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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!
A Small Foray into Flying Changes

A Small Foray into Flying Changes

FORGET IT, THE RIGHT LEAD IS DUMB ANYWAYS, WE’LL JUST NOT DO IT.

I haven’t really been riding the past few days, but before I started my small break that was my general attitude, LOL. At some point I got so annoyed that I decided to see what happens when I pick up the left lead and then just switch directions. The result? Half of a flying change!

The next day, after consulting with some of my knowledgeable Instagram followers, I came out with a loose plan. I picked up a big, forward canter, aimed him towards a wall, and then, right when we were a couple strides away from smashing into it, I did a dramatic change of direction using my outside aids while shifting my weight extra hard. A couple of tries later and BAM! A full flying change!

Riding my first ever flying change made me think about where flying lead changes fit into training in general. In dressage flying changes are a third level movement, and for performance horses flying changes are one of the most advanced stages of their training. Strange that jumpers learn their flying changes so much earlier in their training than horses in other disciplines.

We probably won’t make these a consistent part of our training for a while, but I’m hoping to use some of the things I learned while dabbling in them to help me out whenever Raglan crossfires on the right lead.

The Old Stomping Grounds

The Old Stomping Grounds

Another Sunday and another adventure away from the barn with SellerH! This time we decided to haul out to the SEC to use their outdoor arena in hopes of getting some cute pictures of SellerH’s latest sales horse.

Unfortunately, the outdoor arenas were in super rough shapeβ€”lots of water and overgrown grass. Add in some huge gusts of wind and we ended up turning back and high-tailing it into one of the indoor arenas instead. Sadly, my indoor photography skills are pretty much zilch (I think I need a newer camera body that can shoot at a higher ISO), so that meant no fancy photos. πŸ˜•

Walking back to the indoor arena in the wind

Raglan was a handful when I lunged him before I loaded him onto the trailer (there were a couple of times where he took off and I went arena-skiing LOL), so I opted to put him on the lunge before I got on. He got a little wily, but eventually I realized that if I wanted to ride my horse I was going to have to bite the bullet and just get on him, even if he did have some gusto on the lunge line.

Raglan’s never been to the SEC. It’s a super busy facilityβ€”horses coming in and out of the arena, huge truck/trailer rigs pulling into the parking lot, dogs running and barking outside, and lots lots lots of wind. He’s not a particularly spooky horse, though. He was definitely taking in the sights and his feet got stuck in place a couple of times, but not to the point where I felt like he might do something naughty. As soon as I let myself relax he melted back into his regular chill, stretchy self.

The nice thing about Raglan is that he’s constantly pushing me outside my comfort zone, but not to the point where I get overly upset. The whole time I was riding he felt strangely light and powerful, but not malevolent or flighty. I don’t really feel like I’m learning anything unless I’m at the edge of my comfort zone, but it’s also easy for me to wring myself into an anxious mess, so Raglan is a perfect balance.

We stayed at the walk for the most part, with a little bit of trot here and there. If he’d been less ridiculous on the lunge line I might have done a few steps of cantering, but oh well, there will be other days!

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