You probably didn’t know this about me, but I’m psychic. Like three days before my lesson with TrainerA on Thursday (two lessons in one week? CRAZY, I KNOW), I decided it would be fun to try to push Raglan’s trot out. EXTENSION RIGHT? But I put my leg in to send him forward and… nothing. Or he’d jump right into a canter instead of stretching himself out the correct way.
As much as I love our weekly jump sessions, it was definitely time for a good flat lesson. I told TrainerA that I wanted to work on skills that get us closer to smooth flying changes. After watching us warm up, she decided to focus on pushing Raglan’s butt further underneath himself by putting more power into his trot.
It didn’t matter what I did, though, Raglan wouldn’t stretch. Eventually he got fed up with my spurs and fake-spooked in disapproval. I rode through it, then dismounted and handed his reins over to TrainerA.
After TrainerA loosened him back out for me, I got back on and she coached me through finding his more powerful working trot. The solution, surprisingly enough, was to take my leg off. I was closing a part of my thigh that was preventing him from moving out properly. The moment I stopped gripping with my thigh/knee zone, he started offering more engagement.
TrainerA also had me riding with my hands wider apart to help stabilize the bit more and prevent Raglan’s head from wobbling around (a bad habit I’ve taught him, since I tend to seesaw when I get nervous).
We carried the same concepts over to the canter, where I quickly discovered that I need to be sitting more often (usually I ride in a half seat) and that his right lead canter needs some major work. He still feels fast and out of control to the right; it’s a symptom of him not being as lifted as he should be. We need to improve this before we go back to our flying changes!
I’ve got a lot of good flatwork stuff to work on now 👏
PRO TIP: If you’re the type of rider that gets a little nervous when you see an oxer, you should probably buy a horse that EATS OXERS FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH, AND DINNER.
An hour before my lesson yesterday, TrainerM and a crew of my lesson buddies gathered together to build up a jump shoot for Raglan—partially so that we could all oooh and aaah over his hops, but also to give Raglan another chance to navigate a grid without me mucking things up for him.
Needless to say, Raglan’s got some serious #scope. It was confidence-building to see how effortlessly he propelled himself over such a large oxer. It put into perspective just how easy he thinks our the tiny 2’3″ stuff is. TrainerM said we could have pushed the oxer up another foot and he barely would have noticed.
For our lesson TrainerM repurposed the chute into a cross rail-one stride-vertical-three stride-oxer line. Raglan was on point and I felt so strong, it was amazing. Even when things didn’t go entirely as planned, I had zero doubt that Raglan was going to do his job and get the line done. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel an inkling of fear—I FELT SO COMPETENT AND POWERFUL.
I can’t get over that feeling of freedom! UGH, THIS HORSE MAKES ME SO EXCITED.
This weekend I did some cost comparisons between horse shows in my area. The results? EXPENSIVE.
If I wanted to compete at a local eventing show, the weekend would come out to $520 after all of the memberships and fees were sorted out. A weekend at a C-rated Hunter/Jumper show would cost me $700, minimum. A USHJA “Outreach” show (the USHJA’s version of schooling shows) would be at least $370. That’s a lot of $$$ for a horse that may or may not show up with his game face on.
The hunter/jumper section of my lesson program is going through some major changes. Over the past month TrainerM has been slowly phasing out of her teaching position. She leaves for a family vacation in October, at which point LJO will be taking over all of her jumping students. TrainerM will still be around, but LJO will be spearheading the hunter/jumper piece of the R2R program. It’s a big change, but it’s also something that I’m very excited for! LJO is very involved in the local H/J community and she has big plans to help build my barn’s H/J team. I might finally get the big jumping family I’ve been hoping for!
LJO plans to take all of her students to the Burkwood series. The Burkwood shows run in mid November, late January, and early March. Stabling, schooling, and office fees for the weekend come to $125, plus $20 per class. It’ll be the perfect environment for Raglan’s first over fences classes!
I plan to play what classes we enter by ear. Hopefully all goes well and we can do the 18″ hunter division during the November show, the 0.65m (2’1″) division in January, and ultimately end the season competing at 0.70m (2’3″). I’d love LOVE LOVE to be able to take him into at least one Jumper Classic (and maybe even win some $$? long shot, but we’ll see!). As long as Raglan’s confidence keeps growing I’ll be ecstatic.
This winter will be our first real foray into competing over fences, and I can’t be more excited! There are so many doors that will be open to us when Raglan settles into his role as a show pony. 💗