Saturday was the first 100% stress free day I’d had in quite a while, so I celebrated by spending all day outside with ponies and my camera. If that doesn’t lift one’s spirits… I don’t know what will!
Since several riders at our barn are getting ready for the early March hunter derby and I’m working towards the late April one, our trainer has done a great job doing “derby lessons” that offer more challenging courses than the typical outside inside outside inside that you’d see in the hunter ring.
This kind of lesson is pretty much perfect for Simon and I. We both love technical challenges, and he is a really honest horse to new jumps… so as long as I ride properly we usually do okay! Simon warmed up feeling pretty good, and we started with a trotting course to show the horses all the new jumps.
The derby challenges in the ring were a single barrel with flowers (no pictures of us doing it, but he was great!), a bench jump with planters underneath, two sizes of hay bales and a jump made with sideways standards and flower boxes.
He gave the bench jump a little bit of a funny look, but hopped over it with no drama. I thought the single barrel would give us trouble, and although he did zig zag to it a little bit a few trot strides out he realized it was for jumping and pretty much said, “Oh okay no problem!” and popped right over. Good boy!
Then we built up to a few courses, but the last one sticks out in my mind the most so that’s what I’ll post about. It was a mix of incorporating the new derby jumps with tight rollbacks and technical challenges. We needed to be able to execute rollbacks while maintaining enough pace to make the two stride and the one stride combinations… which isn’t something we’re old pros at yet. Here’s the (not to scale) course:
Our first course was a little messy. The haybale jump had two options – a 18″ and a 2’9″ stacked option. On the first course, I chose the teeny option because I was being a wimp and he had a lot of oomph coming out of the two stride. The result is Simon say “meh” and cantering right over it. Whoops.
Also, for our last jump I totally leaned in for the long… so he added instead. We all know how beautiful that looks, but I’ll share our fail with you anyway for giggles.
One thing I am really proud about though, is Simon’s new found ability to get the horse strides. Granted, my trainer set the lines a bit easy this weekend so I’m not saying we would have rocked it on a 12′ stride… but he’s jumping more across everything and he’s lengthening up his canter. The “easy” lines felt pretty easy for us. I squeezed across the jump, but didn’t feel like I needed to stretch him down the lines in order to make it. Here’s a cool compilation of our first attempt at the two stride this past weekend. He leaves a little long for the second single, but they’re also set pretty tiny.
The next time was much better. I felt very jumpery “slicing” the first two jumps… even though the pictures don’t show that much of a slice at all. I swear, we were jumping clear across them 🙂
Bench jump went fine, to the two stride which was non-eventful.
I put on my big girl panties and jumped the 2’9″ hay bales… easy peasy!
Had to do a firm whoa to keep him from running through the one stride, but he listened and came right back.
The rollback was really tight to the last fence, but unlike last time I sat up and we got a much better spot to it. While everything wasn’t perfect, I finished the lesson all smiles. So much fun! That’s why we do this crazy horse thing, right?
Moral of the story is, if any of you need a pick me up I suggest you ask your trainer to go find some crazy stuff for y’all to jump. It really gave me a boost of fun that we most definitely needed.