Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jump Lesson: Snapping Turtles and Rainbows

This lesson took place just over a month ago and I've been doing my best to hang on to the details despite not having written it down right away. This was our second lesson trucking out to New Trainer for jumping.

First off, as I was warming up I noticed a little movement in the corner of the arena so I rode over to investigate. Turns out it was a snapping turtle trying to lay eggs! According to the trainer they come up from the nearby marsh every year - apparently they love the arena sand. So how's that for an obstacle? Fortunately, it kept to itself!

So now to the actual lesson...

Once again, a big focus of this lesson was going forward. We spoke a little bit prior to actually starting the lesson about how Maggie gets distracted and "looky" in dressage sometimes. Trainer thinks that getting Maggie more forward will help with that in dressage, plus translate into jumping. So once again the answer to life's question is "forward", which surprises exactly no one.

We worked on the flat for a bit starting with getting her forward enough to actually step under herself and turning from the outside aids. This took a lot of leg. What we ended up working on for the rest of the lesson was getting her to respond better to my leg - we want an instantaneous reaction to adding leg, and no slowing down when the leg is removed. I've accidentally trained Maggie into thinking that she gets to slow down when my leg is removed and this shouldn't be the case. So Trainer had me take all leg off Maggie, then kick when I needed her to go more forward, but then immediately remove my leg instead of keeping it on her side and nagging her as I tend to do. Apply more leg only when she started to slow, which she obviously wanted to do at first.  I could use my crop to reinforce my leg when needed. It took a few big pony-kid kicks at first to get her to respond right away, since she's used to me leaving my leg on and nagging with it. Let me tell you, it was really hard to ride the canter with my lower leg fully off. Apparently I use it for balance. 

Next, I was told to get into two-point at the walk. In two-point my leg stays off her sides more naturally. I did upwards transitions from two-point which was somewhat difficult and practiced keeping leg off while maintaining a consistent pace, only using leg when I felt her slowing, and only using my body position (which turned out to be softening my lower back) to slow down. No rein allowed. I have a very driving seat as well, particularly at the canter, so Instructor had to keep telling me to soften my butt. Cantering in two-point helped Maggie get the hang of going a little more forward at the canter without my seat driving her constantly.

We finished up by trotting a small course that was already set up in the ring. I did the course in two-point the entire time and as Maggie naturally wanted to pick up the pace a few strides out from each jump, I worked on softening my back in order to keep her pace consistent but not lazy. This course also had us doing essentially a rollback to each jump that was next so another main focus of the exercise was turning from the outside aids.

It was sporadically sprinkling during our lesson and a lovely rainbow appeared as we were wrapping up and I untacked Maggie at the trailer. 

So yeah, not the most exciting lesson ever, but super relevant for me. I've been working on applying these concepts as I've been riding Maggie on my own over the past month. I still have a lot left to write about in order to catch up - I've have a third lesson with this trainer now! But first, there's a show recap to do! That'll be coming up soon!


  1. Turtle luv!!!! Yayyy! I swear that baby snapping turtles are the cutest of all: Loving the new look too (which is probably not that new, I'm just really slow...). :D

  2. um that's actually really interesting about riding exclusively in two-point! continuing the trend of us being pretty nearly the same rider (so it seems haha), i've been struggling with an overly driving seat and lower legs that want to stick into and jab my mare with every step.... hm ideas ideas !!!

  3. But really.. when is the answer NOT forward? Never. LOL