Obviously I wasn't able to have a jump lesson on Casey, so instead I cheated on her and had a lesson with her best friend Ava. Ava is a Thoroughbred-draft cross mare who is quite adorable. Trainer's main advice on how to ride Ava was to keep her in front of my leg and to be a bossy rider.
|I have very few photos of Ava. The ones that I use here are from last summer when she wasn't in work and was very dirty. She's fitter and cleaner now, I promise!|
We started off the lesson with some walk and trot. Ava's walk is incredibly exaggerated. She isn't that fast, but it feels like she is taking ginormous strides. Her trot, in comparison, seems much smoother, except for the fact of her head carriage. She has a neck that is on the shorter side, but as soon as she is asked to do anything besides walk, she immediately puts her head straight up and it's like her neck just disappears underneath you. I had to hold the reins incredibly short just to have contact with her mouth. As a result, I kept finding my hands really close to my chest, making me feel like a T-Rex trying to ride a pony. My attempts to get her to bend and stretch down were only mildly successful, and when I asked Trainer about it, she said that Ava is capable of that but that it takes a lot of work.
Once we finished with the trotting, we moved on to the cantering. Ava has a really nice canter when she is actually going. It's easy to sit, had normal-feeling strides, and since she's so big and bulky it makes me feel like a warrior riding into battle. BUT, she was a tad harder to keep going than I'm used to. I could feel her start to suck back and try to stop working and I would have to kick her on. It was definitely more work than I'm used to, because Casey is endlessly energetic and I have to worry more about reining in her energy rather than building it up.
|Ava from last summer|
We moved on to jumping and Ava really started to wake up. We popped over some crossrails to warm up, and I had to kick her on in between the jumps, but by the time we moved on to tiny 2' courses she had started to get excited. I did still have to get her engine revving again after each line, but she was super happy to be jumping and has a really nice jump.
We finished off the lesson with a 2'6" course that had some complicated lines (like a sharp-ish bending line). I was a tad nervous, not due to the height of the jumps (thankfully at this point 2'6" seems small to me), but that I wasn't sure that I had the steering ability to navigate some of the lines. It's tricky figuring out a new horse when also riding courses. I shouldn't have been nervous though, because Ava was super responsive and on-top-of-it, thundering about the course while my trainer excitedly yelled "GALLOP HER!" She nicked one of the earlier jumps on the course that was also the last jump and her second time over it she launched over it which was really fun!
|Ava from last summer|
We ended on that last course, because Ava is still building up her fitness levels and was pretty tired. She got lots of pats, a long cooling off, and then plenty of carrots in the barn. Then I turned her out in her paddock, right next to Casey.
It was a really fun lesson and I definitely enjoyed jumping Ava. Part of owning Casey is that I have very little money for lessons, and when I do pay for lessons, I want to put that money into Casey's training. That means I don't really get to jump other horses (except for when I get lucky). Since Casey won't be able to jump for probably another two-ish months, I'm really considering taking more lessons on other horses. It slightly depends on how much this next vet bill costs though....
|Ava & Casey - BFFs Forever|
Do you ever "cheat" on your horse?