Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jumping Legs

Mo had a terrific flat ride yesterday--in the bridle, on-point leg yields, relaxed canter. So M and I decided that for my lesson today, we should, you know, jump some jumps.

And then I pulled into the driveway and saw this. And said, aloud: "Ohhhhhhhh shit."

All jumps please report to the centerline
I actually really love this exercise, and I was psyched that she thought Mo was ready for any part of that. As with all of her jump schools, there are various exercises with degrees of difficulty built in, and I figured she wouldn't ask him the very hardest questions. So I walked into the barn like "LET'S GET READY TO JUMP, MO!"

He was thinking more along the lines of bedtime stories.

I have hearts for eyeballs when I look at this.
So I was all, "Good idea, buddy! Rest your jumping legs. I'll get your tack together and you can get up and stretch and then we'll be ready to go."


Foaling out, there, Mr Belly?
But not to worry. Once I got him up and in the ring, he was forward and happy. I was very pleased. M was riding her young horse too. He's about a year ahead of Mo in his training, but we can do jump schools together sometimes and she can choose the harder options or hike the jumps up another hole when I'm done. I always enjoy the schools where we ride together because I get the instruction and I also get to see her do the exercises and learn. Plus it's fun because we get along so well.

In case you can't tell from my mediocre pics, the line went: chevrons (which we didn't jump but M did later on her more advanced horse), vertical (started out as a cross rail), liverpool (started out with rails on the ground on each side and eventually became a cross rail oxer), vertical, square oxer, vertical, skinny with a block under it. Mo has historically not been a fan of skinnies with stuff under them.

I made him step over the liverpool at the walk and then we both trotted figure 8s over the X. Mo actually took a hard look at the X the first time, which was weird, but we carried on. Then we each did three circles on the left lead over the center vertical. Mo kept trying to break to the trot, and the theme of the day was established: Get the snoozy horse in front of the leg. I mean, that's the theme of his entire life? But when he was in front of my leg in a canter I liked, I could see a distance. When he wasn't, I found that I'd get too far behind the motion and drive him to something, which isn't good. Ideally, I stay with the motion and just keep him in front of my leg. And then, honestly, the distances just show up. For as green as he is, when his motor is running, his canter is really good and jumping is easy for him.

We cantered right lead over the second vertical three times, and that was necessarily a tighter circle because of where it was in the ring. It was fine, though, as long as I kept my leg on through the turn. Then the real work began: Right lead over the first vertical, turn left and jump the next one (making square turns to get straight to the jump), then right over the third vertical, then loop around left back to that vertical and serpentine back down the ring so each jump had been jumped once from each direction.

This was hard for Mo, because things came up fast. If I stretched up tall and kept my leg on, it went okay, though he doesn't always give me the proper lead in the air (no worries, we haven't worked on that at all). But he really did well if I kept him forward. M did the same exercise and also did a set in which she angled each jump. Mo wasn't ready for us to try that so I just watched. Her horse did an incredible job of following her eye. He's going to be a superstar.

Next she had me canter the center vertical, turn, gallop almost all the way around the ring, and then come to the skinny on a long approach, after which I'd make the short turn back. Then I'd repeat the exercise the other way. Mo said no to the skinny at first, but then he was okay after that. I really have to keep his motor running, but skinnies are tough because you also have to steer better. On a horse more broke than him this isn't an issue, but it's a balancing act with him still. He eventually did really well with it. Finally, I'd start with the skinny from the long approach, turn to the square oxer, and then turn back again to the liverpool oxer, then serpentine back up the ring again. It was hard, but he did it. These are the kinds of jump schools that turn into a big step forward for the horses.

The feeling I get from him when everything clicks into place is phenomenal. I can't wait to see where he is in a year.


  1. So cute lying down. I love when horses do that and mine almost never do.

  2. awesome exercises - i've only done something similar with maybe four jumps across the centerline, but it had more to do with being in a super tiny (20x40m) indoor than anything else.