Hump Day Jump Day was cancelled in favor of pony play time and earthworks around the barn (though I did end up jumping that evening AND achieving my goal of trotting at least ten jumps), so I had my jump lesson on Thursday morning instead. Since we’ve been getting a lot of rain in California lately, all lessons have been moved to the indoor, which is both a blessing and a curse. Indoors we tend to work a lot more on skills — grids, timing, placement poles, etc. — because there isn’t as much space, but it’s really hard to course inside, as the arena is basically just a full size dressage court.
But whatever, we make it work.
This week we had a 4-jump line down one long side, set up as a one-stride, one-stride, two-stride, and then one jump across the diagonal and our quarter round down the other long side. If I thought I could draw it quickly in a graphics program, I would. But… I can’t.
Anyway, after warming up we went straight into the grid with some of the jumps pulled down. Because it’s down the long side of the arena, and only about 7-8 strides from the wall, all the horses have wanted to turn really early, so I worked hard getting Murray straight after the final jump. I also tend to push Murray left over jumps (over-strong right leg) so I kept my left leg firm to keep him straight. Unfortunately, those two things have somewhat opposite effects (left leg on for straightness –> turning right immediately after the last fence) but we got it.
Alana put all the jumps up, and we popped through several more times. The turn through the short side really made Murray want to pull down, so I will have to practice balanced, ahead-of-the leg circles and corners in the future. I also worked on keeping Murray ahead of my leg into the grid while packaging his canter so he wasn’t rushing. When he’s pulling, Murray feels astonishingly quick and out of control, but watching the video I can see that we really weren’t moving that quickly at all. M can be very challenging to ride when he knows the course (which he tends to learn within two rounds), because he thinks he knows exactly where we are going and how, and ignores my requests and suggestions on how we should approach things. So just more to practice.
I put together this video of the last time we did a couple of one-strides strung together, from back in July. There are a lot of changes from July to December!! Not only the height of the jumps, but Murray’s balance and impulsion as well.
In July I still rode around with pretty long reins and used speed to get Murray straight to the fences. In the beginning of the clip, you can see him pulling down as he almost always did back then (and still occasionally does now, but much less, as I am better at encouraging him to get his head up), although he lifts his head and focuses as we approach the line. In the second clip, Murray tapped the rail of the blue oxer with his hind feet because I got ahead — I drop my seat too quickly when I do that.
Overall, a really productive lesson and a good comparison of our improvement! This week we’re doing MORE grids, but they’re set up so you have to take them at an angle, from a rollback. Joy.