Bobby had Tuesday off, and then I flatted him yesterday. He felt great, and we were even able to go through shoulder-in, haunches-in, and some medium trot both ways without one single melt down. He was soft and willing, and just generally in a cooperative mood for once in his grumpy life.
|look at it! it's cantering with its head above its withers!|
He felt just as light and responsive when I got on this morning. BM occasionally called out reminders to check his self carriage by floating the reins at him for a few strides as she set jumps, but he was moving out nicely. Then I thought I felt one weird step. It'd be nothing then wait, what? Was that something?
I brought it to BM's attention, and she watched him go before telling me to pick him up a little more. Now that he's got a ticking time bomb in his front feet (Please, please let it keep ticking for a few more years!), she said that even being slightly on the forehand might make him feel off for that one odd stride. Once I got him a little more uphill and collected, I couldn't feel anything, and I was really trying to find something.
It's...sobering. I mean, I know the navicular is there, and maybe even something else lurking that we weren't able to find, but he's been so sound since his shoeing changes. The thought process--mine, Farrier's, and BM's--is basically if he's sound for what I want to do, keeping going until he's not and then we'll do something else. I'm sure there are those that don't agree with that, but Bobby loves jumping and he hasn't told me it's hurting yet. When it does, we'll be done.
|still loves his job.|
Anyway, that got slightly off track. This was our course for the day:
|it's been too long, paint.|
We started off with the (Shit, I should have made those different colors. Oh, well.) oxer between the one stride around to the vertical on the short side to the vertical on the rail. The first time the oxer was down on both ends and the first vertical was only 2'. We didn't have any issues with those two, but Bobby landed from the second fence on his forehand and consequently raced to the final fence, jumped flat, and landed in a heap.
BM put the oxer up (2'6") and sent us off again to do the one stride instead of the vertical on the wall. Bobby nailed everything the first time, and I was feeling pretty good. Then BM put the vertical on the short side up to 2'6" and the wheels fell off the bus.
He actually nailed the first two jumps, but then we were supposed to go from the vertical on the long side and carry on to the oxer to make it a bending line. We didn't get in well or land well from the third fence so I aborted the bending line and came around to try to the whole thing again.
Dudes, I could not make that fucking short side vertical my bitch for anything.
|going to milk these indoor pics for everything they're worth until i get new ones|
The first fence, the oxer, was fine. At some point BM had put it up to 3' and it was riding without issue. Bobby was jumping over it big, and landing in a big canter, and I felt the need to whoa the fuck down on landing every time. Bobby nailed the lead change with ease and he never once got unbalanced, but it was a tight, tricky turn to the vertical and I really needed to keep my leg on to make it happen. Yeah, I didn't so it kept not happening.
BM was yelling, "Go, go, go! Inside leg! Make it happen! Add leg!" and I was like, "OK, we can do it! We're going!" But I'd sit there like a lump with my legs completely off, clutching my reins, and Bobby would politely stop once we got up to it. He was like, "Your voice is saying go, but your body is saying no, so I'm going with no because you are so not with me, lady."
Grr. It was completely, one hundred percent my fault, and what was most frustrating was that I was completely aware I wasn't putting my leg on, and I still couldn't force myself to do it. We got the whole course with the bending line once because I got so pissed with myself and rode the shit out of everything which is really all I needed to do.
After a couple stops in a row, and a couple jumps where Bobby somehow levitated over the oxer in the bending line and/or the short side vertical from a literal stand still, I was so close to just quitting. Fuck it, I can't do this. I don't want to do this. There's no point in doing this.
But I rallied. BM dropped one end of the short side vertical and told me to stay in half seat up to it. She pointed out that with all the dressage work we've done, Bobby is obsessively in-tune to my seat. That's great for dressage, but he's slowing down way too much with the tiniest signal from me whether I'm giving it intentionally or not. It's fine if I need to get him more collected, but I have to keep the power coming forward and my seat was blocking that.
That worked out perfectly and we were able to coast over that vertical without issue from there on out.
|practicing for our return to flat classes at hunter shows|
Of course I'm way too chicken shit to stay in half seat all the way up to the fence for every jump. BM explained that my go-to when things get rough has switched from jumping ahead to getting left behind. Staying in the back seat is fine, but I can't cling to my reins and pull when I'm doing it. I have to still try to follow the motion forward.
I also need to work on staying in half seat longer. I can lightly sit back down on approach, but going around the rest of the way I should be up to encourage Bobby to move out. George Morris would say no sitting ever, but having my ass in the saddle really bolsters my confidence about not jumping to my imminent death.
It was a frustrating lesson mentally. I apologized to Bobby about a hundred times for stuffing him into fences or pulling him to a stop, but he never got frazzled. Every time I fucked something up, I made sure I gave him lots of pets and the occasional cookie when I really fucked up, and he responded by not taking it personally and continuing to be super game to come back around and try again. That was a big thing for him, and BM and I were both really proud of him for it.
BM also made sure to remind me that it might have been rough, but we're so far ahead of where we were last year. It's been a year since the crash and my concussion which seems like forever, but confidence is such a weird thing. I rode well to the big oxer, but then couldn't follow that and ride aggressively to a smaller jump off a trickier turn. My leg needs to be on all. the. time. Go, go, go, always!
Pffffttttt, oh well. We had to start somewhere, and that's what lessons are for, right? At least it exposed how good the dressage has gotten?