Another weekend, another opportunity for SellerH to drag me out of my comfort zone for another adventure off property! This time we went south, to Tally Ho Farms, for a lesson with a local CCI* rider/trainer.
We started our lesson out at the trot, talking about the idea of rhythm (the consistency of the horse’s gait) and tempo (the speed of the horse’s gait). Our aim was to find a good rhythm for our horses. We control rhythm at the trot with our post, so TrainerMF encouraged me to stop fussing with my hands (guilty! LOL) and focus on keeping my shoulders even and my post steady without letting my hips get crooked.
Somehow it doesn’t matter how many different trainers tell me to stop worrying about where Raglan’s head is and focus on riding correctly until he settles in, I still keep trying to micromanage him. 🙄
Once we found our rhythm, TrainerMF had us come over a cavaletti set up in the middle of the arena while keeping the rhythm of our post. It was important to keep our eyes up and our body very straight. Rags hesitated slightly as he went over the pole the first couple of times (“wat is THAT?”), but we quickly moved on from figure eights to a couple of serpentine loops with cavaletti along them.
Something I found curious: SellerH and I were polar opposites for this exercise. Her rhythm was too soft, mine was too hard! She needed to focus on her front to back balance, and I needed to work on my left/right balance! It was kind of fun to see that our problem areas are so different.
For our transition into the canter we went back to figure eights with the cavaletti in the middle. We cued for the canter over the cavaletti. Raglan was such a star, he nailed almost all of his leads over the cavaletti—and the times he missed them were when I stopped keeping my body straight (go figure).
Then it was time for the main event: a little green cross rail!
I aimed my giant horse towards it and pushed my weight down into my heels. Raglan trotted up to it, glanced down slightly, and then jumped me right out of my tack. We’ve jumped over tiny things back at KW, but never like this—he used his body in a way that I haven’t really felt before. I kind of crashed straight into his neck (#totalprofessional), but because we stayed straight I was able to recover.
We fumbled our way over it a couple more times (including one where I lost an iron and pushed for the canter anyways, trainers love that no iron perseverance LOL), until TrainerMF had me two point my way over the cross rail and suddenly everything made sense. This is going to sound funny, but I’ve never really felt like I needed to actively two point before! Even when I took Belle the Pony over 2’6″ stuff I stayed in my half seat and then let the jump happen, I didn’t actively focus on going into a traditional two point.
It was definitely amateur hour on my part during our lesson, but I’m still super proud of myself! Before this lesson we’d never even cantered off property, let alone jumped. I think doing new things in a lesson setting was really good for me because I didn’t really have time to get anxious or overthink things.
My biggest takeaway from this lesson, though, was how ridiculously wonderful my horse is. Even when I kept biffing it over the cross rail he didn’t hold it against me. He never even considered stopping, despite me clinging to him like a flea as we approached the tiny jump. Raglan’s the perfect partner for me and I can’t wait to see where we’re at a couple of years from now.