As the week went on between my last lesson and my Feb 1 lesson, I kept remembering how well the line rode (tho still not perfect) when I sat up and back in between the fences. So, I made that my goal for this next lesson, with my leg, mentality, and all the other things I’d made a note of last time a priority for this one too.
This lesson this past Saturday has been the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I always have fun jumping, and this lesson was hard and challenging but I did it and it was an exercise I’ve always wanted to try but never had a horse that I could try it with. I love challenging exercises like this. When it comes to horses, sometimes just sending me out to do it where I have to be on the ball, think really fast, and feel my way through an exercise really makes me ride my best. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but for the most part I really love challenges like these. They’re like puzzles, and I love puzzles (I am such a Ravenclaw lol).
Genevive had three obstacles set up – a jump in the middle, and two cavaletti at either end of the arena. The jump started out as ground pole, and as always, Genevive had me start with pace, position, and track. Wyatt and I warmed up really well, and only did a bit of testing out the circles with the ground pole before Genevive made it into a crossrail and put the cavaletti at their max height.
Initially, we were supposed to start with a trot over the cavaletti then go naturally into the canter, and we did that once, and Wyatt just trotted easily over it lol. Try again, this time with a cluck and a bigger squeeze over the cavaletti, aaaaaand nothing lol. So Genevive had me give him a little tap with the whip and just go straight into the canter. We did one circuit around before capping off the ends with the cavaletti. We did the same to the right, and once we were keeping our pace, position and track, she had us start to the left with the cavaletti first and then on to the crossrail.
And I totally botched it lol. And yes, I got media of it – both helmet cam and ground video because my mom was there to video me haha.
I rode up to the crossrail, sitting, waiting, closed my leg thinking “support to the base” aaaaaand I had too much leg which made Wyatt take an absolute flyer lol. So then I figured I needed to get it together, left out the cavaletti and approached again. This time I had no leg, didn’t ride, and he fully felt that and we climbed over the jump. Same approach, but this time it felt different. The ground video doesn’t look bad, but you can see on the helmet cam how his head went down, we climbed over it again, and I had the distinct feeling that if he wasn’t such a brave, honest, saint of a horse he would’ve stopped. He’d never stopped at anything before, and that was when my brain decided to kick in. It gave me a really good talking to, basically shouting, “What the ever loving hell are you doing?! You know how to ride, and we’ll be damned if we teach this horse to stop. So get your act together, sit up, and ride!”
And, what do you know, it worked. I made the quick decision to put the cavaletti back in rotation, got that done, and rode like I meant it to the jump. I rode, I waited, I had leg on, and we popped over. He had the slightest hesitation, but I think my determination and support and not biffing the distance gave him more confidence, so our next approach went seamlessly. We finally got a break – Wyatt with many many pets – and discussed what had all happened during that, with the reminder of pace, pace, pace, then track lol. Once we’d had that, the position and distance worked itself out.
The right was better. I’d learned my lesson going to the left, so we had a much better go at that to the right. But, while my right leg had been amazing so far (it’s my weaker leg so I’ve been working on strengthening it), it was immediately apparent that my left leg was very blah and unhelpful this ride lol. Because the barn was to the left of us, he bulged left over the jump, which resulted in him switching leads over the fence. And because of my non-functioning left leg, I wasn’t stopping his shoulder from dropping left. Wyatt has very good changes, but I have yet to learn how to ask him for them, so we worked on simple changes. I decided not to fix my left leg that lesson for two reasons – one, I was finally getting the hang of the right amount of leg Wyatt needed before a jump. If I messed with my left leg, I didn’t want that to cause us to have more issues approaching that crossrail. Two, both Wyatt and I needed the practice with the simple changes.
