Monday, September 22, 2008

Altitude Sickness

I don't know why I did it. Maybe it was because the indoor was filled with round bales and I couldn't ride dressage. Or maybe it was because I talked on the phone with my friend in Texas who is preparing for a big jumper show. Or maybe I just needed to know if we could possibly jump around a "Big Girl" Hunter Trial course in 6 weeks.

Something unknown compelled me to walk out to the outdoor and set up some fences, dragging standard after standard into place to build... what?

A triple bar.

A 3 foot, 3 inch triple bar, to be exact.

Don't worry, I had the camera with me as well.

Brego warmed up slow. I thought he was tired from foxhunting. It turns out, he was just bored. He barely lumbered over the 2'6" warm up verticals. But the first time I brought him down the line to the triple bar, he locked on. I could tell he was thinking about it. Something new, something different. He jumped it but knocked the back rail with his fronts. The second time he made the same mistake.

Biggest. Jump. Ever.

But the third... he figured it out. He launched over that fence and I felt the free fall on the backside of the jump. I felt loose and unfit and barely able to crouch over that tremendous jump. But man, that horse can fly.

Percheron Jumping a Triple Bar from Eventing Percheron on Vimeo.

Watching the video, the expression on his face, that boy was eating it up. His had a spring in his canter and just banged off the ground. He cleared it by at least a foot and a half and he was very tight with his knees and his hind end. Average rider. Extraordinary horse.

So we have much to do, but Brego is technically ready for a move up. I, however, am not. Watching my riding made me cringe a bit. More no stirrup work and more grid work should get that leg back under control. I really felt I had figured it out about a month ago, but I haven't been able to recapture the tightness. I need to talk with my jumper trainer about the back side of the fence. It all comes unravelled there and I think it's because I am not strong in my position. If anyone has some good articles/video on how to ride the backside of a big fence, I would love to read up on it!


Katie said...

wow he looks just stunning! Nice work Daun

Anonymous said...

GO DAUN AND BREGO!!!!!!! What an awesome video!

Beckz said...

He looks super, hecertainly enjoyed a bit more of a challenge :). As for position, its hard for me to offer advice because you ride in more of a half seat, while I have always been taught to stay in the saddle and sit tall. I can't really figure the mechanics if you can understand that.

Mrs Mom said...

Holy hannah... look at you two...

Way to go Brego! What an incredible job you guys are doing.

fssunnysd said...

WOW! Is that power, or what!

McFawn said...

For reals, Daun, get a pic and send it to the George Morris Clinic in Practical Horseman. Your position is solid enough that you won't be outclassed, and your horse is very round and good with his knees so even though George will do a double take on his breed, he will probably express some admiration of his form.

I still think it looks like your stirrups are too long. But if not that, here's my advice. Your leg pivots at your knee in the video, causing it to swing on landing. Your whole leg should have contact with the saddle, but the fact that you pivot makes it seem that your toes are turning out, causing your knee to be the main point of contact and your lower leg to only make contect on the back, not the side of your calf.

Try turning your toes in and lifting the arches of your feet towards each other. Imagine that you are trying to touch the soles of your feet together. Right now, your foot is probably more on the inside of your stirrup so imagine putting more weight on the whole stirrup by putting weight on the outside of your foot. This will help stabalize your leg.

Boooooringly long....sorry. Your horse is a great jumper. 3'3 is childsplay for him.

P.S. I just lost my horse of 15 years. Your blog is fun to read because it reminds me of the good times I had with him--I was committed to my one horse, faults and all, and I like that about you & Brego.

McFawn said...

P.S. I think your position in your upper body is really good. But look at the pic again on this post. You can see the whole stirrup, not just the edge of it, showing how much you're twisting your toe out. This is a problem of mine, too, but just trying to keep my toe forward hurt my leg. Once I thought of putting weight on the outside of my foot and bringing my arches towards each other, I found it easier to do. Once you try that you'll see what I mean. It will change your whole leg and make it lie flatter, not just your foot.

Daun said...

Thanks for your warm reply. I am so sorry to hear you lost your horse. I cannot even imagine and I've only had Brego three years. I would be beyond consolation.

As for your suggestions, you paint a very nice mental picture for me to focus on. Thanks for explaining it like that, with the weight on the outside of my foot. That definitely makes more sense. As for the stirrups, I did put them up a hole based upon your and Wiola suggestions, but my trainer had me drop them again. He said I wasn't jumping big enough to warrant them, but maybe now I am. :)

As for Mr. Morris, he really prefers to have show pictures so I need to see if I can get one in before the season winds down. Or else there is always next year. Also, the Leslie Laws do a form critique in the Chronicle for eventers and you bet if I get a good picture, I will send it to them as well. They had some VERY nice riders and horses this time around.

I did talk with my trainer about the videos and forced him to watch them. Again, he thought I was fine, he said "Look at Brego!!". I had to remind him to look at me and no, I am not fine, and I can improve. So we discussed some options and I am going to work with him next week. But if I do get to go hunting this weekend, I am going to repeat your advice in my head and see if I can figure something out. I don't want to jump him anymore this week so it'll have to wait until this weekend or the next.

Thanks again and thanks for chiming in in the midst of your loss. I am deeply touched.

Daun said...

Yes toes out is a perennial problem for me. It comes and goes, but I have had a particularly bad rash recently and so I am trying to address it once and for all.

I agree with you. It's all in my lower leg. If I can fix that, it will give me the solid base I need to stay more open in my upper body, stop the roaching, and give me the stability for more release. It's all related.

Of course, I can think about it all day, but when riding those fences, my (bad) reflexes take over and I ride them the same as always.


Toycia said...

Hey, I've read your blog for a while, but not posted here, thought I'd put my two cents in about your seat in case it helps -
I agree with Mcfawn just from watching that one jump - there is definitely pivoting at the knee. Sometimes that is caused by gripping with the knee - something really common when the rider feels a little insecure (perhaps when her horse is jumping huge? :) ) Think of bringing your feet together under your horse and gripping more down and around his barrel with your ankle/lower leg. That should release the knee and stop the pivoting - and as always, keep your weight in your lower leg, don't let it stop at your knee!

Hope that helps a little, I could of course be completely wrong since i'm basing that entirely of off that one video! :)

Good luck, Brego looks amazing

Kristina said...

I realize that this is a little late, but I thought I'd give my two cents anyways since lower leg is somewhat of a weak point for me as well.

I think your problem stems from gripping with your knee which causes your lower leg to swing and become unstable. My coach always tells me to roll my knee off of the saddle and sink my weight into my heels. Rolling your knee off the saddle prevents you from pinching the saddle with your knee and also puts more of your calf against the saddle. Sinking your weight into your heels encourages you to balance correctly over the jump. When you pinch with your knee you aren't holding properly with your calf and therefore it swings. I found that this really helped me.

This really helped me solidify my lower leg position with time. For your toes I think maybe putting less of your foot in the stirrup iron and angling the stirrup at a 45 degree angle from Brego as opposed to a 90 degree angle. I don't have this problem myself, so I'm not sure.

I used to do the elbow thing myself as well and going through lots of grids where I only focused on my elbows helped, as well as throwing in automatic releases. With the automatic release you can't really stick out your elbows if you do the release correctly.

P.S. I love Brego!! You and him are a great team :) I just found the blog a couple weeks ago, but I'm catching up to the present day posts.. I'm hunter/jumper/eq person myself, but I'd really like to try schooling cross country some time for fun! I don't have my own trailer though, so this is a work in progress. :)

kristina said...

... That was little bit incoherent and long. Hope it made sense anyways! :)