Friday, August 14, 2015

Blog Fodder: Equitation Evolution

I'm stealing this excellent idea of a post from Allison at Pony'tude. Partly because Bobby gets today off to recover from all the grueling work we've done the past three days (hmm, well....sort of grueling anyway), partly because I love posts that involve little more than me posting pictures, but mostly because it's a really good reminder to look back and see how far we've come over the years.

one of baby bobby's first jumps. clearly it was very hard work for both of us.

Or not come. Because we could have come farther via the use of trainers, lessons, a giant checkbook, and a magically sound horse with feet like rocks instead putty. Or if Red Pony hadn't died, and then we'd be doing Advanced right now.


I'm going to share a few pictures of jumping Red first to give you all a baseline of where my equitation was on the daily before I was left with just Bobby Magee. Red was pony sized which meant my leg was often dangling past his belly even with jump-length stirrups, but I learned to jump anything of real height on him, and I owned him for so long that I've never been more comfortable on a horse.

our first event in my ancient AP saddle. leg slipped slightly back, not the biggest release,
but my reins are long enough that he's still able to use his neck. i'm not displeased with this.

3'6" vertical in one of BO's ancient stubben's. leg slipped back, release could be a bit more
forward. this pic makes me lol though because the reins have whipped under his tiny pony neck.
same saddle as above. while my auto release is spot on, i have no actual contact with
the saddle. magic. i learned to give with my reins and let red do his thing, but my leg
didn't always stick with me. 

old ass stubben, fave pic of red pony ever. red's favorite game was not listening and
taking whatever spot he liked best. it looks like i'm giving a bitching auto release here, but
i was actually slipping my reins thanks to the long spot he'd picked. leg is on point though, and
i was probably more comfortable from this distance than any other because it was his fave.

Then came Bobby, who didn't know how to jump.

Or horse.

Or not be a total drama queen when asked to do absolutely anything.

On top of that, he was the complete opposite of Red. Bobby is a full hand or more taller than Red was, but he possessed none of the athleticism Red had at any point in Red's life. (He's improved in this area.) He was very easily offended, whereas Red only chose to throw tantrums when he thought it was funny. You could boss Red around and he wouldn't care, but it would hurt Bobby's delicate pony soul for weeks.

feb. '12. baby horse is very impressed with tiny vertical. this was only 2 months after
i lost red, so i'm still in default red position. not the strongest leg, and defaulting to a long rein
but short release. 

sept. '12. as bobby got more confident with jumping, i adapted to his style.
a generous crest release makes roberto happiest.

I've always had problems with the strength of my leg and keeping it in the proper position. I've never been a pretty rider like Allison. Clearly equitation was not my strong suit.

But let's hurry this along and add some height:

june '13. 3'6". this was my HDR which has fairly substantial knee rolls. i felt comfortable
in it until i got my current saddle and realized what a hindrance it was. it's also pretty clear
that i wasn't totally comfortable at this height, or at least not totally stable.

oct. '13. same height, same saddle. maybe  a little stronger leg, but still basically just
floating above the saddle. 
july '14. same height, same saddle. not releasing because i went through that phase.
it was a long phase. it made my horse very angry.

And then I sold that saddle, bought a Tekna, ripped all the blocks out, committed to some serious no stirrup work, and:

april '15. my leg doesn't budge an inch anymore, though i've taken to really exaggerating
my release and dropping my boobs to my horse's withers in the air.

may '15. 4'6". solid leg, following release, one hundred percent stable.

So let this be a lesson, kids. Do not be lazy and just sit around and eat cookies all day. Take some time from eating cookies to pull or cross your stirrups. Perfect practice makes perfect, and all that. That way, even if your horse is being a complete asshole and acting like he has never done the jumping before...

"hurh durh, what is this cross rail thing?"

...your position goes into default mode, ignores the stupidity going on beneath you, and you're still feeling strong and stable.


  1. you had me convinced last week..... no more blocks!i will probably look for an older cc with a plane flap bc my seat on my saddle is so deep i can't get out of it to release. now i'm even more convinced!

  2. Your auto releases are beautiful!!! Totes jelz.

  3. Love it!! I'm also REALLY impressed by your floating-above-the-saddle move... you're like, perfect... but a foot above the tack. HOW DID YOU DO THAT?! That said, you have gotten SO much tighter in the tack since you bought the Tekna and really got down to work. Looking good!

  4. So boss. So amaze. I wish I had your confidence over fences.

  5. woo awesome (esp that last one haha). also it looks like the Tekna works just soooo much better for you. one of these days i'll figure out the whole 'release' concept and isabel well be so much happier for it...

  6. Huuuuuuuuuuge improvement on your leg. Awesome!

  7. Well damn. Look at that leg! Now that is a nice leg.

  8. I just got back to jumping yesterday. I jumped a 3' ascending oxer and it felt like 5' because my leg wasn't stable enough. I came to the same conclusion as you: no stirrups, two point work, get stronger as quickly as my stupid back can handle.

  9. (I'm way behind in blog reading obvs) but ugh seriously do I ever need to better about doing no stirrups. If my leg ever got as stable as yours id be one happy baby eventer

  10. It's interesting to see the difference a green horse makes. I don't mean that to be rude or anything -- since I don't ride them (cause I can't) I've never really thought about it before!


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