Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mini Jumping Lesson

It has gotten very cold here! I'm not really surprised, though. We never really had hot summer weather, and I predicted that because of our mild/cold summer, we will have a very long and cold winter. As our first freezing temperatures occurred last night (October 10th! The 10th of October!) and we had a chance of snow, I'm thinking I might be right... It's a good thing I like cold weather, I suppose!

I went out to the barn yesterday around noon and grabbed Val out of his stall. After I yanked his blanket off, we went out to our sand outdoor and I let him run off the steam he accumulated the last few weeks. Surprisingly, despite the cold wind and the fact that he hadn't been worked in over two weeks, he didn't really run very fast or buck at all. So, after convincing him to trot/canter from one end of the arena to the other a few times, we went inside and got tacked up. I ran the whip I'd borrowed to encourage him to run back to where it belonged and saw my trainer, who said that if I put my jumping saddle on Val I could use the same exercise she was going to do with another student who was having a lesson. I agreed.

When I put Val in the cross ties and came back with his saddle and accouterments, he looked at me with his ears pricked forward and a happy expression on his face. "We riding, mom? We riding? Let's go let'sgolet'sGO!" It was great to see. With Val all suited up for battle, we went back to the outdoor.

It was so cold and windy that I took my helmet off, put the hood of my hoodie on my head, and then put the helmet back on top! I was incredibly happy it fit; my ears would have frozen off otherwise. Then I got on Val, who felt energetic, but not crazily so. We started trotting around to warm-up, then cantered a bit.

In the middle of the arena, my trainer had set up a series of what would become one-strides with poles in the middle. Before they became jumps, we cantered over them, getting the proper stride length and drive that would allow Val and Stewie, the other horse, to "fit" in them nicely. Val tends to be short-strided, and Stewie has the tendency to go long, so we both had work to do. After a few tries, both of us could do the poles without trouble.

Then, the ground poles became small cross-rails one at a time, until we had 5 altogether with poles in the middle. I was definitely a little rusty, and my position was not the best. I have one particularly awful run when two cross-rails were set up where I got poor Val in the mouth pretty bad on the first one, then landed on his back, and then jumped too far ahead of him on the next cross rail. Fortunately, Val did not dump me on my head as I deserved. Oh, what they put up with from us humans!

Our last 3-4 runs went very smoothly. Val tried the whole time to trot between the first ground poles and the first cross rail, so I had to really push him forward to that, and we got it the last two times through. What was really fun was after the line, making the sharp turn (since the line took up most of the long side of the arena) to the left or right, depending on the lead you were on, and letting Val have a bit of speed, then setting him back on his haunches for another turn to go down the line again.

Although I've definitely lost some of my polish in the past month or so, it was really nice to see that I haven't regressed to an absolute pleb. Writing this, I keep thinking about when I first got Val. He used to not want to canter for me because he felt that I was unbalanced, and now this horse does walk-to-canters happily and gallops cross country exuberantly in my hands. Definitely makes me happy looking at how far we've come.
Val and I before our dressage at Briar Fox Farm, where we took 3rd place. Heh, perhaps this blog should be called sleepy-eyed eventers!


  1. Hey, dressage is tough work lol. Not as much as jumping. Unless you're working on sitting the trot for thirty minutes lmao.

    We had a dreadful summer. A record-breaking one in fact. Like 130 days of 100+ weather in a row? Something like that. It wasn't fun. And suddenly, we have rain and 60 degree weather constantly. I love it!

    The poor stalled horses at the stable have been in for almost three weeks now because the pastures don't get any time to dry out! There's about half with responsible owners who take them out as much as they can to ride and walk around. As for the other half, well.... I can feel good knowing that at least another boarder and I volunteered to be hired to walk those people's horses around. Poor babies.

  2. Oh, really? I don't think I realized that other parts of the US were having unusually hot weather... hmm. I love fall, and I like winter, but we're already having winter temperatures, with highs in the 40's! It's a little early for that, I think... not that I get a say.

    I hate seeing horses crammed up in stalls. There are a few people at our barn that don't really need to own horses; the poor beasts stay in their stalls 360 days or so a year. One of my biggest regrets was this one extremely old, mostly blind horse, Teddy. He was stalled just a few down from my horse, and although the people came and cleaned his stall and fed him, they never took him out. I really wished I'd asked his people if they would mind if I got the poor old man out and let him graze, but I never did. He died several months ago. I think I'll always regret not helping that horse have his last bites of grass before he went :(