Wednesday, March 18, 2015

We Jumped!!!

But first, some more dressage.

Not the saddle of jumping.
I gave Maggie Wednesday off last week after our lesson on Tuesday, for a little physical and mental recovery. She worked HARD, sweated a lot, and I don't want to sour her to flatwork by drilling the same concepts again while she could potentially be tired and sore from the day before. Additionally, I think it helps to have a day off after a long, tough lesson because it also gives us both time to digest what we learned.  So I rode Thursday instead and kept it short and sweet (about 20 mins).

She was immediately better at the counter bending on a circle at the walk, even with my still-spotty aids. Trot counter bending was a little rougher this time though, but got a bit better as the ride went on. Overall, she was really good and was still trying hard even if I'm still not sure what exactly I'm doing. One thing I have found, is that she's instantly more responsive to my request to bend (particularly tracking right) when I remember to put more weight down and back on my inside seat bone (whoda thunk, right?). Literally though, her response to that aid is instant and it feels really cool!


Friday I gave her the day off again and then Saturday I made plans to ride with a barn mate and JUMP! The last time we jumped was...January 2nd, when we kept it simple and literally just cantered over a 18" raised cavalletti. Soooo...yeah, I guess it's been a little while.

I tried to warm her up on the flat with a little dressaging, but I was not very effective. It could have been due to several different factors: perhaps she was looking at the two jumps that we had set up and was all excited, perhaps it was the two other horses in the ring, or perhaps it was because I was riding in the Wintec. I like to blame it on the Wintec. Frankly, I don't feel effective in it though that's probably because I haven't ridden in it since January 2nd and it's quite a different feel from my dressage saddle. Someday I will have a beautiful leather jumping saddle...

Anyway, my friend and I just set up two jumps, one on each long side. One was a baby cross rail and the other was a strange looking mini Swedish oxer that was uneven in the center (this friend likes to set up creepy looking jumps). I pointed Maggie towards the cross rail at a trot first and she pricked her ears and over jumped it by about 2 feet to the entertainment of everyone in the ring watching. Then when I cantered her over it at the second pass, she literally squealed with joy as I turned her toward it.  What can I say - she gets excited.

Over the creepy jump.
Since she certainly seemed game enough for jumping, so then I decided to take her over the creepy looking little Swedish oxer thing. I admit, I thought she was going to spook at it. However, to my delight, I was very wrong. I had intended to trot her over it, but the instant I turned her toward it I could actually feel her lock on it and she picked up the canter on her own and carried us over. Normally, I don't encourage her to change gaits without me telling her to, but I didn't correct her this time because I was just so pleased to have felt her lock onto it and know that she was going to over it! THAT is the feeling I have been waiting for! We went over the creepy jump before putting the back pole up to it's proper position and creating a little 2'3" oxer. 

As we jumped some more I could actually relax a little and focus on myself, knowing that Maggie was in gear and wasn't going to refuse. I could feel myself have a decent position some of the time too! At least I know can tell the difference between the feel of a crap jumping position and a more decent and stable one.

Blurry, BUT MY LEG IS AT THE GIRTH AND MY HANDS ARE RELEASING!!! So much better than the previous pic.
Sunday was back to dressaging though and we had a fairly easy ride with another friend. Back in the dressage saddle, Maggie was more responsive to my aids again and did even better with walking in a circle counter bent. In my never ending quest to find a way to alleviate Maggie's mouthiness while under saddle, I decided to swap out her full-cheek snaffle for a loose-ring. Mostly, I was actually just curious if I could steer properly in the loose-ring since I had mainly used the full cheek when training her. She wen't totally normally despite the bit swap (including her usual bit chewing antics) so I'm pleased that she's not dependent on the full-cheek! I'll probably keep her in the loose-ring for dressage for a while, just because.

I guess one other thing that was notable about Sunday was that it freaking snowed again. Only 3 inches, but that 3 inches was just enough for Boston to break the record of snowiest winter EVER at 108.6 inches total. Hooray? Can we stop now? I didn't want my dressage saddle to get wet (not that it doesn't already have water spots on it) so I invented a new use for quarter sheets:

"This doesn't seem right..."


  1. When you say mouthiness under saddle, what do you mean? My mare can be VERY "chompy" on the bit when we're riding and it involves lots of nose scrunching and looks pretty ridiculous. Lately I've found that really making sure I have the turn of her head in whatever direction I'm going in stops all of that. Like instantly. I may have thought she was bent correctly, but if she is locked in the poll and I don't truly have the turn of her head, we have chomping. Ask for a little more bend to the inside, good bye chomping. Just thought I'd pass it along :)

    1. Dom what I can tell, she's just chewing the bit and messing around with it with her lips and tongue. I've noticed that her mouthiness increases when she seems frustrated or distracted or maybe confused about what I'm asking. I'm not big on blaming equipment for lack of training, but I'm always looking to make her as comfortable as possible so that she can relax when she decides too. I'm hoping that as we continue along with our training I'll get clearer and less confusing to her and the mouthiness will decrease. Hopefully al the bending and flexing work we're doing now will help!

  2. Love it when they lock on and take you to the jump!! :)

  3. I know I've said this before, but she is such a cute jumper!

  4. Such a cute jumper! So much fun to have a pony that loves to jump.

  5. yay for jumping all the weird and creepy jumps!!! and double yay for being able to see the ground (hopefully no more snow for you...)

    that feeling about her instant reaction to the inside weighted seat bone is really cool - and something i'm just starting to work on now too... amazing how making the slightest modification works so well!