Monday, March 18, 2013

Jumping Lesson #2

Despite the still healing injured finger, I finally decided I could bandage and splint it well enough to do another jumping lesson.

*actually, I am still fighting whatever infection decided to live in the incision but it's getting better.. one part is just healing very slowly as a result. Lots of Hydrogen peroxide flushes...

I was glad I went for a lesson because it was a total blast. I am not sure you can call it a jumping lesson because I am really not jumping anything of  any signifgant height.. just a little cross rail.
In my last lesson (my first) I was really struggling with my forward seat and finding the "sweet spot" of the forward seat. In today's lesson, I finally dialed in and started to find my long lost two point position. It made me remember how much I used to enjoy jumping... such a thrill, even if the jumps are teeny weeny right now..

We started out the lesson talking about contact. A trained hunter should travel long and low and effortlessly with light contact. A bit of a drape in the rein but not so much that you can't communicate with the horse via the reins either. When I ride Maggie this is always a goal but she gets so rushy that I often have to half halt alot. Fancy is happy to just stay at a steady even pace . This was such a breath of fresh air. Our other focus was working on getting a better feel for Fancy's speeds/gears and  how to ask for those.  My trainer had me work on extending Fancy's trot down the long side of the arena and then going into a sitting trot and "packaging" her up on the shorter sides. In other words, collecting her up. Fancy takes a ton  more leg to do this than Maggie requires so I was having to work pretty hard and again ,I kept anticipating Fancy to surge ahead with the added leg aids like Maggie does..

"Your not riding Maggie... Your not riding Maggie", was the reminder I had to keep mumbling to myself.

The goal of doing this sort of excercise in schooling on the flat should translate to the jump course. When actually riding through a course of fences the horse will have to understand how to lengthen or shorten   his/her stride between fences. Every jump course has a predetermined number of strides between fences and if you miss the mark, it can tend the mess up the rest of your course, causing penalties. In Fancy's case, she is on the smaller side and doesn't have a huge stride so it will be important to be able to lengthen that stride.

Fancy also has the loveliest rocking horse canter  (Imagine, a canter that isn't explosive and rushy.. another breathe of fresh air!)  but gets lazy in the corners so again, lots of leg there as well. I struggled with this more than anything because I had forgotten to bring my half chaps and was getting pinched.. I will remember next time..

I can't wait for next week's lesson.

Check out ths YouTube video link  of John French riding Rumba during the 2009 $100K Hunter Derby Finals.. It is so lovely to watch, it was worth sharing. This video is the ultimate in what  a good  show hunter horse/rider team should look like.
A few things to notice:

*Soft and fluid rider throughout entire course
*Rider has contact with his reins but is not interfering with the horse or getting in his way.
*John is up in his forward seat "ready" position . When he gets to a jump, he just tips forward a bit and the horse effortlessly jumps under him.  Some of these jumps are 4 feet.. Can you tell?? Not really..that is the whole idea.. effortlessness.
*Landing- The rider lands  into his leg , keeping a strong base as opposed to landing  into his hands and hitting the horse in the mouth.No balancing on the horses mouth here!
* Pace rarely changes- This is harder than John makes it look. Aside from the one jump that he is supposed to hand gallop up to, you could set a metronome to this horse's rhythymical stride.
*Riders cues are happening but often go unnoticed. Horse and rider look like a team, both are quiet, relaxed but there is definitley communication between them.

Ofcourse, this horse has a ton or training and worth beaucoup bucks but this video really shows the pretty hunter picture that hunter riders are striving to achieve.I could watch it over and over again!

I have definitely been bitten by the bug...


irish horse said...

This really sounds like a fun new adventure. Riding a different horse, trying to remember an old skill, very cool. That video was lovely, quite a nice partnership. He certainly made it look easy, when you know it is so very hard. That is talent.

Jonna said...

Hi- thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you enjoyed the video. He is an amazing rider for sure.I am very excited about the lessons and getting back to what I used to do so much of. Kinda feels like coming home and left me wondering why I gave it up in the first place! ( oh, yeah, I remember.. college, then getting career established.. )