Hippoi Athanatoi

Another Round of Murphy

Today was the second of the pair of jumping lessons, and as I had hoped (and expected) I was put on Murphy once again. He, on the other hand, was less thrilled with this, as the class before ours had been delayed. This meant that he hadn’t had a chance to finish his evening hay yet, which resulted in him greeting me with his ears pinned back (in case I was thinking of stealing his hay).

His mood didn’t improve when I insisted (and eventually had to trick him by grabbing some of the hay) that he turn around so that he could be tied up between the rings at the back of the stall, since this meant he couldn’t reach his remaining hay. However, keeping him turned around the other way for grooming and tacking up when he’s in a bad mood is just not something I want to risk. I do flinch when he tries to bite, and that just results in both a spooked horse and a spooked Linda. But he made it very clear that he didn’t appreciate being separated from his food, which I can certainly understand, and when I finished and was about to turn him around again, he actually turned the wrong way and pushed me into the side of the stall. Very rude, and we had a brief talk about this.

Once down in the arena, he behaved pretty well and actually stayed still when I mounted up. Of course, our instructor was nearby, so that might have had something to do with it, as the horses know to be on their best behaviour when she’s looking. He also started off with a pretty positive attitude and none of the initial lazying about that he sometimes starts with if he doesn’t feel motivated. I tried to start off thinking of my seat from the get-go, but too much lifting and carrying last week and then even more before the class today had left my back pretty stiff, so I wasn’t able to do it quite as well as the last few times.

The exercise for today was essentially an extension of last week’s exercise, with one more obstacle added on a diagonal line. We started out pretty slow, walking and then trotting the lines we were going to jump later, and it went pretty well. His pace was a little brisk to start with, but I thought we found a pretty good rhythm after a while, and again he felt fairly ‘uphill’ and light at the front. I did, however, forget all about minimal interference once we got to cantering and he was reluctant to actually move into a canter. I did manage to get him to respond better after tapping him with my whip, but by then I had already gotten into the habit of ‘pushing’ him along with my upper body. Its so easy to slip back into bad old habits.

For the actual jumping, I did manage to stay pretty still, although for the first few rounds I stood too far above the saddle. I then ended up with one round where I came in a bit before him, and ended up having to let him handle the rest of the obstacles on a longer rein. My instructor was very pleased with how little I interfered when he had a problem that he could and should sort out himself, and told me to do the same when he was doing things right. I tried to keep that feeling in mind, and the next round I did quite well. Unfortunately, we did one more exercise, with one added element, and by now both Murphy and I were tired so the final round didn’t come out as well as I would have wanted. The very last jump was solid, though, and I managed to get a good feel for how to take an obstacle on a diagonal line and make sure the horse knows he’s switching from one lap to another. We even got the canter right, so that was nice.

As an aside, while writing these lesson summaries I have noticed that I really need to brush up on my English riding terminology. Although I understand English texts about riding perfectly well, I don’t use those kinds of words often enough that I’ll always recall them when I need them. Time to dig out that old book I purchased before I went on those riding holidays in England and Wales years ago.

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