Due to Austin’s “Snowpacalypse 2014” last week mixed with spending all day playing cross country on Saturday, Mr. Simon hadn’t been ridden in three days before my lesson on Sunday. On top of a fresh pony, the wind was nuts so I knew I was in for a bit of a wild ride.
The lesson started off with building some gymnastics. Trot in to a one stride to a one stride to a two stride. At first, Simon was alllll about the gymnastic and was attacking the cross rails with lots of gusto.
After a few times through the gymnastics and lots of ‘Whoa buddy’ ‘easy boy’s, fire breathing dragon IMMAJUMPERONY was back to more or less my usual Simon. He was still loving life but much less like a jumping junkie who needed his fix.
After a few rounds of gymnastics only, we added a small fence off the left lead. He was still pretty fresh, and was used to halting in the corner after the gymnastic so our first couple of go’s he had no idea I wanted a change in the corner. We did some lovely halt, twisty walk canter departure… but it wasn’t a big deal.
With each round the green oxer grew, but the real challenge was what came after. On the outside line, there was a three stride to a one stride set up. That may not seem like a big deal, but we almost always do the adds. Doing the adds in a one stride? Not a good idea.
Since doing the horse stride is something we’re really trying to get Simon to relax and do this year, my trainer had us approach the line with the goal of doing the horse strides. The first time through, Simon was like “oh really… are you sure I should jump now… well I think it’s safer to probably squeeze one more in here.” Even though we could have done the strides, I chose to do sit and do nothing… so we added in both the three and the one and it wasn’t pretty.
The next time through I was much more proactive. On the first fence I added leg to encourage him to jump across instead of just up and down, and then instead of perching like an idiot on the three stride I sat up and added leg. Results were much better! We got the strides on both the three and the one.
Simon is still pretty unsure about all this. You can feel his brain clicking like “Oh man, we’re going pretty fast… is this ok? Promise? I mean I kinda like it… but you’re sure it’s okay?”
Definitely okay buddy! We did the correct strides 2-3 times and then called it a day on a high note. Each time he got better, and I don’t doubt we’ll be doing the horse strides down all the lines sometime this year… but we’ll go slow and re-train both Simon and myself that this is what’s right. The pace we need is a lot more to get down the lines, and it’s going to take some getting used to for me not to feel like we’re going 100 mph.
As a bonus to all the pictures (my barn is turning into the best place on Sunday’s since everyone is helping take pictures of all the lessons!) we have video of some of our attempts with the horse stride. On the first one, you can see him being like “Errr brain freeze!”
But it gets better the second time.
What started off less than ideal ended up being a really, really good lesson! I love it when that happens 🙂 Plus, the crazy winds gave me an excuse to put a bonnet on Simon… and we all know I love an excuse for a good bonnet!