Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My horse is a BOSS

I had the best lesson tonight! Ok, now that we got some of my excitement out of the way, let's talk details...
Super tired and happy post-lesson
My lesson started with Trainer having us work on basic bending at a walk. Nothing too fancy, just trying to get Casey to bend in a circle while staying really relaxed. Trainer pointed out that I keep too much tension in my legs and that I need to remember to just keep them relaxed. One of my ankles is a lot weaker than the other one (stupid HS varsity soccer injury) and I think I've been overcompensating for it's lack of flex by trying to force it down, but that just makes my whole leg tense up.

After working on bending at a walk, we moved on to a trot. Trainer emphasized that I should ask for the trot when Casey is actually in a nice relaxed bend. We got some really nice upward transitions. We also worked on downward transitions, trying to really get Casey to listen to my seat and vocal cues instead of having to rely on rein pressure as much. This is a tough one for both of us, because downward transitions are not the easiest for us, but we made some really nice progress.

Next came cantering. We aren't focusing on specific things in the canter yet, because Trainer says that Casey doesn't really have the muscle strength yet to do a lot with that, but we did a little bit of bending. Trainer made numerous comments about how good Casey's canter has gotten (she hasn't seen us canter in a lesson in probably two months), which made me pretty proud :)

Now to the good stuff, the jumping! Trainer had us pop over a medium sized cross-rail a few times each direction. Then she set up a jump line which was a one stride to a one stride. We only went over this twice and then I think Trainer had a change of mind because she set up a new line that had bounces. By the end of the lesson it was a quadruple bounce to a one stride oxer.

I have very little experience with bounces and I had no idea if Casey had ever seen a bounce before, so the first time going through was a tad nerve-wracking (I was just praying that she wouldn't try to jump it as a crazy wide oxer), but I should have had more faith in my pony, because she handled it like a champ. The bounces also really helped to set me up well for the oxer.
Engaged horse booty
I honestly don't ever know how to describe the experience, but going through the line, Casey was light, really picking up her feet, and rounding over the jumps really nicely. It made it really easy to ride as well because she had a really nice rhythm going. The oxer just keep going up and up and Casey just kept jumping better and better. By the end of the lesson we had gotten to an oxer that was 3 feet high and probably 2 feet wide. And Casey made it feel like we were flying. It was really magical, and it really just showed me how freaking awesome my horse is. I know that she has talent, but she really blows me away sometimes when it shows up like that!
She's such a boss :P

By the end of the lesson Trainer gave me some really good feedback. She told me that she really liked how I rode the line, because I was floating my reins and just letting Casey do her thing. She also told me that I should make a point to set up bounces for Casey when I jump out of lessons, because it is encouraging her to jump really nicely and will strengthen her bum and get her off of her forehand.

She recommending doing a bounce line twice a week and running it through 10-12 times. I usually jump two days a week (out of the 5-6 total times I ride) so I will just make a point to start setting bounce lines for myself. I am still a newbie at setting my own lines, so after hopping off Casey I made sure to walk the line myself a few times (for my own future note: bounces are 3 normal steps, the one stride after is 8).
Post-ride queen awaiting her treats
I think that this lesson was really what Casey and I needed to get us back on track. It's been so long since we had a jump lesson that I was running out of things that I knew we needed to work on and I really like getting feedback! Plus, this lesson really was a confidence-booster. Casey and I have been working up to jumping 3 feet on a more regular basis (right now it's about every other week and just a single jump at a time), but that huge oxer really felt like nothing because Casey was jumping so round. If we can keep jumping like that then 3 feet won't be a challenge at all!
Her front end just kills me with how good it looks
Do you like using bounces as a training aid? When's the last time that you had a lesson where everything just clicked into place nicely?
Soooo many baby carrots for the best horsie

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