Two exceptional lessons today!
First, Julia and I jumped around cross country. Jules loves to get heavy out on XC, so Bobby and I focused on getting and maintaining balance – hands low and pressing into her neck, while my upper body draws away from my hands to regain balance. Once stabilized, I softened my hands to allow Julia to gain the forwardness she would need to clear the fences. Bobby stressed how important maintaining balance will be as we move up the levels for more complex combinations.
It was a perfect tune-up for the XC course Jules and I will face this weekend.
Then Willie show jumped. Stadium has been Willie’s weakness, and we’ve had a frustrating year trying to work out the kinks. Stopping has been the obstacle, which is why I’m glad he refused once today; I wanted Bobby to diagnose and dissect the problem.
It turns out I haven’t been communicating with Willie very well; no wonder he’s been stopping! Bobby told me I wait too long to determine the striding at each fence. Instead of three strides out, I need to commit five strides out by either carrying what we have up to the base or adding leg to jump the fence with one fewer step.
Proactive thinking translates into better riding – Willie was the most confident I’ve ever seen him jump. I felt as though I was riding another horse. Willie has so much potential, and our breakthrough today was an important step in our development. It’s so cool to see how much he’s grown since we’ve had him.
Willie’s show jumping: