Saturday was an absolutely perfect day for a lesson. It got a bit warm, probably about 85 or so (I know it’s not that hot and it wasn’t haha), but was absolutely wonderful for an outdoor ride. I was on Rocky, and boy was he a LOVE on Saturday. He kept nuzzling me with his nose and his lip, so I completely indulged him with lots of face rubs and he was very happy. While Trainer G still said no spurs, I did get to change to a dressage whip, which made the lesson infinitely better, but Rocky was also a super guy and felt like he really liked me that day so that made it better too haha. Also, I figured we were only flatting, so I didn’t bring my helmet camera and what do you know, we jumped. And I really wish I’d had it because it was great!
Rocky and I warmed up, and while it took a few turns, a few taps of the dressage whip and he was moving out nicely in front of my leg. After being launched out of the saddle by the bouncy warmbloods, I needed a reminder to let myself only post to the movement, and Rocky and I settled better after that. It was certainly different riding him with his little trot steps, but I did feel more comfortable on him. He was also a lot more respectful this ride – when I’d put my leg on he’d actually listen and push into my outside rein. Then of course he’d attempt to bulge, so we flatted for a bit to work on that. We did a few turns down center line to control the body, switch directions and do it again.
She had an exercise set up – three angled poles and two jumps. It was an exercise that she did in the clinic the previous weekend, and it was really challenging but basically taught you itself. So if you missed it, you could tell. If you nailed it, you could tell. Initially, the jumps were just poles on the ground, but we worked for a while on track and pace in a circle for the 3 poles. When I got him slightly to the inside of the middle stripe, we’d nail the two steps in between the poles. The right was better than the left – to the left we’d get over the first two, then I’d let his shoulder bulge and we’d miss the striding to hit an off 3. But, once we had relative success with that circle, we moved on. So I started with my trot circle at a good pace, through the 3 poles, trotting over the “jump” pole, then picking up a canter, establishing a good canter with a good rhythm in a circle, then cantering down to the other “jump” pole. I worried less about striding this lesson, more about a good forward pace, and what do you know the poles came up pretty easily. We did that both directions before she made one jump a crossrail and another a small vertical.
The first time we attempted it Rocky was super asleep. He just about crashed over the crossrail and was completely out of it for the canter. So I gave him a good thwack, and he launched quite opinionatedly into a canter. I laughed, let him settle a bit before walking and we attempted it again. He thankfully didn’t hold a grudge, because I don’t want to make him mad when we’re jumping, but he did need a bit of a wake-up lol. So we tried it again, and he got into a very forward trot to the right. We nailed the 3 poles, and actually had a great trot jump over the crossrail. I wasn’t behind the movement and I wasn’t ahead of it this time either. A quick half halt, into the canter, and Rocky was very forward this time. We did our circle, with me getting him a little more bendy and supple, and then headed straight down the line to the yellow vertical. It came up very nicely, and Rocky is still a little green at jumping so I could feel him edge back just a little. But I actually saw a stride with him, knew with just a teensy bit of push we’d hit it super, so I closed my legs and kissed, and Rocky listened and picked it up just enough so we hit the vertical really well. My upper body felt pretty solid too – I didn’t throw my body forward to jump for him, and I didn’t overcompensate by sitting too far back. It just felt really successful. A quick simple lead change before preparing to keep him up and forward for a downward transition to a trot and then walk. He got lots of pats for that!
We had a quick walk break before attempting it to the left. I botched the 3 poles but quickly put that behind me and had a good shot to the yellow jump which had become a crossrail. It felt very successful again, and by this time I was understanding what parts of my leg Rocky responded to best, so we got a good, bendy circle before heading to the blue jump, which was now a vertical. Again, I felt that I could actually see a stride, kissed and tapped him up to it, and over we sailed. It felt really good, again like I just stayed right with him. It REALLY helped that when I encouraged him forward he responded well – he hadn’t last time I rode him, so it helped me feel confident this lesson that I could see it, ride it, he responded, and it felt super.
We did that exercise both ways a few more times, with the option to leave out the circle in between jumps. I did, and everything really just flowed super well with the jumps. Rocky got many many pats and “good boys”. With him I had to sit a little closer to the saddle, so that was a good lesson in holding myself above the saddle but not the forward 2 pt I’m used to. Our canter felt very good, and I really had no idea what time it was or how long we’d been riding, but I expressed to Trainer G that if we stopped there I’d be really happy. The exercises really worked and I felt really good about all of the jumping attempts, and there was no need to continue doing them when Rocky and I were doing so well. I get worse the more I drill, and Rocky didn’t need that either. Trainer G was in agreement, but wanted to do the 3 pole exercise to the left once more to get a really good one before we quit since that was my bad side haha. So we tried once more, and I totally botched it, so laughed and told G that hold up, one more time. She laughed too, but I got a good forward trot, really focused on blocking his right shoulder from poles 2-3, and we almost got 3, but he gave a big effort to correct mid-stride and we got the 2 from 1-2 and 2 from 2-3. It wasn’t smooth, but I was more concerned that we’d had a good pace, and we did complete the exercise correctly so I ended it there.
So it ended up being a really good lesson! I had a lot of good fun, and then had some time to relax before heading to a Halloween party later that night (which is where the pictures are from lol). All in all, a great Saturday!