The Hippoi Athanatoi, the immortal horses, are the fabulous steeds of the gods and heroes of Greek myth.
Yesterday the time came for our epic double jumping lesson. The weather and the season (it was now much darker in the evening than two weeks ago) conspired against us, however, and we were forced to set the course up indoors rather than in the paddock. A little disappointing, since I had looked forward to jumping Murphy outdoors, but it was rather chilly and dark. Plus, it takes a lot more work to carry all the materials out into the paddock. Not to mention back in again after the lesson. As it was, I still ended up carrying way too much for my back anyway to get us started at a somewhat reasonable hour, since the lesson before us was more than a little late.
The setup was quite a bit more ambitious than what we usually do, with two diagonal lines with two fences each, two fences along the centre line and a trio of fences on a curved path. Clearly, we’d be working hard, and as we got started, I could feel that my behind wasn’t very happy with that prospect. It wasn’t from the carrying, it felt more as if I had fallen down and landed on my tailbone, but I can’t remember doing anything such. I guess I was lucky I wasn’t in for a tough dressage lesson.
Murphy also felt a little less than inspired, possibly because the lesson before had been so late that he’d only gotten some 20 minutes rest in the stables and barely a chance to eat any of his hay, so I spent most of the warm-up just trying to encourage him to become a bit more forward-going. It didn’t feel as if I had much at all in my hand, though.
We started jumping on the curved path, and it turned out to be by far the most difficult setup of the lot. We came at it from the right at first, and after I tried hard to find a good line, I just ended up being totally overruled by Murphy who had a much better idea of how to tackle the jumps. I felt rather like I was in the way. ;P
And when we switched to taking it from the left, it got really bad. First, I went way too fast (I always end up doing that when I feel as if the horse isn’t going forward enough on its own) and then I really managed to mess things up for Murphy. We muddled through once, with me jumping at the wrong time, and on the second try, I got entirely out of synch with him and when he jumped from a standstill I got knocked on my jaw by his head and pulled him in the mouth. Poor thing, and he was being so very generous too. Fortunately, after a bit of rest, I managed to get through it semi-cleanly (and at a much more controlled pace).
We then went on to jumping the various lines one at a time before putting it all together to a little course at the end. The diagonal lines worked quite well, and so did the jumps set along the centre line, and as we kept on jumping Murphy woke up and decided that he was having fun after all. Still, once it was time for us to jump the course I did worry about how the curved line would work. Fortunately, it was to be done from the right, and as it turned out it was much easier to do when done as part of a larger course. Murphy did lose his rhythm across it, but we got a decent line and didn’t have any issues with the jumps following it. We then got to pick two more jumps (or combination sof jumps) to redo, so I picked a diagonal followed by the curved line.
This time, we pretty much nailed it. Though Murphy did land at the wrong canter, I had prepared him well enough for a right turn that it flowed on beautifully and I could really feel a marked difference. He’s really strange in that his canter isn’t very good (my instructor said its the worst in the stables), but he can maintain a counter-canter on a curved path and across jumps with no balance issues at all. So, overall, marked improvements during the lesson and lots of fun. Though, we did end up taking 2 hours instead of 1.5 hours, so I was a touch stressed by the end.
Hippoi Athanatoi is divided into four sections, covering various of our hobbies.