Whenever I tell my husband that we worked on gymnastics during a lesson, he comes back with “Wow, so Simon was doing some cartwheels and some hand stands?”
He’s a funny, funny guy.
So that’s where the title of this post comes from, because on my Sunday lesson… we did gymnastics! And there were photographers there, so I’m blogging about it 🙂
Traditionally, we have a hard time with gymnastics. You can read the back story about the first time I did real gymnastics with Simon or you can watch the below video and read this statement: Until recently, I had no idea gymnastics weren’t something you galloped through and “see what happens”.
Turns out, you should actually do things like use leg and encourage your short strided horse to lengthen… and lengthening doesn’t equal speed. Since that “ah ha” moment, gymnastics have been a lot less scary for us.
My trainer is also really good at going slow with gymnastics. At first we are trotting over a crossrail to a canter pole, but before you know it you’re doing three bounces to a two stride oxer. She’s also really good at making individual adjustments for each rider in the lesson, so if you’re not ready for a height yet she will move it up/down.
Previously I had a gymnastics lessons on New Years (no pictures, no post) so I knew a bit of what to work on. Hands up, eyes up, and make sure I really “press” into each fence so I didn’t get jumped out of the tack or left behind. Some of our old demons showed up in the lesson, mainly me not giving Simon enough leg to really jump over each fence so he would be long to the last fence or at worst, add a stride.
That spot and stretch over the jump is obviously not desirable, so I used my leg over ever fence to encourage him to jump across instead of just up and down. Also I had to apply leg on the last two strides so we had enough clip to get out… but at the same time couldn’t let him fly through the whole exercise. Length, not speed was key.
When we did that a few times without adding or doing a holy long spot to the last single, we graduated to doing the oxer. This was the most fun! He really used his back over it, and would land on the opposite side and do his happy dance.
His “happy dance” is taking his head and kind of putting it down and shaking it a bit. If he was a bucking horse I’d say it was him threatening to buck, but he’s not… he just does a few little happy head tosses. It’s adorable, and you can see a little of it at the tail end of this video.
And while I don’t try to be someone who toots my own horn… I won’t lie – I’m really impressed with these pictures. My little horse is really trying and using himself. I don’t look like a sack of potatoes like last time we jumped, even though my lower leg needs to get stronger over this height. I think I can take “giant fear of gymnastics” off my list of chickenshit badges of honor!
I did ask my trainer how big these were, hoping I might be able to cross off a 30 before 30, but the biggest oxer we ended on was maybe 2’9″. That’s okay, it was a safe and not scary for the day for both of us!