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Lisa's Blog post # 21
The fog is lifting! I see a light – although I still can’t tell how long the tunnel is.
Cotton was as relaxed as ever during our lesson
yesterday. Lesley thinks he’s beginning to trust me. During our flat
work we managed to canter to the left and not switch leads through the
corner and he got away calmly on his left lead after our last couple of jumps without switching or fighting my hand. We trotted slowly, on a floppy rein, to all the jumps (except the first one, when I thought I had softened enough but didn’t).
The other break through was with me. A nagging
question in my mind has been how in the world was I going to become
Cotton’s fearless leader? How can I ride him confidently before I acquire all the tools I need to ride him correctly?
I’ll spare you all the details and just give you the
end result of my contemplation – feel free to skip to the next paragraph
if you’d like. I have been so focused on what I don’t know, that I lost confidence in what I do
know! For me, it’s all about faith, which is defined as “the assurance
of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” When I looked at
the “evidence” it is overwhelmingly clear to me that I am right where
I’m supposed to be. How can I not be confident when the right horse,
the right barn, and the right instructor have all been delivered right
to me?! I showed up at my lesson yesterday with renewed assurance.
Even though I don’t know all there is to know about riding a horse like
Cotton, I know enough. Even though Cotton has developed some
interesting habits, he is an experienced, safe jumper. Even though I
can’t see myself cantering him through a stadium course, and much less a
XC course, I know that is supposed to be our goal even if we never
actually achieve it.
OK, now I’ll tell you what happened during my lesson.
Lesley clarified some things for me. She basically had to duplicate
the same exact lesson she did with me last time but I saw it in a whole new light.
I have been making this a lot more complicated than it needed to be –
“You think too much!” she tells me. I know, it’s not like this is
multi-level calculus for Pete’s sake. Lesley reminded me that I only
had 3 things to decide once we got into the “red zone” – steer, use more
leg or hold what I got – but always keep my leg on and my contact soft no matter what. OK.
We also worked on my position, again. During
the last stride I tend to round my back and lean into the jump just a
few inches (Lesley has the eye of an eagle) and that slight move is a
cue to the horse to speed up. We did a bounce combination so I could
see the effects of that position. I need to pretend a string is pulling
my head up as Cotton gathers himself for the jump. I actually did
better than I thought I might – didn’t get thrown out of the saddle very
much at all even though the second jump was normal height. And hey! I
didn’t even think about how high I jumped!
It was very encouraging to begin to get my head around these basic fundamentals. We’ll see how my jumping practice goes tomorrow!
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