In which Miles earns December Board in 30 seconds…
Have I ever mentioned how much I love Thursdays? LOVE. Thursday is lesson day and I pretty much look forward to 7 pm from the time I wake up. So in usual fashion I bounded out to the barn, my upbeat attitude undeterred by traffic, rain and no sunlight.
The theme of the lesson was riding not only to the fence and over the fence, but also immediately after the fence. And that this should be done more from the rider’s leg, than hand. Our first exercise was to canter a single 2′ vertical and really focus on riding the canter after the fence; the group was split in half so the two rider who watched critiqued our rounds, which was really helpful.
After that, we immediately moved into course work. The ring was set-up for more jumper-style courses (I was the only hunter in attendance), but Miles can do bending lines too, so it worked out just fine. Our first time through the bending line was a bit sketchy, but we worked it out.
Then the fences were raised to probably 2’3″ and my first time around I simply didn’t have enough impulsion. Miles is great at standing around, but not keen on going back to work henceforth. So I’m still learning what works best for us. Note to self: when it’s my turn to jump around, I need extra time to walk, trot a circle slowly asking for give and bend, and then ask for the canter with enough track left to get the impulsion I need. Otherwise my round goes all to hell.
After watching the jumpers go around a bit, trainer starts raising the fences and asks if anyone wants to go again. I speak up and say I’d like to do one more… but she continues to raise the fences to probably 2’6″. We make a little hunter course, and off I go! Our very first 2’6″ course. I have to admit, going up to the first fence I was a little scared and nervous: it looked so big! But I pushed on and our first three fences were pretty good: I could feel that I wasn’t as balanced through my legs and core, but I didn’t get jumped out of the tack, I released well and followed the bigger motion through my body adequately.
And then we came up to the last fence. It was set on a slight diagonal, and if you jumped it exactly how it was set, you would actually run right into another jump, so you had to plan what angle to jump the fence at depending on where you wanted to go after the jump:
Most of the jumpers took the inside turn, but me being a hunter, I decided to take the outside track. So Miles and I cantered up to it, and I see a short spot. Except I don’t really commit to it and I don’t think I really told Miles the plan, so he went long. I was so totally unprepared that I didn’t two-point AT ALL, nor did I release AT ALL. So we come up on the other side (or rather, Miles does) and I’m so unbalanced that I am literally LAYING on his neck. And then out of the corner of my eye I see a flash of blue.
And I’m all “Oh fuck, we are going to run into that jump and I’m going to fall off and Miles is going to get hurt.” Because I’m stall LAYING ON HIS NECK.
But Miles just canters around the fence, and starts to turn the corner while I pick myself back up, and then he trotted all soft and slow when I finally had enough wherewithal to you know, steer again. What a saint.
After I caught my breath we came around to the final jump again and I had my shit more together, thank God, and it was very nice. Yay for our first 2’6″ course and yay for ponies who put up with amateur hour! Miles promptly got half a bag of peppermints and extra hay. Love him.