Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"It's only 2'6" . . ."

It seems that we have reached the point where little jumps are starting to look ridiculously tiny, and big jumps just aren't big. I've always been one to notice the tiny, 3" difference in a fence; however, it simply doesn't faze me anymore.

The first show of the season was this past weekend, and, while I didn't show, I tagged along anyway to take pictures and help out and eat food (because someone always brings donuts, and donuts are one of my weaknesses). I was also paying attention to what went on in different divisions so that I could be prepared for my first show in May. Jr. Eq. apparently only asked for walk, trot, and canter, but I'm still going to be dropping my irons and doing lengthening/shortening of strides. The courses are a bit difficult; one of them had three rollbacks in a row, and the second one included a hand gallop. Maybe the judge figured that he could torture them over fences then be nice on the flat. I'm still trying to pick out a division that judges the horse, but if I can show at 2'6", then I can do Low Hunter. I'll also be able to do the Hunter Seat Medal, which is a plus.

The horses were in all day yesterday due to rain, so the mare was rather fresh, but she was bending well and staying in her corners for the most part. I tried out a shorter stirrup. It was horrible. I've been paying close attention to my left to right balance in the saddle. I'm still having to put more weight in my right stirrup, but it becomes worse when I do circles to the left—which is likely the main cause of Baby leaning in so much on left circles. I have a private lesson today, but I'm hoping to get in two extra rides over the next two weeks leading up to the show so I can brush up my flatwork a bit.

After we did our warm up, Miss S had us tie up our reins and let our horseshoes wherever they chose. We simply had to go with them. Seems easy, right? It's not, and the fact that Baby wanted to charge at every horse in the arena didn't make it any easier. She's at the bottom of the totem pole in the pasture, and she hates ponies. The only animal she didn't go after was Butter; everyone else was fair game. I tried to use my legs to push her away, but she was a mare on a mission.

When the chaos ended, and we picked up our reins, Miss S had us do an exercise where you lay all the way down on your horse's neck, put your reins forward and keep your button back, then come up without rounding your back. It's supposed to simulate landing a jump, but it's exaggerated. We had already done it at the trot during our warm up, and it was easier then, but I don't have the strongest core or back, so the canter was slightly painful. It's mainly in my left lower back. It's hard to stretch out completely and relax, then the muscles tense up very quickly when I go to sit up. I'm hoping to do some clinics at the end of show season, and Fifi did this riding yoga clinic earlier this year, so I'll probably tag along with her to one of those. That, or I'll drag her along with me. Welcome to friendship. 

We did a pattern with poles and small verticals. I was focusing a ton on my equitation. Now that Baby is going slow more consistently, I don't have to focus on trying to stay alive when I jump. She was doing the whole "Fuck you, I want to canter" thing though, which gets annoying after a while, and she wasn't particularly interested in shortening her stride no matter how much l squeezed her, so half of the pattern was terrible, but the last fence was nice both at 2'3" and 2'6". Honestly, if you have never jumped 2'6", and it scares you a bit, stop. Trust me, it's not that high. There is nothing to be worried about (says the girl who had to pep talk herself to a 2'3" jump the first time).

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