Monday, August 29, 2016

All about that pace

Friday's lesson was the perfect next step for me in the #eventerinrehab journey. I shared the lesson with another adult rider who has heaps of jumping experience, but after her mare died a few years ago she hasn't been jumping up to height or full courses. Still, she's got that rock solid foundation under her and I felt we were pretty perfectly matched for what we were working on.

BM had us get right to the forward canter warming up. "Bobby, you are going to gallop!" I was all, fuck yeah we are, and legged Bobby forward into what I thought was quite a strong canter. Instantly the shouted instructions started pouring in for more leg.

No, more.



ignore the fact that i'm doing...something...and look at my pones opening up his stride finally

Once I felt like we were straight up galloping galloping around the ring, BM said we were at the right pace for warm up. He needs to start off stronger than we're going to jump at so that he's sharp and in front of my leg. His half halt is so solid that I can reel him right back down to wherever--it's the going forward that needs the tuning up now.

It wasn't a scary feeling because A) I used to gallop racehorses back in the day so bitch please. Get over yourself. B) It honestly felt like a nice cross country gallop, and I have no problem letting Bobby roll out in the open. C) I wasn't jumping out of it.

But had I been asked to turn in to a jump right at that minute, I probably could have without panic and terror setting in. Since my abilities are tied in directly to a mental hang up, I try very hard to get myself in a good working mindset going into each jump session. I told myself the next step forward is going to be getting the pace back, and that's what's going to get done today. Period. That way I'm not feeling wishy washy about my work and letting myself slack on things. I want to get back to eventing, and my drive to stay focused on that goal is what's been keeping me pushing myself this year.

Bobby had some issues swapping behind cantering left because occasionally he sucks bending that way (some days it's going right, there's no discernible pattern) and he kept falling out. He gets a chiro visit Tuesday, and I think that will help him out a lot too. We ended with a bomb ass right canter right off the bat, and BM gave us our first course.

it's been so long since i've been able to draw a paint course!

Fence one was a 2' vertical around to another 2' vertical. Three was an X off a super tight turn out of the corner with a long bending type approach to a 2'6" vertical at four, finishing with a 2'3" oxer.

I looked at the 2' jumps and thought, "Those are so stupid tiny. Maybe I should ask her to raise them." But BM knows best so I figured we'd do the course once at that height and then maybe I'd ask her to put them up.

Only then we got going, and I put my leg on and really tried to get that forward pace, and I was happy I hadn't said anything. I quickly realized I've got to get comfortable jumping out of that pace again before anything gets much higher or I'm going to make stupid mistakes and set myself back.

baby jumps ftw

Our first trip wasn't really all that exiting. We were definitely carrying more speed than usual, but it still wasn't up to par. I was also still doing a little bit of grabby hands coming up to the fences and Bobby started bracing his llama neck against me and getting us into bad spots while BM called out, "Long reins, long neck!" He also got schooled the other day in dressage tack about that L-R change and he was flying into it landing off the first diagonal--to the point where I repeatedly had to run him into the wall to get him to stop. Eventually BM forced me into just giving him a super strong half halt and then carry on, but that's going to have to get settled back down eventually.

Our second trip went a little better as I felt more confident and wasn't picking at him so much. Then we moved on to course two:

sorry hunters, but these jumper type course are so much more fun

Of course we had to repeat our long ass approach to the first fence (2'3"), but hunterland practice has got me feeling A-okay about that now. Around to the 2'6" off a shorter approach this time, and then a rollback inside the oxer to the outside vertical again. BM challenged me to take that instead of the long approach around the oxer before we even began, and I know Bobby loves the turn and burn type jumping so I was all for it. He was a champ and took it out of stride every time.

I had trouble pushing through the tight turn to four, but after the first round I was braver and kept my leg on while not touching the reins and it obviously rode better. Then we had to deal with the stupid right lead change before whipping (LOL, slowly turning) around to five and keeping my legs on and hands soft to six.

Again, I had trouble keeping the pace going making the short turns and I kept biffing seven, but I was brave and landed kicking and driving to eat up the three bending strides to the oxer.

I might have started off a little slower than we were looking for, but I let the pace build as we went with each trip and through each course, and in the end Bobby was clipping along at an awesome canter and it didn't faze me in the slightest. The jumps were tiny, but it felt so good to know they were tiny and no harm was going to come if we didn't come in at the exact perfect distance that I was able to totally enjoy myself and let Bobby move out like the event horse he still is somewhere inside.

happy horse loves when i get things right and don't make it so hard for him

I tell her this all the time, but I wish I'd had BM as my trainer years ago. Bobby and I are both essentially re-learning how to jump and these slow, boring building blocks she's set up have been exactly the right path for us. I'd rather leave a ride any day of the week feeling like I could have done a little more than feeling like I've done too much and ruined something.

As a good trainer she's also always one step ahead of me, and I got this text Friday night:

We'd talked last Monday about setting a course out in one of the fields so that it was basically a mock stadium course like I'm going to have to do at an event. We were waiting on rain to soften the footing up a little bit, and I was excited to get out there and see how I would feel.

With my new focus on pace, the fact that these were stadium jumps didn't even make me blink. I had something else to fixate on and everything else just flowed from there. We did a good strong canter both ways for warm up, and then started off with the smallest jump a few times just to make sure I could maintain the pace without picking.

Bobby was jumping so easily and so well that we just kept cruising around, picking things as we went.

hubby needs a serious camera upgrade. i say that every year, and every year it's like,
oh it's not that  bad. it is. it is that bad.

We finished off with the line which, as BM predicted, we did not get five strides in the first time. Bobby cross cantered into the turn and I should have taken the time to fix that before allowing him to jump. We came in under-paced and disorganized and stuffed at least one more stride in than was needed. I came right back around though and we coasted through the five to end there.

giant horse walks over 2'3" which makes being afraid to jump it pretty silly

I'm hoping I can make it to the jumper derby we did last year so I can test my ability to ride forward off property before show season is officially over up here. Also more ribbons. Also also jumping in a big field definitely makes stadium seem less scary.


  1. You guys rocked that. Way to go.

  2. Way to nail that forward pace!! And I definitely agree that when one area of complexity increases (pace) another should decrease a little bit (height) until any kinks are worked out. Seriously tho that's awesome and glad the feeling is getting more confirmed again!!!

  3. You look so much better in these pics. I agree with Emma, always make things easy before making them more difficult. You have jumping down, now add speed, then add height. Way to go!

  4. that forward pace is such a tough one to push through to get when youve nestled into the comfortable one! So i feel your pain! You two are looking good and confident.

  5. Can I just say how BOMB you look though? Like overall? Much more confident, fit and solid. I love it. You guys rock

  6. Yay! This is such a positive post. I'm so glad you and Bobby are getting your groove back!

  7. Having an instructor you click with is HUGE! The silver lining to New York?

  8. You and I are having the same lessons lately. Pace makes jumping SO MUCH EASIER... but it's hard to get there.

  9. I am loving this roll you are on!

  10. You guys are looking amazing!!

    Oh, and I love your bright yellow shirt!

  11. This is fantastic progress!! :-) So happy for you and yay BM!

  12. Love the stepping over the big jumps. He's such a good boy.

  13. :) I love that feeling though with a trainer, like ugh wish I could have ridden with you years ago but I guess better now than never.

  14. I struggle between being too slow and being too fast. Pace is an incredibly delicate balance when it comes to jumping!


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