hits the ground and when her right one does, though one side at a time). Since Whisper has been benefitting from the hip in but still moving forward exercises I’ve been doing with her, I think it’ll really help my mom to feel it with Amber and then transfer that to Whisper.

The other thing I think will be great about my mom riding Amber is that if you don’t do it right, Amber won’t do it. Not out of spite by any means; she’s just used to me asking her, so if it isn’t quite how I ask, she draws a blank it’s a little wonky lol. Whisper is a better ammy horse in that regard, but I really think this will help my mom. Since it’s only at a walk, it’s not hard on Amber, and it’s a good place to start for my mom. Plus, I enjoy letting others enjoy my horse. She’ll never run off and is never mean under saddle, and she’s also a very very forgiving horse, so even if you both are struggling, she never holds it against you.

So this week, my mom and I officially switch horses so she has Amber and I have Whisper. Hopefully, the weather cooperates since it’s supposed to get windy later today, snow/rain tomorrow, and gusty winds again Thursday – Saturday. Well, I suppose we’ve escaped the weather Nov-Jan so it’s about time it’s all hitting us lol.

6 Comments on “Lesson grid

  1. Be happy you’re just getting cold and not the rain and flooding we have been seeing! haha. I really like grid exercises that let me focus on my position. Actually, the number one thing I set up at home in a trot pole about 6′ away from a vertical. Trot in, let her rock back, and jump! So helpful.

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  2. oh man i love grids so much, esp just simple straight forward one stride grids. they are always so instructive haha. sounds like a great lesson!

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  3. I love that you and your mom can swap horses to benefit you both as needed – that’s so cool!

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