I have never been a particularly good stadium rider on any of my horses, and my feelings towards that phase have ranged over the years from "Fuck these fucking fake stone walls" to "All you have to do is not die. That is the only goal here."
But I do really love dressage, and I do really like cross country, so stadium is a necessary evil. That's what I keep telling myself about why I'm going to continue clawing back my confidence over the most embarrassing of cross rails. I want to event again, and I want to event above Beginner Novice, so I am going to re-learn to jump big jumps that consist of stupid fucking poles in a tiny fucking area.
|"if it involves candy, count me in."|
There were three tiny cross rails set up in the ring when I got to the barn this morning. They looked so small and inviting, and I was still riding the high of my domination of 12" verticals over the weekend, that I decided today was going to be a jump day. I know I said I was going to let BM handle the jumping for now since my confidence is shot, but since I was actually feeling confident, I decided to embrace it and roll with it.
Bobby warmed up super well. He was light in my reins, adjustable to all my aids, and prancing around off his forehand from step one. Good britches. I'm glad the return of intense dressage rides are agreeing with you. I walked him over the cross rails (a one stride, and one on the diagonal with a 9' pole in front of it), and then once warmed up, for some reason I thought I could just tally ho and canter into the one stride right off the bat.
I just kind of sat there and thought, "You will go over this!" and nothing else, so he did go over it, but...didn't do anything else. It was kind of a rushed mess, but at least he didn't stop?
|jumped these jumps.|
After that, I kept the one stride to a trot in, canter out exercise. I also added in a half halt or two (or five) on approach. Something BM said to me during one of Bobby's training rides the other day really resonated with me, and riding Oz afterwards showed me exactly what she meant.
"Trust the half halt." I have to give him the half halt, yes, but then I need to soften my reins and trust that it went through and did its job.
On Oz, if I didn't release it, he casually veered off course and politely told me to try again and maybe he would jump the next time around.
On Bobby, if you don't release the half halt, he goes blowing through your hands and plows into whatever distance suits him at the moment.
Of course, without all of BM's help over the past month, Bobby wouldn't even have a half halt in front of a fence, so now I have to trust that he'll check himself before he wrecks himself...and myself and my precious head. Again.
He really listened like a champ though. I even cantered him in to the single X. He was like, "ZOMG, LOOK AT IT! LOOK AT IT BE A JUMP AHEAD!" the first time and kind of plowed through all of my aids, but I made him canter for awhile and adjust his stride back and forth before coming around again. The second time, he listened so well to my half halt that he actually dropped down to the trot. I'm okay with that!
|jumped this jump too.|
I did a good job of keeping my leg on at all times. There were a few times I could feel that split second where before he would have slammed on the brakes, and it freaked me out a little, but even if I wasn't actively legging him on, I always had my legs wrapped securely around him. That might have made the difference to let him know I was for real.
Obviously these aren't real jumps, but they're what I'm comfortable with right now while I figure out how to ride my horse again. And while I might feel sloppy most of the time, I can tell the training BM is putting in over bigger jumps is sinking into whatever brain lurks between those giant mule ears. One day it will all come together, and I won't look at a raised ground pole and think about my imminent death.