This lesson on Jan 25 was good. I’m sure it had to do with my attitude/plan/better day, but we synced a lot more. In light of my last lesson, what Genevive said about wanting him to stretch down over the jump and that we were trying to teach him rhythm and consistency in pace to make him a good ride for his owner really stuck with me. I realized that I had been treating him like a jumper horse that last lesson – let’s go go go! – instead of what he REALLY was, which was a Hunter horse. Lightbulb turned on, thank you very much brain.
So for this lesson, I was determined, and had my points all thought out:
For this lesson, we tried Wyatt in a new bit. He’d never been ridden in it before, but I had a feeling he’d adjust just fine with him being a western-ish started horse. And true to form, when he kinked his neck all weird I just gave a soft bump and he immediately got the message. After that, I only had to massage my ring finger, and he was a good boy.
I still had my dressage whip, but I let Wyatt warm up easy. I mostly focused on my position, let him start out slow as he warmed up. Despite his lethargic start, he could immediately tell my leg was different, much more like Genevive rides him, and he could certainly tell the difference. Pretty soon I had him in a pretty nice, forward trot for him. He needed just the smallest tap, but for the most part was quite good about going forward when I’d squeeze and/or cluck.
Most of the ride I was laughing at myself because while I felt that last lesson I jumped better (read: stayed out of his way) and this one I flatted him way better than I jumped. That’s horses and learning tho, right? All in a day’s ride.
So I’ll skip to the fun jumping part since flatting mostly consisted of…well…flatting, and trotting over poles and counting and more practice on me grabbing mane. As he did in the first two lessons, before the jump he’d get squiggly, not wanting to straighten up out of the corner and go so we had some straightness issues. Those obviously knocked our striding off, but it was still a really good learning experience for both of us, and he was still an absolute saint in that he jumped every single time I asked him to. This lesson though was a good learning curve for me since I had had practically no leg on last lesson, and then coincidentally had too much leg this lesson haha. Yay learning lol.
I kept (appropriately) thinking LEG LEG LEG, just don’t forget your leg before the fence, he needs support. You know, all good things. Except, since we’d done very well together on the flat, he was a lot more attuned to my leg than I was expecting when we started to jump. Dude was such an awesome saint of a horse tho, because I kept biffing the distance. Not because I couldn’t see one but my brain was like “yes, we go to right here” and then my legs closed too hard, or didn’t close at all, so he’d go long or I’d bury him to the base of the trot crossrail. Oi. Brain and limbs – let’s actually communicate and do the same thing please!
So usually, our trot jump was just…bad, and then the five strides to the vertical came up okay. We were still long 90% of the time, but hey, this is how we learn lol. You’ll be able to see in the video, but it was a very easy exercise that was just really hard for us to nail. Despite being forward on the flat, and feeling him forward to the jump, it felt like he decided forward wasn’t a thing three trot steps out from the crossrail and our straightness would suffer which mucked up the rest of the line. Y’all know how it goes.
I finally gave him a good smack in between fences. We drifted right, but he powered better, which got us a better distance to our vertical. That time Genevive had raised the vertical, so when we really drifted right, he caught the rail and knocked it. But, was a good boy and tried extra hard the next time. The last time we went through was our best (naturally), but I’m always fine with that. Even if I have a lesson where I struggle, if I can get it once I like to end on that note. Having the good one be the last just really solidifies it in my mind. So Genevive put a trot pole about two steps out from the crossrail. This caught his attention, so he was looking at it instead of throwing his head up and wobbling, and I put my leg on a little too hard. He responded tho, tried a canter step but the pole made him trot, and then up and over the crossrail we went. I gave him a good kick, sat up and sat down, and the vertical came up in 5 lovely strides with no drift.
Which, you know, our last good one was the one that I finally figured out to sit up and back lol. Oh well. It still helped set the tone for the next lesson, so I was perfectly a-okay to quit there. Despite only getting the line once, this overall lesson was still much better than the last. I was a lot smoother to Wyatt with my aids, I had a different mindset coming in, and I know he appreciated that. I don’t generally worry about not getting an exercise as well as I’d want, mostly because as long as my overall mindset and way of riding is correct, I know that the exercises will get easier as I get more experience. Which is why, while I didn’t feel like I jumped as well this lesson, it still felt like a way better lesson than the last one because I was smoother and made sure I didn’t get as frustrated with him.
So, that was it for that successful lesson!