Friday, May 30, 2008

Jumping and Conditioning and Hunters, oh my!

On thursday this week, I took Brego for a spin around the new outdoor arena. It is so huge and so soft and comes complete with many fences and combinations. I was in heaven. Brego however, was already bored.

I was sharing the arena with another rider who was schooling 18" and I didn't want to wait and then raise all the fences. So I decided to focus on my canter and just adjust Brego around the course. Maybe throw in some roll-backs. All with the safety net of knowing you really can't blow an 18" jump.

Well, apparently, Brego can. Instead of adjusting, Brego would not even bother picking up his feet. I swear, of the 10 or so lines or combinations I worked on, he had a rail almost every trip. And let me tell you how embarrassing it is to be riding a draft horse who drops rails at 18".

But no matter, I worked on trying to adjust the canter, staying soft, and not driving to the fence. Finally, when someone asked me what was wrong with my horse (because on the last trip he actually landed on a pole. Like he was aiming for it. ), I asked them to raise the fences to 2'6". Brego never dropped another rail, even when we blew a corner and he had to leave super long to take off when I asked. The big guy had to sit up and pay attention.

So once again, I vow to never school tiny fences.

But we got some good work done. Most of the combinations are set up on pony strides, so two of them were a perfect half stride for Brego. Do it once long, do it once short, etc. I set him up to start on the right lead, squeeze two strides into a one and a half and exit on the left lead. Then a rollback to another fence at 90 degrees followed by a bending line where he either had to change along the line, or get his right in the air. Finally the outside two lines were an easy 4 and then a short 6 or long 5. We did it in 5.

So it was fun to get some technical stuff strung together. If I can focus, Brego is about 70% at getting his leads in the air. I do simple changes if he doesn't.

Today was our conditioning ride. We worked all over the farm, around and through the arenas, down the logging roads, jumping up and down a 2'6" bank if it happened to cross our path. We planned to do 2 five minute trots and 3 three minute canters. Brego did it all fine, although he was started to get really tired and stiff necked on the last canter. After a ten minute walking cooldown, he had mostly recovered.

So I feel like his fitness is improving. My own riding is getting stronger. It was more comfortable for me to stay in two point during the canters and I feel like my balance was less wobbly.

After the ride, I chatted with the very fun barn girls and I am considering joining them next weekend at a local hunter show. Those of you who know me personally know I used to do hunters through college and vowed to never do it again. There's something so... contrived... about the schooling hunter show circuit. I mean how many blue ribbons does one need at 18" cross rails?? Anyway, I think Brego and I might rock out that hunter show (there's a little puddle jumpers jumper class at the end of the show that I might shoot for if I can stay awake that long). If nothing else, I will give all the Hunter girls a good laugh with my tail-less wonder!


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