I’m on my way to beer and a caps game, so I promise to keep this short.
Since I travel so much for work, I often end up with a million makeup lessons, so I ended up riding three lessons in 2 days this week. God bless vacation time. Here are the big takeaways from each lesson:
- First lesson was a private one. I rode Addy, the big white Percheron/TB cross mare. Everything was great until my instructor raised the fences. First fence had very little filling, which of course I knew Addy was going to poke at. We had the perfect canter, the perfect distance, she had plenty of strides to see it coming, and she dodged out right before hand. I gave her a big wallop, turned around, and she got the message. We went over it (a bit dramatically) the second time, and she was a runaway train after that. I rode her into a wall, made her trot a circle to calm down, and picked up a soft, collected, easy going canter. I swear, riding all those OTTBs back in the day really pays off down the road. Anyways, these fences were like 2’6, so there was no need to be dramatic. After a minute of chilling and talking with my instructor about my eq, we picked up a canter and had a lovely last round. Not a crazy course, very huntery, lots of singles, and one 1 stride. Meh.
Takeaway: My leg is a million times better than it was BUT sometimes I roach my back. Ew. Guess I need to do more back exercises in between flights. Also, sometimes my right heel creeps up when I’m trying to spur my horse. Weird, but I’ll take it. Back and right heel. Got it.
- Second lesson was a group lesson with the fabulous Courtney! Same course, same horse, even more fire. Apparently Addy doesn’t forget easily. We had some good huntery distances:
Some good jumpery distances:
And some non-negotiable, you’re-getting-the-f-over-this-fence-horse distances:
Oof she is not a fan of those non-super-filled fences! (all photos courtesy of Courtney’s mother)
Anyways, takeaways here: my left heel this time (see pic #3) creeps up sometimes now. I’m convinced it’s an inside leg issue, so any tips with keeping heels town in a tight situation/around tight turns are more than welcome here! Other than that, my auto release is on point. My ability to stay organized and move quickly after fences is vastly improved. Progress.
- Lesson 3 was another group lesson on the same day as lesson 2. Pretty tired and cold at this point, but I rode a horse I hadn’t ridden before named Xander. He’s a big chestnut gelding who is probably worth more than all of the things I own. Probably the fanciest hunter I’ve ever sat on. Probably the easiest ride I’ve ever had, though odd and unusual for me. You know those horses that you see in the big eq or open hunters that just look like they’ve done this course a million times, and all you have to do is stay out of the tack and point them in the direction they’re supposed to go, and they’ll find the perfect distance with the perfect canter rhythm and the perfect out-of-stride jump every time? Yeah, he’s one of those. I get why people pay the big bucks for those kinds of horses now. I really get it. I basically “grandma’d” around the ring, standing in half seat/2 point as needed, and pointing him in the direction we had to go. He was flawless. Perfect. Slowest damn jump ever (seriously felt like I was in the air for 20 seconds, I thought we’d never get there!), but I guess the hunter world digs it, so hey, perfect.
Takeaways: My instructor said something that I really liked after I asked her why, after working on “jumper D’Arcy” for so long, would she put me on a hunter where I had to ride like “hunter D’Arcy,” which we’ve been trying to break for the past 2 years? She told me that just as we expect our horses to have range, our riders should have range too. Fair point. I can’t argue with that logic. A few interesting notes I found:
- My heels were much deeper throughout this whole ride, possibly because I was out of the tack, possibly because I had so much time to think about them over the 2 minute long fences (I mean Jesus, how do people have the patience for it?? Gah)
- I have range. I can swing from a hunter ring to a jumper ring still, no sweat. Good to know. Wonder how I’d hold up in a dressage ring again? #jokes
- I would never buy a super expensive hunter. It was too easy. Too safe. Too perfect. I learned I need something more stimulating than that. My wallet thanks me. My future body probably doesn’t.
Also, my elbow patch and crop matching has dramatically improved over the past two years:
Cheers to a New Year, y’all!