Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lesson Recap: Inside Leg and Let Go

I'm trying to get as many jump lessons in as possible before the jump trainer heads down to Aiken for the winter. At that point we'll work on the fancy prancing all winter long for the most part.

It's just lovely here.
Lessoning with her is only being made possible at the moment thanks to having the opportunity to work off lessons by doing weekend chores every now and then. I am super thankful to have this opportunity because in all honesty I wouldn't be able to afford this lady otherwise.

Anywho, the lesson last Saturday. Most of it was spent on the flat, actually, as most lessons with this trainer have - and that's totally fine with me. As she's still getting to know me and Maggie I definitely don't expect to get to jumping right away during lessons. We're still in desperate need of some key flatwork before we can progress with actually jumping. Namely, pony needs to listen to my inside leg. 

And my outside leg.

Ok, so she needs to listen to my legs better in general, but we primarily focused on the inside leg during this lesson. The inside leg is the one that loosens the ribcage and moves the horse forward. Maggie is lazy and therefore she doesn't really want to move forward, which means ignoring my inside leg when it tells her to 'GO'. 

Please, can this be my leg?
Essentially, this is just a matter of practice, which I've said before. And I've been working on it, but still haven't done enough. We need to get to the point where Maggie responds instantaneously to my inside leg at the girth by moving forward. If she doesn't respond, squeeze harder. If she doesn't respond to squeezing harder. If she doesn't respond to a harder squeeze, tap with the crop. If she still ignores that, then give her a big 'ol Pony Club kick.

That responsiveness is the key to truly getting her forward and also balanced; we have to harness the energy as she steps under with her inside and capture it in the outside rein. This is called Dressage. 

It's not a novel idea. 

And since we're still working on perfecting this concept, it's why I'm totally fine with with spending three-quarters of a jumping lesson working on the flat. It's much easier said than done for us at this point.

Yes, Maggie, I would like to live here too.
When we did move on to some jumping, we did a small 6 jump course with everything set to about 2'. My task was to keep my inside leg on at the girth at all times and kick when I felt Maggie trying to get behind my leg, use the outside aids to turn around corners, and to keep my upper body relaxed. 

As I approached the first fence, I heard my trainer shout, "Chin up, let go, and leg on!" So I raised my chin, relaxed, and it was the most flowing course we have ever jumped. Everything came nicely out of stride. 

We pulled up and walked to the center of the ring to talk to her. She always says, "Now tell me about that" after we finish an exercise. I like that about her teaching, because it forces me to process what just happened instead of just continuing along and hoping that I understood what I just did. I told her that when she said 'let go' I relaxed my shoulders and elbows and allowed my arms to move with Maggie, instead of holding her back and then throwing my upper body up her neck to 'help' her jump. And it was because I relaxed and let go that we had such a nice flowing course.

She said that was the best she's ever seen the both of us jump. I didn't try to compensate for Maggie and Maggie rose to the occasion and balanced herself and also stayed in front of my leg. Trainer was so impressed that she raised all the jumps to a whole 2'6"! Woo!

We jumped the same course again and it wasn't quite as pretty - Maggie dropped back behind my leg at one point in particular back to the trot and I ended up circling before re-approaching the next fence - but we still had some really good efforts and Trainer was still very complimentary of the work we've been putting in. 

Super tired and sweaty. Listening to inside leg is HARD.
So I've got plenty of simple flatwork and low-jump homework to get me through the winter! I'm really looking forward to the day that this concept really clicks with Maggie. It's gonna be awesome. And what's also fun is that this is stuff I can work on in any saddle and in any position - 2-point included! I haven't posted at all about 2pointober yet here, but this is my first year participating and it's absolutely been beneficial. I hate to think of how sore I might have been after that lesson if I hadn't been working in 2-point at least once a week prior to it!


  1. Sounds like a great lesson - I love the way you describe your coach! And agree that the well established flat work is key to that 'flow' while jumping. Good luck w the homework.

  2. Inside leg, outside rein, elbows relaxed, heels down. I have to do all those better. If only I could do it all simultaneously! Your autumn pics are beautiful. Thank you from a SoCal drought, palm trees and succulents person. I miss fall.

  3. Inside leg, outside rein, elbows relaxed, heels down. I have to do all those better. If only I could do it all simultaneously! Your autumn pics are beautiful. Thank you from a SoCal drought, palm trees and succulents person. I miss fall.