It's really hard to get better at coursework when riding by yourself. I ride mostly by myself and am lucky to have two lessons a month. It's just a lot of work to get off and on the horse in order to reset jumps. That means that I usually set up jump lines at varying heights so that I can warm up over cross-rails, then move on to 2'6" verticals, and I'll maybe set up a few jumps around 2'9". This system is convenient, because it means that I don't have to reset jumps, but it is problematic in that I am never really doing true courses at a certain height.
After my reflection in my last post about how I need to spend more time on the things and people I love, I put that mental thought into action. I decided that I would spend as much time as I wanted riding and I wouldn't even look at the clock. So... we did courses!
After the usual warm-up (free-walk, trot, canter, pop over a few teeny cross-rails). I designed a teeny-tiny cross-rail course. Since the jumps were walk-over-height and not challenging on their own, the course I designed featured some tricky lines. It went diagonal line (1, 2, 3), rollback to 4, bending line to 5, diagonal line (6, 7, 8), and finished with a bending line from 9 to 10. Casey was kind of being a jerk at the beginning; leaning on my hands, trying to gallop to jumps, ignoring my aids, etc. I beat her into shape ("beat" here meaning I gave her a verbal reprimand and a strong half halt), and then she was much better behaved.
|She did not take the itty-bitty oxer seriously at all|
|Her bascule has improved even over pathetic cross-rails|
After our cross-rail course, I hopped off, raised the jumps to 2'6"-2'8" and designed a new course. This was a lot less tricky. It went outside line (1 to 2), diagonal line (3 to 4), diagonal line (5 to 6), outside line (7 to 8). Casey had no troubles with this course set at this height, but she was still being a tad too strong (aka, we had very little brakes).
The course ran a little bit interesting. The first attempt was a bit rough. The first line was smooth, but at jump number 3 (which is Casey's most despised jump of them all), Casey came up at a calm controlled canter... and then totally buried herself at the jump. She stuttered to an almost-stop and then jumped the jump, clearing an almost 3 foot jump from a stand-still! (You can see this in the video at 0:15.) She did smack the plank with her hind leg(s), but the jump didn't fall and she didn't feel as if she was hurt, trotting away as if it was nothing.
|Jumping from an almost-stop|
|She jumped it from a canter this time...|
|Second time through that line|
|Starting to jump more round|
|Casey doesn't try over this jump. Not sure why as it's almost the same height as the others #horselogic|
|Don't do this if you want your horse to not kill you|
|Second time through went much more smoothly|
My reflection from this ride is that we do need to keep working on our courses, because some things need to be ironed out more (like, holy crap Casey, please don't jump from a stand-still anymore & also your steering needs some work, because right now you ride like a car with a loose steering wheel), BUT there is so much good stuff that I see from our progress. We did successfully jump a 2'9"-3'0" course with no major snafus, we both felt confident in doing so, and we are working a lot better as a team (we are both working together and listening to each other's feedback). I am super hopeful that we are going to just keep getting better. Also, can summer get here already so I can show my awesome horse? That would be great.
|Can we just appreciate how muscly she has gotten?|
|Casey doesn't understand why she has to stand next to the jumps|
|She likes to just rest her head in my hands. Weird? Yes. Endearing? Definitely :)|