Hump day jump day was totally on this week. Makes me super happy.
This week’s course featured a two stride, a five-stride bending line to a skinny, and an angled vertical to a right right turn. I’d been chatting with my assistant trainer about adjustability exercises, so Alana chatted with me beforehand about the first steps to adjustability: being ahead of the leg. Alana had me ride Murray right at the balance point where I could send him forward with just a little leg or cluck, and bring him back by straightening my shoulders. This was challenging, but Murray really surprised me by not motorcycling and dragging me around the turns when he was ahead of my leg like this, so I sent him and brought him back on every long side. We started out around 2’6″, and because one of the horses put three strides into the two stride, Alana challenged me to do the same. That was hard.
First, I balanced Murray up around the corner, and kept him forward but up approaching the jump. My plan was to get him deep to the first jump, jump it round (tough for me because it’s a vertical), then get deep to the second as well. The first time I tried, I didn’t commit to three strides and Murray just took a longish spot to the second fence. The second time, I asked for three strides after Murray had already taken a step from the first jump, and then when I didn’t think I’d make it just sent him for the two. Alana said he thought about it, but since I wasn’t committed he took a really long (and huge) spot to the second fence (I slipped my reins and apparently yelled “sorry buddy!” as we sailed over). The third time, we managed it, but it was a short third stride the guy stuck in. However, it’s the first step to being properly adjustable! I will have to practice this when I get back from Christmas. Alana put the fences up a little, and we jumped it all again, Murray as perfect as always.
Murray truly impressed me yesterday. I messed up that attempted three-stride, and he busted me out of it, and then coming around the corner to the red swedish oxer we were both very poorly organized. I couldn’t get my reins to their proper length so I just picked them up as best I could, and lifted my hands. Murray saw the jump coming and FLEW over it — crooked — and we still made the bend to the skinny.
This horse is truly turning into a point and shoot jumper. I am so incredibly proud of him. I seriously think the entire year we spent jumping 2’3″-2’6″ strengthened Murray enough that he’s really not worried about getting me out of a bad spot over a bigger fence now. Yet another argument for taking things slow.