Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Endless Plateau

So the last couple days I had 3 really really good rides jumping Rosie, Cordi, and Simply. This was one of those times when I realized how much better the horses are going and how much better I am riding than a year ago. People say you sometimes seem to be on an endless plateau and all of a sudden you realize that things are all of a sudden better. It doesn't always seem like you are improving but every day things build and build and one day you think, wow things have really changed.

So my first ride was on Rosie, she tends to be a little excited so we took her for a hack first to quiet her down a bit. We got back and I warmed her up and trotted over a couple fences. Once I started cantering around over a few Denny had me come to a slightly larger vertical. I haven't jumped Rosie that much and always relatively small, no bigger than 2'9. Denny then had me come to an oxer, she was quiet and calm and just loped down over it. He kept raising it and having me come back to it several times until it was right around 3'3". I was really trying not to rush her and to keep everything slow and quiet, especially coming out of the turn. Because of this she broke to trot a couple times and I had to circle but overall I had a great quiet canter to the fence and she just effortlessly jumped the fence. I have learned with Rosie that if I need to slightly move up to the distance I can't just but my leg on and have her go because she will go too much, I just have to soften my hand and she moves right up in a calmer manner. We have never jumped her this big before, it was great to feel how easy it was for her and not have her get over excited about it.

I jumped Cordi right after and it went along the same lines as Rosie. Cordi would get a little too aggressive last year so Denny wanted me to try and just keep her really quiet and in a soft packaged canter. This actually turned out to be pretty easy to do on her, it was a slower, more collected, canter than I normally jump her out of. At first when we were jumping a vertical (probably 3'6") she wasn't quite sure what to do, getting slightly deep out of the collected canter. She really figured it out and jumped through her back, using herself really well. We came around and kept jumping the oxer like with Rosie, Denny kept raising it until it was right around 4'. I needed a little more pace but still a more collected canter than I would normally have had. It was really nice to be able to come to the fence with a really soft hand and have her just power off the ground over the fence. In the past I wouldn't have been able to just wait for the distance staying really soft with a slower more collected canter. I would have run at the jump a bit and probably left long. Just a year ago Cordi was having a hard time holding her canter to a rail on the ground, it is so nice to see how much she has developed over the last year. I am happy that I am getting more confidant and competent in my jumping making me more relaxed coming to the fences.

The next day we jumped Simply doing the same thing raising the oxer and having her keep coming to it. Simply has a bigger more powerful canter, and she is younger, making her harder to keep together. I feel like her canter is getting better all the time, even a month ago I couldn't have put her canter together as much as I did today. Again, with Simply, we jumped her bigger than normal, probably around 3'3" but out of that slower more packaged canter. I was happy with how much more ridable she was, she doesn't have as quiet a canter as Rosie and Cordi, SImply is very powerful and hasn't developed the strength to hold it yet. It was great to be able to practice the same things with all the horses in slightly different manners. Basically with all the horses I just need to stay quiet and relaxed in a good canter and let the distances come, with out rushing it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cross Country Schooling AGAIN!

Today I trailered Millie to Meri Secrist's farm to cross country school. She was absolutely fantastic! I couldn't have been happier with her. I wanted to get her out to a few different places to school before going to Southern Pines I and this school made me feel like she is really ready to go!

I tacked her up and hacked down the long driveway to the path to the cross country course, Karen McCollum met us there on her horse Pearl. I walked Millie around a bit and then trotted and cantered her around. Millie was TERRIBLE at going down hills last summer, this year she is so much stronger I could canter her down the hills without feeling like she was going to fall down! She feels so much stronger, fitter, and more confidant than last year. I warmed up cantering over a small box a few times and then did a small picture frame to a small stone wall. She was a little backed off to the picture frame but the second time around jumped it fine. We then went down and I cantered around over some logs and things and popped the tiny ditch. She was great a positive to everything, she went up and down a small bank and even did the half coffin! She is so much more game now! We went to the water and she just trotted right in. Meri has a great big water complex with every size drops in. We trotted out over the small bank and then dropped in over the same one, Millie didn't hesitate or anything just plopped right in! She was so good! I then cantered the long way across the water and out over a log and back in over the log. Millie left out a stride both times going out over the log, I saw a good three but she just left the ground at 2! I trotted out over the log one more time so she could see she could get close and just pop it.

I really feel like Millie is ready for Southern Pines now! If all goes well she should be able to go Novice up north!