Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Big Mare J U M P S

It's been a nice post-show-week with the Big Mare.  She got Monday off (aside from a nice currying and smooches on the nose) but we went back to work on Tuesday.  I specifically opted to ride int he evening when she's her most distracted, and I thought that we would practice our patience and ride amidst S's evening lessons with several long standing breaks in between our "work."

My intention wasn't to necessarily get a hard workout in, but rather to focus on getting (and then keeping) the mare's attention regardless of ponies ambling about, tractors zooming by, hay being thrown or having to refocus after a long break.

We started with some walk work and lots of lateral exercises and the mare was a gem. We trotted and she was pretty good.  Then we stopped, stood and stared at the lesson going on.  After 15 minutes, we went back to the trot and the devil started to peek through.  Some head tosses, distracted stares and weight in my reins were all sure signs that P2 was less than enthused about returned to work.  But we did and after 10 minutes of good stuff, back to the middle of the ring where we stopped, stood and stared at the next lesson.  We repeated this cycle about 4 times with varying results.  P2 threw in some lame spooks/distracto moments, but I was a bit firmer with pulling her around into a circle and diffusing it before we trampled kids on ponies.  Only one (man... I saw that like it's a good thing) got away from me, which resulted in us charging down the middle of the arena playing chicken with S trying to figure out which way were were going to turn (whoops!).  Bad mare.

All in all I was on her for about 90 minutes and I felt like each time we had a "work" session, I was able to regain focus and get rid of the silly stuff.  I think this is a patter we'll need to repeat in order to get Prairie as patient as I would like to see her for longer rides/sitting at shows, etc.

Also, I rode in my new field boots which was... interesting.  They are so much softer than my Konig Dressage Boots, that I had a completely different sense of my leg.  Mostly the sense was "holy crap, where's my leg."  I was painfully aware how little I was supporting with my outside leg, but also had a much closer feel of P2's body to guide my corrections.

But I fear that in my Dress Boots it's possible that I've been riding my boots and not my horse.  we'll see what happens with more rides back in the Field Boots and switching back and forth...

On to the fun things... SHE JUMPS
The quality of this photo is reminiscent of "bigfoot sightings" but more evidence below...
 Our Wednesday ride was super-dee-duper fun.  S had talked about playing with some cross rails with the big girl and it sounded like just the sort of variety that could do us both a world of good.  So, on went the field boots, P2 got some open fronts, my stirrups came up and off we went.

We rode at 9am, so I expected Prairie to be more focused than an evening ride, but she felt awesome.  Nice and even in my hand, light to my leg and really sensitive to my half halts.  Plus a shorter stirrup was helping me wrap my legs around her and everything just felt really, really, locked in.

We started over some poles and me trying to lurch my butt up out of the saddle into something close to a two-point.  S even had me crest release over the poles, which was hard to make my hands do, but really good for P2 and good for my brain too.

Then the poles turned into a baby X, although we had to raise it up a couple times before Prairie was even willing to entertain the thought of jumping and not just trotting over it.  She seemed to enjoy the poles and I was loving that "locked on" feeling when she rounded the corner. 

I haven't jumped in.. a while, so I've missed that sense.  And I've never felt it on P2, so it was really entertaining to watch her brain work, feel her feet pick through the poles and her stride rate as she found her own distances.

Here are our first few passes through the X.  Something flew in her ear and she was totally bother by it.... until she saw her little poles :)  Note how happy she is to come back and balance each time. What a good girl.

After a few times through she started to get it and balanced herself a bit more:

We played around going both directions and ended up making a little bounce to test her balance.  I ran out of space on my phone for video, so I don't have evidence of her "a-ha" moments and final steady rides through, but you get the idea.  She's adorable.

It was a really fun ride.  It was great to feel P2 be responsible for herself and fun to watch how she improved her line each time we rode it.  Also, even though she wanted to land inverted and run away from the scary jumps, she came back nicely and I can see where more gymnastic exercises and maybe small courses could do wonders for her confidence, body awareness and my ability to manage her "inversions."

Another fun thing I noticed was that down our long sides as we looped back to our little baby jumps, Prairie was totally chill, relaxed and tuned in.  The exercise seemed to really help her in that regard.  Which is great because it totally could have spun her up or made her all kerfuffled.  I think she enjoyed having a tangible thing to focus on.



  1. YAY! She looks adorable. I am sure that if you throw in some little jumps once in awhile, she'll enjoy the fun diversion from being a dressage all-star. Love the bounce!

  2. You both look fantastic O/F!

    I think that jumping little stuff, or doing trot poles, is absolutely fantastic cross-training for pretty much every horse. Most of them love the change-up in routine, plus it helps build muscle over the topline and it makes them think. For myself , I find jumping is a great mental work-out. When I'm dressaging, if I don't get the 20 meter circle juuust right, oh well, I can do it again. I end up not as focused as I am when I jump, and I think my horse sometimes takes advantage of that (well, OK, I'm not as demanding. Same thing?). When we jump, I know I MUST stand them up in the corner, I know I MUST get them back after the line to make the turn to the next fence, I know I MUST ride steady before the fence, etc. I think there's less room for error, and that makes me ride better.

    I can wait to see more of you guys over fences!

  3. Heh. You know you want to jump again. P2 obv does.

  4. YES, I love it! what a good girl!

  5. Awe, looks like you two are having so much fun.

  6. Adorable!! Love watching her figure it out, she looks so pleased with herself at the end there.

  7. That was awesome!!! You both look awesome and look like you were having so much fun. :D Maybe Prairie thinks dressage is boring LOL!


Related Posts with Thumbnails