I mentioned previously that I was booked in for a show jumping clinic with a well known rider on the NZ jumping circuit, who I will refer to as ‘D’. I’m not sure what the protocol is when involving others in my blog posts, so I like to keep it all ambiguous – ha!
I was down for a double lesson with my friend T – we’re both looking to improve our horses technique over fences so it seemed like a good fit to do it together. Also, I can’t spot a stride to save myself and T felt that she was in a similar boat in that regard.
The morning wasn’t the best – a little overcast and a wee shower, but the jumping gods worked with the weather gods to pull through and hold off the rain clouds for our afternoon lesson. Now, Im going to be completely honest and say that I was not a fan of how our group lesson was structured. The warmup on the flat was the most productive part, as we were riding together on a circle and D was able to divert her attention from one to the other quite seamlessly. Apparently the secret to spotting a stride is getting a correct canter, so needless to say, we spent a little while developing a solid canter before moving onto fences.
When we got to the fences part of the lesson, for safety reasons you need to go one at a time – unless of course it’s a small grid and you can kind of go one after the other as long as you watch your distance. The exercises we worked on were spread across a course of jumps, and so there were periods were I could only walk around on Oscar in a corner of the arena. T’s horse can be such a handful, he’s got this very switched on brain and if he decides he doesn’t want to jump something, there only has to be the slightest rider weakness and he will stop. T does great with him, but obviously human error meant that he had a couple of stops. This prolonged the time I was dawdling with Oscar between our ‘courses’, and it really did nothing to keep him switched on.
So we’d finally get a good canter, pop over some jumps with some really helpful feedback, only to slink back to the corner for a while. It just felt very stop and start-y.
By the time we did our last course though, I was feeling more confident about spotting a stride. I wouldn’t say I can pick them out every time, but practise makes perfect huh? Despite the stopping and starting, the clinic highlighted a couple of weaknesses in Oscar and myself that I can get to working on over winter. The first being my tendency to throw the reins at Oscar a couple strides out, anticipating the jump too early. A while back I expressed my goal to stop jumping ‘with the handbrake on’ and it seems I’m overcompensating now. I’ve been on both sides of the fault line, so hopefully next time I’ll get it right somewhere in between the two.
The second weakness is our corners, which relates to some of the stuff that C is teaching me in our dressage lessons. Whilst Oscar turns his head, his shoulders drift out, and so we overshoot coming into some of our lines. C gave me an extremely useful exercise to combat this drifting, but I’ll address that in my lesson recap later this week. It is golden – so stay tuned.
Two takeaways from the clinic, both of which will help infinitely in improving our show jumping performances, and
hopefully eradicate the likeliness of a fall next season! I had a jumping lesson scheduled for today with somebody who came highly recommended, but we got rained out. It will be interesting to see if I have made any improvement by next Wednesday, which is when we’ve been rescheduled for.
T got heaps of feedback for her horse, which is awesome for her. I secretly hope she gets bitten by the eventing bug and we can do more fun stuff together, particularly next season. Something tells me she has too much of a love affair with show jumping though, so I could be lone ranger-ing for a while longer! Bloody jumpers, ha!