Thursday, November 27, 2014

Diagonals & Rollbacks

This is from last week, where we were practicing jumping angles and rollbacks (as you can see from the title) and Wolfgang did very well! We were in a jumping clinic with Canadian eventer Jane Stone, and we practiced angles so Wolf and I are pretty good at them because we...or at least I learned loads! Between each jump was two strides, then a roll back to jumps 4/5. We could decide how narrow or wide to make the turn, the wider it is, the steeper the angle. Listening to what K was telling some of the other riders in the lesson is that you want to look to the far side of the jump (aiming for the middle), because the riders instinctively want to look at the closest side while the horse is looking at the far side, this way you both look at the same thing and you do not jump ahead of their motion thinking they are taking off when there is still a stride left!
We also went once through the line with our eyes closed, which was a bit scary but not as bad as I was anticipating. I'm not sure why I thought it would be so bad, we have already jumped without stirrups and without reins! long as she doesn't try putting all three of those things together...

For our warm up portion we practiced lots of lateral work, which Wolfie did very well at both the trot and the canter! For being an old grandpa horse, he can be pretty agile.

No lesson this week, the roads are too bad tonight to go out, but hopefully they will be better by Saturday for a lease ride. I'm hoping to do a little bit of no stirrup work!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wolfgang has been doing pretty well these last couple weeks, although it has gotten pretty cold, which I think is making him a little stiffer than usual, so now we are doing longer, gentler warm ups with more walking/walk breaks, large circles etc. Still, he doesn't seem to bothered by the weather, but it helps he gets to stay inside at night.

We are still working on collection, K gave us another option to help get him to drop his head. Basically you go on a nice circle at the trot and gently bring your inside hand back towards your shoulder, which pulls his head in, and after a couple steps you give back the rein. It usually only takes a couple of those and he remembers what to do. Hopefully we will get to the point where just a light squeeze on the inside rein will be enough of a signal. Have to keep lots of leg on so he stays on the circle and doesn't just collapse in on his shoulder. He's very good about being on the contact at the walk but at the trot he's just like 'nope, I'ma be a giraffe and run around with my head in the air so I don't have to use my back and actually work'.  But slowly, very slowly, we are getting better.

Jumping is going pretty well, we are riding with N again so that means we usually get to do some higher jumps that we might otherwise. We usually have at least one 2'9" on the course. We've been doing some bounces, combinations and jumping on an angle (which Wolf and I are pretty good at, thanks to our Jane Stone clinic last winter). This past Thursday we had a triple combination that K has do with out reins and it wasn't that bad actually. The first time through with out reins Wolfgang was like 'f this shit' and ran out to the right (since the jumps were flush against the wall on the left). But he jumped nicely without any contact. Second time, I had my right hand in his mane and left by his neck ready to grab the rein if it felt like he was going to run out but he didn't. K said that pretty much every horse all week jumped better when the riders dropped the reins, which isn't much of a surprise.

A couple months ago I was having a weird problem with my ankles, mostly the left one, where it felt really weak and like it was going to roll out to the side. No matter how little or how much weight I had on it, how far down my heels were or how my foot was in the stirrup. It was not fun, it actually made it really hard to concentrate and jump properly because I was so worried about my ankle getting hurt. So one week I ended up just dropping my stirrups to jump and it wasn't bad at all actually. In fact it was our best round of the night, I wish I'd got a video of it! But it's been better lately, I've got a couple stretches that are meant to help tighten up the tendons on the outside of my ankle and they have helped a lot.

I won't be back out to the barn until Thursday for our next lesson and then Saturday's are our new lease ride day :)