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Eighteen Inches is SO TALL

Eighteen Inches is SO TALL

It’s easy to underestimate 18″. For Raglan 18″ is nothing, but when you’re as short as I am 18″ comes up to right above your knee. It’s short enough to step over, but tall enough that it looks a little scary.

My nemesis, the OXER 😱😱😱

My lesson at THF came with the realization that Raglan jumps much differently than I’m used to. Back when we were playing around at KW I kept the jumps super low and he just cantered over them. Pump the jumps up a smidge higher and suddenly he’s actually using his back and my options are to find a two point or get knocked around out of my tackβ€”I can’t just half seat over the jumps anymore.

I definitely used my two point over fences on Belle, but I didn’t put a lot of thinking into it. With Belle I knew she always needed to be going faster, so I gave her a couple of kicks, focused on pushing my heels down, and then closed my hip over the jump. She’s so point and shoot that if we flubbed a distance it was okay because she jumped anyways and I could sort things out after we had landed. It was easy, natural. I didn’t have to think a lot about how my body was positioned because it felt instinctual.

It doesn’t feel instinctual with Raglan. I overthink it and I get nervous, then I pick on his face and he cruises to a stop because I’m telegraphing that I don’t want him to jump the fence. It’s nice because it means my pony’s calling me out for being ridiculous. It sucks because it makes me feel incompetent.

Raglan says we’re not jumping if his rider is going to be an incompetent pansy LOL

Jumping the cross rail at THF wasn’t scary, though. It was sloppy and disorganized (and I was thankful my giant young horse didn’t decide to dump me on the ground because it wasn’t like I was helping him out very much), but I didn’t feel like I was going to fall off. I just felt like my timing was super screwed up and I wasn’t using my body the way that I was supposed to be using my body.

Last Sunday SellerH and I met up to do some jumping together. We started out with a really fun exercise made out of canter poles and a cross rail that was SO. MUCH. FUN.

The 18″, on the other hand, wasn’t. Looking back I definitely needed to build up momentum and then push him up to it, but I was too nervous to do it, especially when I knew there was the oxer looming at the end of the line (even if I wasn’t planning on jumping it). We figured it out, but it shook me.

In the end I had SellerH take Ragan over the oxer for me so that he’d have a really good experience to end on. The first time he totally did the vertical and then checked out, didn’t realize the oxer was there, and slammed the brakes at the last second. He did fine with it the next time, though!

Jumping Raglan sort of feels like starting overβ€”like I’m learning how to jump for the first time! I knew we need to take a couple of steps back, so this Sunday I set up some easy cross rails and some canter poles to build my confidence back up again. It’s all about pushing my boundaries a little bit at the time.

The nice thing is that Raglan is such a good young horse! He never holds a grudge. Even when I completely mess him up and he stops at the jump because I chickened out, if I get myself together he forgets about my failures and jumps over it anyways. Not only that, but he’s only six years old, so even if it takes me a few years to get myself figured out he’s still going to be young and full of life.

Quarterly Goals: Spring 2017

Quarterly Goals: Spring 2017

════ WINTER WRAP UP ════

Work on Raglan’s right lead βœ“ It’s not 100% there, but the right lead is starting to happen!
Introduce more lateral work βœ— LOL NOPE. I probably should get on this at some point…
Incorporate more polesΒ β”… I did more, but I need to get back into the habit of using them every ride.
Trailer out to new places βœ“ SO MANY PLACES. EMR, SEC, and THF, plus the new barn (10M).
Start over cross railsΒ βœ“ Easy peasy. We’re capping off winter with our first couple of 18″ jumps.

No big purchases, work on debtΒ βœ— Remember when I bought myself a horse trailer for Christmas?
Grow the blog audienceΒ β”… I’m getting more views (and more Insta followers!), but it wasn’t intentional.
Dedicate myself to writing a novelΒ βœ— I ended up doing the opposite and am on a writing hiatus.

════ SPRING GOALS ════

Get comfortable jumping 18″
Go to a schooling show
Go for a trail ride
Put weight on Rags

Lesson Recap: First Time Jumping Off Property!

Lesson Recap: First Time Jumping Off Property!

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.

Don’t let the blue skies fool you, it was FREEZING

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. πŸ™„

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.

Supervising SellerH and her rambunctious mare

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 cavalettiβ€”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!

Giant horse makes tiny cross rail and tiny rider look EXTRA LITTLE

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 thisβ€”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.

Now it just needs to stop snowing so that we can do more stuff!

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