On Sunday. I was lucky enough to take Union over to Mike Plumb's for a jump lesson. Mike had told Denny we could bring some horses over to school at his place over different jumps if we wanted. When this turned into having Mike watch Union and eventually to Mike teaching me I was thrilled (and incredibly nervous!). I mean how often do you get to ride with an eight time Olympian!
My nerves quickly dissipated when I actually started to ride, Mike was clear with what he was asking me to do so it was easy for me to follow what he was looking for. I've said before that I don't usually ride well when I ride with someone new, I try to do only what they are telling without integrating it into what I know how to do. Thankfully this was not a problem with Mike. He didn't have me do anything that I haven't done with Union, but what we worked on with jumping I usually do on the flat.
Mike really wanted to see if we could quiet Union down and get him to relax more when jumping. Union is a pretty intense, aggressive horse when he starts jumping so focusing on that was really great. Mike would have me really use the rail to work him in between the jumps. We would do a few jumps, work to get him quiet and do a few more. We kept cantering for a lot longer than I usually do when jumping. Instead of jumping a few and giving him a break we kept going to get him more supple and calm.
Mike would have me counter bend him, and sometimes ride him down the long side deep, patting him on the neck with my inside rein. I would then put him back together around the short side and go to a jump or two. After the jumps we decided upon, I would go around the ring again either deep or counter bending. I do this a lot on the flat but I have never worked it in between jumps. It was nice because both Union and I were used to doing it so it worked into the lesson well.
Denny and I have been doing things like jumping little fences quietly and turning and bending on landing to keep Union supple and quiet. I think what Mike had me doing will be a good addition to what we have been doing with Union. I think if in practice I can get him more relaxed and rideable I will have a better chance of keeping him with me at competitions. I am very grateful Denny allowed me to ride with Mike, I was a great opportunity!