Lesson Recap 1/29 & big girl news

First the big girl news: I applied for my first adult job yesterday!  I had to write a cover letter and everything.  I revamped my CV into a resume (more challenging than you’d think, when you’ve been total CV-oriented for the last six years), got some references, and put in for a job where I’ll be able to stay at my current barn for at least a little while.  Boom!  Being an adult.

Now, lesson recap!

Had a great pre-show lesson Thursday morning, with yet another crazy twisty indoor course.  Show is on Sunday starting at 8 AM, and our barn is just doing jumper classes.  I’m going to start at 2’3″ and do 2’6″ and move up to 2’9″ if we’re feeling good.  Which, after today, seems likely.

1-29We started with a red vertical, which I’m so glad I can trust Murray to take at an angle because it was off a tough turn and I saw some rough rides to it in earlier lessons this week.  Rolled back to the sharkstooth and bending line in 7-8 to another vertical.  Another rollback to a one-stride, then all the way around the arena to the fan oxer and a normal oxer 6 strides later.

Murray was, of course, extremely honest, and very careful.  Out of many deep spots, he took down only one rail, and that one was actually with his hind end when I sat too soon.  I was still a little bit all over the place, but Alana put up my stirrups so that I could sink down into my ankles better and use my knee angle more appropriately.  This helped a bit, but I think the biggest part of me feeling “all over the place” has been that my form has deteriorated.  Previously, I had a really solid not-quite-half-seat where my heels were at the girth and my seat just barely brushed the saddle with each canter stride.  Now, when I try to approximate this seat my heels are a few inches back from the girth and I can get a little heavy in the saddle.  I obviously just need to practice this more.  Murray used to keep my honest by bolting and running out if I didn’t half this perfect half-half-seat, but now he’s honest enough that he’ll go even without.  Curse, you amazing pony!  I was also throwing my upper body over the jumps too readily, a problem that always seems to rear its ugly head when we move up.

Here’s a video, not my best riding.  Honestly, should really ride better at these heights (3’3″ on the fan and oxer), so I’m working on it.

Despite my whining, there was a lot to like about this lesson.  First of all, Murray jumps big and is totally honest and takes it all — long spots, deep spots, whatever.  We got rid of the seemingly “decreasing” step that I felt last week, and everything came to us in stride, even when we did take deep spots.  We only had one refusal, which was my fault, and otherwise I managed to stay out of his way.  Murray was uphill, forward, and responsive, and we took the twisty, turny course really well.  We also practiced including a jump-off course!  I’ve never ridden a jump-off, so I had no idea what to expect.  After my first round at 2’6″ I asked Alana for a jump-off and we threw together five more jumps that I managed to navigate to without losing any impulsion or attention from Murray.

It was also a fantastic lesson for confidence building — I love jumping big before a show.  Knowing that we can course 3′ and jump 3’3″ with room to spare really makes me feel good for our anticipated classes.

Moving forward, here’s what I will be working on with Murray and myself:
– slow my upper body and separate my arms from my upper body (i.e. autorelease without throwing myself at the jumps)
– sink deep into my heels and keep them at the girth
– set Murray up for the jumps and let him move to them
– grids and poles