To get better at something, you have to do a lot of it.
At least, in theory… So, either intentionally or unintentionally, we have been focusing a lot on gymnastic/gridwork in my jumping lessons on Thursdays. Last week, it kind of sucked but got better. This week I saw the grid was set up again and was like…noo…..
Also there is a lesson before mine, and the funniest thing, but whenever I watch another jumping lesson before I jump, I get all nervous and am like well now I don’t WANT to jump. Or, I anxiously declare that no way are we jumping at that height (and trust me it is NOT high…). And the funny part? We always do end up back at that height eventually!
Ah, nerves. Why do I do this again? Oh right, because I love it.
Also sometimes when I watch a rider having slight issues- stopping, bad distances, or whatever it makes me anxious too. I think, well if they can’t make it look great, how will I do it? Do I even know what I’m doing or how to ride? It’s silly, but definitely psychological.
Older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.
We worked over the grid, building it up from poles, to x-rails, to an x-rail oxer. Kept it at two jumps only, and then built in a small course. Oats was very blahhhhhh about the grid at first, so we’d jump the x-rail or whatever, and then GALLOP around the arena, bring him back, and go through the grid again.
Anything to keep that engine firing!!
More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.
As much as I hate grids (and boy, do I!) they are teaching me some very valuable lessons about pace, not chasing (still do it though) and keeping the engine going and making corrections WELL ahead of the first x-rail.
So we worked over the course, and funny enough we got short distances, one or two long distances and some of my patented crank-his-head-sideways to make a distance on a diagonal line (ooops…thought I’d gotten over most of that) but you know what? It was ALLLL good. It went really fast too, holy.
And slowly, bit by bit, those jumps that I deemed no way became the jumps we were doing with no problems. I was a bit surprised by his ‘jump’ stupidly-because hello- if you jump higher than x-rails, you get more of an effort…And these are not high jumps by any stretch of the imagination, we’re talking like 2’3” or close to it here, hahahah. We even did this crazy rollback type thingy to a skinny *that I literally NEVER got in straight to* was nooo problem.
And even the small oxer in the grid got higher too- I didn’t even notice but it was a hole higher than what the previous rider had! Haha.
Good: Pace was good, rhythm was improving, gridwork better. Staying in a comfort zone is probably the healthiest mentally I have ever jumped at. Better at letting hands go forward instead of throwing upper body. He was staying more interested and focused on the jumps when I got the pace nailed down.
Bad: Still making him go in crooked. Grabbing back at the reins interrupts the rhythm, have to learn to trust him and just grab mane (he was perfect when I did). Need to land more on feet, when getting used to more of a ‘jump’ feeling. Need to focus on keeping a better track and not getting bumped out of my track when I get a surprise jump. Still had feelings of anxiety mixed with ‘no biggie’ feelings.
Continue doing: Visualizing the jump lesson from Thursdays on my walk to work. Really focus on riding the correct ‘feel’ and if you get distracted, go back in your mind and do it again!