Ze Germans Use Their Shoulders

Had another lesson last night with my instructor’s assistant/ Gracie’s owner, and it went exactly how I didn’t plan it 🙂

Basically my instructor has been working with me on keeping my leg on and in place over larger fences. Good news: we fixed it! Bad news: my shoulders suck.

Before we delve into that, let’s review the courses from last night. Course 1 was a very huntery warm up, so I worked on keeping my leg on over fences (duh) and my automatic release.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.43.08 AM

No real issues here, pretty straightforward. The fences were low, maybe like 2’3, 2’6 on some of them, so I made it my goal to add EVERYWHERE. And I did it 🙂 And it wasn’t pretty but it was effective so whatever #jumpers.

Okay moving on to the fun stuff where my lack of good posture really affected my riding:

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.41.32 AM

So a bit more detail on this one: Outside vertical to outside Swedish oxer, then squeeze through the gap between 4 and 5, pop over 3, hang a right to the outside vertical 4, hang another right to the vertical 5, flip around 3 to the single oxer 6, come around the corner to 7, then tricky inside turn to 8.

No problems with 1 or 2, but after two, that gap to 3 was tight, and made setting Gracie up for 3 very last minute and very tricky, but somehow we survived and I was already looking to the right to make a tight turn. Gracie being of short stature took a REALLY sharp turn after three, which I did not see coming, and so I had to tighten her up for 4, which worked out since we had to do a rollback to 5. No issues with this rollback since they were on the same “plane,” which we’ve practiced a million times.

Single oxer was a piece of cake. I swear I think Gracie prefers oxers. We never have any issues with covering the distance, and she seems to perk up when she realizes I’m letting her stride open up so that she can cover them. Definitely helps my confidence with getting her to jump far and wide!

Now let’s talk about 7 to 8. From the corner to 7, I only had about 2-3 strides depending on my track and pace. Since 7 is going towards home, Gracie tends to pick up pace after that fence, making it a bit tricky for me to get around to a tight “oh hey btw here’s another fence that’s not in a straight line” for 8. After my turn, I really only had about 1 stride to get Gracie straight to 8, which she gave me no problem. Having said that, I’d prefer 2, but her owner had taken her to a show last Friday where she did a 3’6″ course for the first time in a while, was 10 seconds faster than the 30 some odd other horses, but knocked the last rail 😦 Such a bummer, but my point is this horse has skills, and I’m trying to hone in on them before Culpeper in 2 weeks so that I have a feel for how tight and powerful I can get her.

Back to the turn, this is where the assistant instructor noticed that my shoulders would get hunched, and that I needed to sit up straight to be more square towards the turn. Otherwise, Gracie’s face was in the dirt, and we wouldn’t be straight to 8. We tried the last three (single oxer to 7 vertical with rollback to 8 vertical) again with my shoulders more square and my butt in the saddle, and WHAT A DIFFERENCE. All of a sudden I was looking up, straighter, Gracie’s face wasn’t in the dirt, and we found the perfect spot in the middle and straight over the last fence, even still with only about a stride after the turn to show her fence 8.

Basically, I’m back to trying to remember to “ride like ze Germans,” sit up and deep in my turns/corners, and work on my posture, even when I’m not on a horse i.e. at work….




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