The rain in Texas this year has been relentless, but luckily the footing in each of the arenas has held up really well. We’ve been lessoning and schooling in the two smaller arenas the past couple of weeks, though, because (1) it’s been hot and humid as all get-out, and the side arena has more shade and the covered arena is well, covered; and (2) smaller arena means tighter turns!
What have we been working on in anticipation of next week’s horse show?
Flatwork – Our walk and trot are really, really nice — as in, trainer says each week that she doesn’t have any feedback on our trot work because it’s soft, forward yet balanced, and round. In the canter, we’ve been working on collection, “How slowly can we canter without breaking?” Collect and extend, collect and extend. Opening up Sabra’s stride is easy, of course, but collecting is often tricky, especially after she’s woken up.
Jumping – We’ve been schooling rollbacks a lot — jump, land, turn, jump. Earlier this year, we were inconsistent in turning tightly; often, we swung too wide and missed the inside turn. Lately, it’s started to come together, and we’re slowly getting more consistent. I just have to remember to keep Sabra from getting too strong before and after the fence, keep her light on her front end and weight shifted back, and then hold my outside elbow at my side when we turn. Oh yeah, and most importantly, turn my head and look! That’s key to committing to the turn. At the beginning of this year, committing to the jump was an issue at one show; now, committing to the tight turn is my latest hurdle. As long as I commit, (1) Sabra and I both know where we are going; (2) I know I’m thinking ahead; and (3) Sabra takes me seriously and will spin on her hindquarters. Really cool, but also really a fine line to figure out.
This past week’s lesson, we rode in the covered arena. First, we did a bounce — the first jump was set at 2′ and the second jump was set at 2’9″ – 3′. We worked on getting out of the horse’s way, staying balanced, letting the horse adjust itself in between and asking the horse to snap up its knees quickly. Really fun.
Then, trainer set the bounce so the jumps were at even height. The covered arena is pretty tight, so it was three strides, bounce, three strides. Trainer asked me to come in at a canter, jump the bounce, then immediately rollback and jump the same bounce going the other direction. We made some of our best turns ever, yay, progress! Now, I can’t wait to test our turning abilities in the show ring.