Hippoi Athanatoi

Work Less, Think More

Last week, there was four of us. This week, we were nine (though that was one extra, I think, over what we’ll actually be from now one). Quite a change, and not ideal for a jumping lesson. Even if all the horses play nice, it always takes time to get through that many people. However, since I was assigned Murphy, I was in far too good a mood to be concerned with such trivial matters. ;) As he had some food left (and thus something else to chew on than me), tacking him up went quite well. He’s definitely getting the idea that a stern look and a little ... growl of sorts means he should lay off threatening me, and he didn’t even come close to trying to nip today. He just thought about it a lot, heh. I noticed one odd thing while getting him ready; his halter fastened on the right instead of the left side. I thought someone might have turned it outside in, but it looked okay, so once down in the arena I asked the instructor. Turns out Malupin (his left-side neighbour) had learned how to undo his halter even through the new bars that separate them, and Murphy is the last horse they want loose in the stable as he literally wrecks the place. Such a sweetie.

I also noticed that he had some fresh bite marks on his hindquarters, and it turns out things have been a little unsettled in the herd these last days. A few new horses have been introduced to the main herd recently, and apparently both Murphy and Gamir came in with big bite marks today and Dark Digidoo, who took charge of the herd a few months ago, had been looking spiritually beaten down all day. They weren’t quite sure yet, however, if someone else had taken over the herd or if things had just been shaken up in general. Murphy certainly felt he wasn’t done with the new arrivals, because he spent a good part of the lesson trying to chase down and kill Campino, the new pony. Gave me plenty of energy to work with for the jumping, though, so I didn’t mind.

Right, the jumping. Fairly basic exercise, focusing on good turns and the right leading leg for the canter. Which immediately makes it not so basic at all for me, especially on Murphy. My first round wasn’t very good at all, since he wasn’t focused enough (he kept wanting to join the horses lined up and waiting for their turn) and I immediately fell back into my old habit of trying to move for him by working too hard with my upper body. I also didn’t get the canter right after the second obstacle, but that was sort of expected, and at least I got him down into trot and then onto the right leading leg in the canter fairly quickly. But I definitely should have been more focused from the start.

The next time around, she reminded me to stay still and let Murphy do most of the work just as I approached the first obstacle, and for once I managed to do just that. I locked into a good position, held it over the first obstacle, and then just allowed him to gallop on towards the second without any interference. The distance came out perfectly right, and we got a great second jump. Still landed on the wrong leading leg, but I was really pleased (and so was my instructor) with my performance between the two obstacles. She said she’d never seen me be able to correct an error so quickly before. Guess I am a bit on the slow side at times. ;) Of course, I was helped along by the fact that he had a lot more energy and a lot more focus this time around, after we had had a serious talk about trying to line up with the rest and about eating small ponies.

I also should have worked more on preparing for the canter I wanted after the second obstacle, by getting him to yield slightly for the new inner leg even before the jump, but I suspect she didn’t nudge me about it because that has a tendency to make me over-active and I was too busy enjoying an unusually good canter from Murphy that I kind of forgot. For the final round, we added a third obstacle, and this time I actually managed to get him to land on the right leading leg after the second jump, so I didn’t have to switch before approaching the third jump.

Now, however, she told me to try to ride to prepare for the new canter even before the jump. Fortunately, I didn’t get over-active (or only just a bit) before the jump, but as I failed to get the right canter afterwards (I still hadn’t recalled the exercise we did some weeks ago, when we worked on getting the new inner side to yield to the leg aid even before the jump), of course I slipped into being over-active again as soon as I had to take him back down to trot and then try for a new canter aid. I did, however, manage to pull myself together on the second try, and sat down and simply used leg aids to get him to do the work instead of trying to carry him into the canter. And it worked. I really hope I’ll get him for some more dressage lessons in the future (there’s a chance he’ll be in our group more often for dressage now that there’s more of us, and hopefully the new additions—all small and light, alas—won’t get him all the time), especially ones where I get the chance to practice getting him to canter. A private lesson focusing on that would be perfect ... I think I’ll need to try and arrange that, actually.

Submit Comment




Your Comments:

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?