We’d trot, go back into the correct canter, but I started biffing the cavaletti, and after about 3 times Genevive had me stop. I thought it was due to me seeing a half-step and my body going all wonky. But Genevive pointed out to me that once we trotted, I lost the pace, I lost my feel for the rhythm, and that’s why I kept throwing my shoulders too far forward, throwing Wyatt off as well. He was still a very good boy and jumped it, but I’d only get my pace back by the crossrail, when I needed it most in time for the cavaletti.
So she sent me out again. We hit the cavaletti well, got in great to the crossrail, switched, and I immediately did a simple change, kicked him back out to try for that pace again. We were a bit off of it, but it was a lot better, so I was able to make the better decision to just wait, make my body wait, and he chipped but the execution was much better. At one point, he was really losing steam coming off of the rail, so I gave him a tap and he took such offense to it LOL. You’ll catch it in the video but it was just so funny lol. We repeated that a few more times, and finally he didn’t swap over the crossrail! He held the lead for 3 jumps (cavaletti, crossrail, cavaletti), so G and I let him stretch down and go straight before walking.
We quit there, which I thought was a perfect way to end for both him and me. He’s still green when it comes to jumping, and since it’s been a struggle for him to hold leads, the fact that he did was a great place to stop. That, and he was tired and sooooooo sweaty lol! We were both tired actually haha. You can tell towards the end of the video, but we still got it done I think.
That definitely went down as my fav lesson in a long time. Aside from my momentary lapse of sane thought with the crossrail lol, it was such a great exercise and I think Wyatt was probably the perfect horse for me to learn it on, too. I left really excited for my next lesson, but I started my next class that Monday, and knew I’d need to wait a weekend before another lesson.
Since then tho, I kept thinking about the previous ride, when I finally sat up and back, and then this ride, how I was much more successful at doing that this lesson than before. Obvi I still biffed it a few times, but I started to realize that for the past few years in lessons that has always been an issue for me. I tend to crouch in two-point; whenever I’m English I’m always in two-point at the canter. I did that with Amber when I first had the jump saddle too. The only times I’ve sat were in my western and dressage saddles, which sit very differently from jump saddles.
And I had a bit of an epiphany. Almost immediately as I started drawing up a plan to practice going from two-point to sit on Amber (without losing forward), I immediately heard my brain yell “no! get off their back!”
Now it made so much sense! For four years in Hawaii when I rode the lesson pony Air Myles, my teacher would always always always tell me to get off of his back. I’d always sat for the canter before, but Myles didn’t like someone sitting on his back at the canter, so she’d always yell at me to get off his back if I sat for more than five strides. Even in flat classes I’d two-point. I’d never sit. Then we got Whisper, I did western, and my last real experiences with jumping were those lessons in Hawaii until the very few, very sparse lessons these past few years. I’m actually really really liking dressage now, because doing dressage with Amber has actually helped exponentially in making me aware of my shoulders, how I tend to tip forward and not sit, and it’s made me sit up and back.
So, now I can really work on teaching myself to go from two-point to sit up and back. I couldn’t completely fix the problem until I knew why I did it, and can now change my reaction.
Onward from my cerebral observations, I figured I’d do some small but targeted rides on Amber. Since her injection in her knee, she’s been feeling a lot better, so I plan to practice my two point and going from up to sitting back on her until my next lesson. It’ll mostly be fitness/learning rides for me, but I feel more okay doing that with her now that she’s better.
Unfortunately, the lady who owns Wyatt has a second horse that’s working better for her, so Wyatt will be headed for a new home soon and I won’t get to have anymore lessons with him. We’re not actually sure who I’ll ride for my next lesson, but we’ll figure it out lol. I’m disappointed because I felt like Wyatt and I were finally getting into a good groove together, but it happens. Riding different horses is one reason why I’m taking lessons and not just leasing or buying a horse. I’ve had a lot of experience riding plenty of different western horses, but I want more experience riding lots of different English horses too. Helps me know better what type of feel I’d like from horses I try in the future.
Either way, I’m still looking forward to my next lesson, whenever it is!