Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Importance of Seeing Distance...

I am looking forward to going to the US to spend time with some of my extended family. I actually, can not wait...
Lesson today with the Boss was a turning point...literally...that, or we were just really on point. As always, Joyce is such a positive influence on me. Not just in my riding, but overall as a human being. She is always calm, cool, collected and ALWAYS sees the bright side of any situation. She has faith in me (as a rider and someone who is good at what I do in my professional life) and knows I will be able to find something much closer to home for the next step in my career. In her words ' who REALLY wants to commute 25 hours a week anyways?!'...I owe a lot to her: for making me want to ride better for her, for turning me into a better rider for Chester and for always knowing I have her to lean on when it gets tough...and trust me - it has been a rough week so far in terms of my spirits, but I remain positive...especially when I come away from today's lesson on such a high.
Within the first 5 minutes of our lesson, Joyce's reaction was, "wow, he looks relaxed". And he was - I have been working at not bothering him as much and letting him do his thing...which is really me asking him to do his thing...anyways...We continue to work on straightness, we continue to work on impulsion and my damn left hand!!!!! I always curl it....I am going to try holding my crop in my left hand to see if it makes any sort of distance. Our half circles have improved, I am still fighting with myself a little on our circles with my outside rein....sigh...who knew riding a damn circle was so effing hard to get right?! It always amazes me how good of a coach Joyce is. I could give you about a million examples, just from today's ride, but this one sticks out in my head the most. We're trotting around,circling here and there and she yells out to me 'Open your knees a little and let him move' soon as I did - I could feel his entire body and back just instantly come up and under is amazing what that woman can see...and more importantly, relay what she sees to me in a manner that I actually understand. = GOOD COACH. I have to be 'stronger' with my contact/half halts in our upward (and downward) transitions to and from canter. Joyce 'HOLD HIM, do NOT LET HIM POKE HIS NOSE OUT' Ughhh - I have a hard time with the right amount is 'ask' with my half halts - but by the end of the lesson the transitions were much better.
We continue to work on his front end...and getting him to use his body more properly...I will explain. Boss is setting up our jumping line. At first, we had a couple small 'x's' set up which we approached on an angle from both directions. Then onto a one stride. Notes so far: shorter reins, PATIENCE ( when the jumps are tiny like they are now 2'9', I have to let him take me over the fence...more on that later), better release. Then, Joyce lengthens the distance. She says to me "Come through the line, count your strides, I am not going to tell you how many it is." I look at it and knowing that we have been trying to get him to lengthen into his stride, I sort of gage it to be a long 2. I come through and do a completely horrible job and put in 2 1/2 strides. Not good. I look at Joyce, she says 'So, when you know you did 2 1/2, what does that tell you?' Ummm - a long 2?! Joyce: NO!!!! a SHORT THREE!!
This is her explanation. She is trying to train me to see the distance better. On an awkward distance like the one we did today, she said I need to get him closer to the base of the jump in - MAKE HIM WAIT- sit back and get three bouncy strides in between. This will help us with a number of different situations.
1 - It will help him get his front end up and out of the way. My horse - although I love him to pieces - is NOT that natural jumper who has good technique. He needs help. I, as his rider, needs to provide him with that help...meaning, I have to see the distance better and help him get the best jump possible.
2 - Closer to the base of a jump (on the jump IN) is better on an awkward distance...especially when those jumps are 3'3 solid logs that do not fall down.
3 - KEEP THE RHYTHM THROUGH THE so so important.
4 - As Chester's pilot, I have to sit back much MORE in between the fences to make sure he doesn't get all sprung out and then jump a 'flat' jump out = sticky situations.
5 - Most importantly, by keeping him together and bouncy, ALL his energy will be in his back end, making for a better jump out and minimizing the chance of us getting into trouble.
All in all, we are making strides in becoming a better team. Joyce put it into perspective for me today. She basically said this: I have only had him for a year and for 4 of those months, he was recovering from an injury. Another 4 months when I first got him were our growing pains months, so, really he has only been in true 'work' for 5 months...and what a distance he has come over those 5 months...I mean, a week and a half after he was off for 4 months, he went to his first event and if it wasn't for us getting a whack of time faults on xc, he would have come 2nd... can't complain about that at all eh?
Oh Oh Oh Oh!! Next week's lesson...WILL BE IN THE NEW MASSIVE ARENA!!!! SO EXCITING!!!!
My favourite quote of the day from the Boss: "I think he is going to do really well this year."
Have a great weekend everyone - Chin up & kick on!!

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