To the Left, to the Left

Sunday was another grid lesson, since almost no one has been able to jump their horses in the past few weeks. I don’t know when it happened, but somehow I’ve found myself on the horse that is great even after a vacation. Weird. Any-who, I was still totally ok with a grid, because I wanted to do some more work to get Val using his back better over fences, and also to get him snappier with his knees, since he’s been a little lazy with them and jumping over himself. The bonus extra was working on his right drift and working on keeping him more to the left as he went through the grid.

The grid was set up with all one strides, and once the whole thing was assembled we had a trot pole, to a cross rail, to a vertical, to a low, (sort of) wide oxer, to a really ramped oxer.

We schooled with a variety of other horses, including a hunter, a couple of green bean thoroughbreds, and a been there done that dude. This meant that the jumps didn’t get too large, but it was still a really good school for us.

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Behind the motion, and not letting my horse use his head and not because my release is catching him a bit over the fence.

Since Val tends to try to drift right out of the grid, I usually warm him up on grid days with lots of leg yielding back and forth to make sure he’s respecting and understanding my aids in that regard, and I also do a lot of moving up and coming back, so that I know he’ll be adjustable in the tight spaces in the grid. Especially when there’s only 1 stride between each jump, I want to know that the moment I bring my shoulders back he’ll rock back and leave a little more room, or if I put my leg on a little more he’ll open up to make the distance.

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A smidge ahead with my leg slightly too far back, but over all a much better balance and release over the fence. Note that Val is now able to poke his little nose out a little more and use his whole back.

As always, we built up the grid one element at a time. Val was a little speedy, but otherwise brave and mostly straight, so I worked on staying with him over the jump, without over breaking down at the hip, and tried to keep my hands and release independent from the rest of my body. When I give a big release, I tend to jump ahead and lay on the horse’s neck, and I worked really hard not to do that.

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A little scrunchy on that right side, and my upper body isn’t straight because of my opening rein on the left. I need to get better at closing the right leg without moving my center of balance. But the low, wide oxer is doing its job.

Eventually as the jumps got bigger, the right drift started to return, and it was not helped by the guiding rails on the left for the hunter who was drifting the other direction. My right side wants to scrunch up anyway for whatever reason, and trying to push my horse to the left makes that problem so much worse. I tried to be very conscious of encouraging my horse back to the left, while still keeping my right side elongated. This was more or less successful, but when trainer moved the rails to the right, it got much better.

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Stupid broken wrists again (the habit that just won’t die!) but other wise a really nice balance, looking straight ahead, and Val snapped his knees up really well and got nice and square with an even push from behind. A-.

Trainer also pointed out that after the last jump I was actually landing leaning on my left stirrup, ready to turn right. While this was probably more self-preservation than anything, since I was anticipating my horse going right, it was also causing the drift to be worse.

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I said it didn’t get that big, but a few days later I realized it was on hole 11, which means it was still around 3’9. I’m kind of excited that that didn’t actually seem that big. Now to improve my leg so it’s more stable and useful over fences as things get bigger.

On the last time through I thought really hard about landing even and going straight and wouldn’t you know it, the turn was much better. Not great, but better for sure.

I hope you guys don’t mind this media heavy post, because seeing these photos and breaking everything down sure helps me to know what to work on. My trainer does of course point out issues, but there’s nothing like a still photo to really help you nit pick. I’m trying to remember to point out something I like, as well as things I don’t. Sometimes that’s easy to do, and other times not so much.

The next two weeks are going to be used for super horse show prep. We’ve got a little one-day schooling show next weekend where we’ll just do the 3’3 division to knock off the rust, and possibly the one extra class they run for anyone who wants to school a little bigger, and then the weekend after we’re in San Antonio again for our 3’6 debut. I’ve got every ride for the next three weeks planned out so hopefully the rain doesn’t put a damper on those plans!

12 thoughts on “To the Left, to the Left

  1. Jenn

    I think you guys look GREAT! Sure, there are tiny things you want to improve, but I think the overall picture of you and Val is a really effective rider and a horse that loves his job, with cute knees to boot 😉

  2. Glad it’s dry enough for you to ride! I think your rain must have moved north, though, to my area… 🙁 You guys look great. The more you ride, the more Val will be that horse you can let sit around and still be broke and amazing!

    1. In the past year or two, he’s really turned into a grown up horse! He used to give me three really bad rides before he was a useful horse again every time he had a vacation.

    1. I guess depending on the horse, that could be a good place to be. Val’s jump is so lofty, that when he brings his hind end up I end up sitting up too early and sometimes causing him to drop a rail from there.

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