Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Easy

Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Easy

There are good lessons because your horse is fantastic, and then there are bad lessons because your horse is not fantastic.  I didn’t have either of those lessons last night.  I had the lesson where your horse is mostly game for what we’re trying to do, but the rider is not making his job easy.  By not making it easy, I really mean thumping on his back while trying to step up to bigger jumps.  Here’s a dramatic visual to what it felt like:


Here’s what it actually looked like:


I know right now you’re saying, “Stop being so hard on yourself!  That doesn’t look bad!” and it really doesn’t look bad.  Especially my Simon pants, he looks like a rock star!  The picture doesn’t tell the whole story, so my awesome trainer took a few videos which I will share with you.

The videos tell the story a little better.

Basically my biggest problem is I’m not used to jumping bigger jumps, especially longer ones like this oxer.  I think I’ve kind of taught Simon to not jump across very much, instead he jumps up and down and has gotten very used to doing the ads.

The result is a kind of short strided Simon, and when we’re doing a  gymnastic like this he isn’t jumping far enough across the jumps.  So instead of each spot being perfect (like gymnastics are supposed to be), he gets a little bit longer distance each time and then it’s harder for him to get out over the last one.  My trainer asked to apply some leg and kiss, which helped but I wasn’t fantastic at my timing.

Our other problem is that since I’m not used to jumping this size, my position is all willy nilly.  I get jumped out of the tack… a lot.  I also am not breaking down as well over the fence.  My trainer advised me to basically break down into my two point in the beginning and stay there so I didn’t start sitting up mid jump (see video).  When I tried that, I wasn’t able to keep my leg on and get him over the jump so he started adding before the oxer.

It was kind of a mess.

By the end I was getting jumped out of the tack so much that my horse took matters into his own hands and squished two of the teeeny tiniest canter strides ever into a shortened (trainer brought the oxer in a bit) one stride.  In my opinion, he did the add because he thought it would keep me from falling off or at the very least from flopping on his back.  It didn’t.

So in the end I was very frustrated at myself, but I can’t say it was a bad lesson.  We discovered a lot of short comings in both me and my horse (mainly me) that I am going to have to figure out how to overcome.

20 thoughts on “Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Easy

  1. It’s so hard when you’re first stepping out of your comfort zone in a lesson. I’m doing the same thing by moving up to 2nd level in dressage, and having a hell of a time coordinating myself. My horse is being amazing (most of the time …), but I just can’t seem to get a handle on myself!

    Cut yourself some slack. You’re a completely competent rider, you just need more practice at the height and more time to develop the muscle and muscle memory to be awesome at it!

  2. Ugh… yeah. Those jumps look like every jump I tried to do over 2′ with Vinnie or Diamond throughout the entire winter and summer. So I totally feel your pain — giving your great horse a shitty ride is the pits (which I usually follow up with a good, solid day of wallowing self-pity).

  3. It’s good to know your weaknesses so you can strengthen them. It sounds like you have a very good idea of what to tackle next. You look pretty good already, so you can imagine how awesome you’ll be with some work! Gymnastics are designed just for this reason. I think you have a lot to be proud of.

  4. Hey if we were perfect at this we’d be the trainers! We all have what we think are bad rides, but they come and go, and probably tomorrow you’ll have an awesome ride.

    The only thing that helped me when I was experiencing much of the same, getting jumped out of the tack, was closing into my two point, and burying my hands into Libby’s mane. I’d also stay closed until a stride out from the landing side of the jump. To really helps get your body in motion with theirs when they start to use their backs.

  5. We all have our riding challenges, that’s for sure. I think the key is to recognize what you need to do better, work on it, but don’t let it discourage you! I love your attitude – it’s all about learning.

    I bought a 3 year old last year and often feel like I’m not doing him justice…in reality, I make mistakes, but they aren’t the kind that a horse won’t get over once we get it right. Same with you hitting the tack. You will figure out the motion quickly, I’m sure.

    Be grateful that Simon is such a patient star! Not because your mistakes were huge, simply because any horse that lets us practice and improve without getting grumpy or mad is a very good thing for us.

  6. You’re right, I’m going to tell you to stop being so hard on yourself because this is the only way we learn: make mistakes. You’ll get there!

    And I’m the last person who is going to throw stones. I live in a glass house you know. 🙂

  7. But what I love is how hard Simon tried to be a good partner. Much better than trying to ditch you and your “awfulness.” Not that you’re awful, you know what I mean. Some ponies won’t tolerate anything less than perfection in their riders. Simon WANTS to work with you. That’s worth a ton! :0)

  8. Just found this blog – very entertaining! What helps me is to think that I have to hold my two-point after the line of fences, at least two-three strides. Since your horse looks like a quiet honest guy, grab mane before the first fence while in your two-point position and use that to help your balance. Good luck!

  9. Lauren – you are ALWAYS too hard on yourself!! 🙂 You and Simon are really doing great together! I agree with Shelley and S that staying in your two point on the landing side of the fence for at least one to two strides after the jump will help a lot, but, of course, that is easier said than done! Also, I know I don’t like to over jump my horses, so you could set up ground poles and practice just cantering over the poles set at different distances (long 1 or 2 strides, etc) to get a feel for letting him streeeetch down the lines without wearing his legs out. Have fun!

  10. You will get used to it in no time. Its normal for your position to fall apart when moving up but thats all part of progress and becoming a better rider which we all strive to do. You actually don’t look that bad.
    Once you are more comfortable jumping this height you’ll have no worries 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.