Unfortunately my lesson on Wednesday had to cancelled as the rings were questionable whether or not they would be open. My lesson will now be next Tuesday, so in preparation I moved around some fences last night. The goal for the lesson is to put together more complicated (1 and 2 stride) combinations without getting rushed or discombobulated. So that’s what we practiced.
We set up a nice novice sized course (3′) including a fun Swedish Oxer at the liverpool and one training sized oxer (3’3″), plus a one-stride combination that was significantly lower (2′-2’3″?) and one two-stride line. Foster warmed up nicely and we popped over the novice sized fences without much fuss. I have really been wanting to see what he does at 3’6″, so after he took the training oxer a couple of times I hopped off and raised it up a notch. Standing next to it made it feel huge, but the approach really was nice. I just had to tell myself it was only one hole higher! Well, the first time he brought down the back rail (it was an ascending oxer). Hop off, set it up, and try again. The second time he made it over! Not necessarily over jumping, in fact we may have rubbed it just a tish, but I was so pleased! Foster’s got so much heart.
Then we proceeded to the combinations. Let me just say how very difficult it is to find measurements on how to set up these combinations online! Or rather, how to set up these fences at a height smaller than 3’6″ and not have to ask for gallopy long strides. I followed the instructions from this Practical Horseman article and that’s what I had to ride. So that’s 24′ from base to base for 1 stride, and 36′ for 2 strides. (6′ for landing and takeoff, 12′ per stride)
The one stride was massive! Ali said she has never seen Foster stretch like he did to make it. Foster is not tiny (15.3, maybe 16 hands?) and really had to work to get one stride in there. Since he didn’t chip, and came right back to me, I decided I would play with the set up another day.
The two stride also rode massive. Longest strides ever, but he did it. I came back for a second pass and had a fly-by at the second fence. Nothing nasty, he just started drifting right and somehow missed the second obstacle. Oops. It didn’t help that the jumps involved were the ‘scariest’ fences out there (for now!), neon green and navy chevrons with matching poles on top. Not the mention the wings on the second fence, an oxer, were actually barrels. So I came back to it again, keeping him between leg and hand, and were successful. Good pony!
Then Ali suggested I ride through it again and see if I could get 3 strides. Because we have not done many combinations I was hesitant- this would be a real test to see if Foster was adjustable, and definitely a test to see how far he has come since the days of rushing. Could I collect him in between the fences and ride it as 3 instead of two strides? So I came back at it with a nice bouncy canter and three strides later came out of the combination with the biggest grin on my face! Definitely a good note to end on.
I really can’t say how proud I am of my boy. Just in the last few months I can say he has shown me he can jump in a nice quiet (sometimes too quiet) rhythm, jump height without drama, and now be adjustable when I need him to be. I am positive that our lesson will be challenging, but that’s great. Excited does not begin to describe it!
I need to look more into how to set up these fences, especially before my lesson next Tuesday. So if you have advice let me hear it! And if you have ideas as to why these measurements ride so big I would love to know! Thanks in advance!