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Lisa's Blog post # 39
During my talk with Lesley she had suggested that I canter some figure eights with a simple change of lead in preparation for approaches to jumps off of turns in the canter. So, not being one to ever disobey my riding instructor, that’s what we did on Thursday. After a brief warm-up we walked to the far end of the XC field and did canter/halt serpentines all the way back to the barn. I concentrated on what she had taught me during our last “jumping” lesson (which had been over a month ago!) – to keep my weight, shoulders and hips shifted correctly to help balance him so he wouldn’t swap leads and throw his shoulder. I concentrated on my “tunnel” steering. I concentrated on holding my canter aids all the way through the halt. By the time we got back to the barn I had my old Cotton back – woo-hoo! for canter transitions! and for Lesley!
Tomorrow’s jumping lesson wasn’t looking quite as dicey!
As I drove to the barn the next morning, I calmed my nerves by reminding myself that Cotton was going to do all the work. I repeated the “relaxed, loose and forward” mantra in my head. I prayed.
By the time I got to the barn I was ready. Lesley warmed us up over a baby crossrail at the trot. She modified my two-point half-halt and my rein aids through the turns – I had been practicing them slightly wrong. Practice makes perfect only if you practice perfectly! She reminded me to keep my back flat.
Then she had us trot into a bounce with ground poles on both sides, raising it each time we went through. I love ground poles – they really help Cotton and me focus on our tempo to the jump so we don’t get rushy. All that went off smoothly and balanced!
Next, she had us go through it the other way, adding an oxer at the end about 5 strides away – trot in, canter out. Oh boy! I suggested we trot the oxer by itself first…just to avoid the “herding wild cats” at a canter thing. When she said “no” I thought, “OK, here we go! Help me Lord!” And He did! Cotton didn’t spaz out! Thus, I was able to keep my composure. (or was it the reverse?) It was like we had been doing this all our lives! We did smooth half-halts, I didn’t pull, I kept my back flat – absolutely amazing. As we sailed over the oxer the first time I let out a “yay!” We were doing it!!
After a few more times through we reversed directions – trotted the oxer first then cantered to the bounce. Same thing! He did trip over the first element of the bounce one time because he was focused on the larger fence behind it, but recovered nicely. And because I had my back flat, which allows my hip angle to open and close correctly, I was able to go with his motion and not feel insecure.
By the time we were finished Cotton and I had jumped a Novice Level oxer and vertical. As I pulled his saddle off I couldn’t hold back the tears. This time, though, they were tears of joy!
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