Hippoi Athanatoi

Summer Jumping, Day Two

Day two of the jumping class, and boy could I feel it in my legs. ;P They objected even before I got into the saddle, and then they really started filing complaints. I think Murphy must already have put on some weight from grazing, because the insides of my thighs felt painfully stretched out. That’s enough whining, though. The weather was better today, still grey but no rain until the end when we let the horses out, and Murphy was fairly eager for another round of jumping.

Today, we added a plank to the mix, something the horses don’t see a lot of. Apart from that, we had a couple of diagonal lines and two wider obstacles down the length of the arena. Like yesterday, we focused on transitions in the warm-up, and once again Murphy was fairly alert and obedient but also somewhat hard-mouthed. It felt as if he used his hindlegs fairly well, but he didn’t really work through his back and wasn’t interested in coming to any collection. Not sure if its just the lack of the help rein, or something else. He moves easily enough, though, so I don’t think its physical. Summer laziness, I am hoping. They do have a habit of getting injured when they’re out more and it gets a bit rowdy in the field. This morning, Gamir was found limping, probably after fighting with Karmosin over Nikita, whom Gamir has developed a huge crush on.

Anyhow, Murphy was fine, and hopefully he will stay that way. Once warmed up, we started by jumping the plank. As expected, Murphy took an extra look at it, coming at it with his ears pricked forward. However, he didn’t really slow his pace any. In fact, I think he actually went for it a bit more decisively, and jumped it quite well. Despite the fact that I had some trouble getting the line right, coming in too wide at first and then too tight. The last attempt was okay, though, and by then we had all three parts of the plank up and he was coming at it quite eagerly.

After jumping just the plank, we added another obstacle to that line, making it a slightly curving diagonal. Three times, we had ridden past the obstacle we’d now be jumping, but even so it took just a hint of a guiding rein inwards to get Murphy to set his sights on the second obstacle as soon as we had cleared the first. Trust an Irish horse to have a good sense about those things. So far, he’s never refused to jump for me, not even when I’ve messed up the approach, and as long as I do my part right he really jumps quite well. Of course, once we had jumped the other curving diagonal a few times we then added the two plus two more lines together into a small course, and it started getting a bit tricky.

The lines weren’t as tight as yesterday, so I was able to keep Murphy at a brisker gallop all through, but even so I couldn’t keep from ‘pushing’ with my upper body along the diagonals. The problem is that Murphy’s gallop does tend to feel very close to trot at all times unless he is exceptionally frisky, so even though he was moving forward fairly well today, I kept feeling as if he might slow down to a trot which got me stressing a bit again. Before Thursday’s class, I need to kick myself soundly to remind myself that it doesn’t matter if he loses the gallop. Hopefully, my legs will feel a bit stronger again, as I think my sore muscles made me feel as if I couldn’t keep him galloping with just my legs.

Unfortunately,  I do seem to have a hard time keeping my body passive and still riding decisively. Like yesterday, the instructor thought I rode him very decisively, and didn’t allow him to get away with being distracted by the other horses or the bloody construction work going on outside the arena. I need to try to transfer my decisiveness to just my legs. Still, the final round we did, over just a few obstacles for each of us, went very well. I did one of the diagonals and the two obstacles down the length of the arena, and with the last one put up a bit higher Murphy jumped it beautifully. His technique feels pretty good once the obstacles get a little higher, and he jumps quite smoothly and steadily so even if we don’t jump in perfect timing I tend to manage to keep my balance in a forward jumping position for as long as needed.

After the lesson, Murphy once again demonstrated very clearly that a) he hates being walked once the lesson is over and b) he loves being let out into the field. He definitely has his priorities straight.

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