Omg, it’s a miracle, I actually had a jumping lesson. With courses and everything! I know, it’s rare. The local pony club was bringing my trainer in for a big lesson day and they were kind enough to tack me onto the beginning of their schedule. The arena was fantastic (great footing – so springy!) and I only had to drive an hour instead of the usual 2 hours. Total win/win that was much appreciated. Well, by me anyway. Henry was not as enthusiastic about his 5:30AM wakeup call.
The journey from my barn to the site of the lesson day was one I normally would cringe about making. I literally crossed diagonally from one side of Austin to the other, which meant mostly toll road and under-construction highway the whole way. Sunday morning at 6am is the only time I’d recommend that particular journey with a horse trailer… it was actually quite pleasant with very few other cars on the road. Any other time it would just be standstill traffic. Worked out for us!
The arena was set up with all of the exercises for the Pony Club kids, which also fit in pretty well with our agenda for Henry. Last week at MeadowCreek it became pretty clear that he’s got to take a little bit more responsibility for his own feet, and not be quite so reliant on me getting everything 100% perfect in order for him to jump clear. So we worked on getting his feet moving a little quicker, rocking back at the base, straightness, and on making changes by going forward. The jumps stayed small and the exercises themselves got more complicated.
It took several times through the bounce before Henry was really springing himself through it. He has this tendency to land and just stall out a bit, rather than rocking back on that big lard butt and pushing himself off again. Life is hard when you’re built downhill, man. I really had to think of coming FORWARD out of the corner and keep my leg very solidly ON the whole way through.
The straightness stuff was a bit easier for him, but still a great test of our accuracy. Those parts of the exercises almost had more of an XC type feel, jumping on an angle or off a very short track. It was a good test for me, the pilot. I quite liked the little “thread the needle” triple, with 3 jumps that didn’t line up, set one stride apart. There really was only ONE good line through there, which is also true of a lot of the combination questions we’re seeing on XC at Training. It’s important to pick the right line and never waiver from it.
My favorite exercise (the one in the video below) was jumping up through the center of the corner over the barrel as a skinny, two angled strides to the 3rd element of the “thread the needle triple”, around to the bounce, left rollback to the rail, back around and jumping down the triple, 3 forward strides to a vertical. It had a little bit of everything thrown into one mini-course, and Henry answered all the questions well.
It was a fun lesson, and definitely served to highlight the things we do well versus the things we still need to work on. Time to set some bounces back up at home! And uh… make sure we get more regular jumping lessons…