Whoo! What a weekend. The clinic was a great success, and Foster and I came away tired, but with some definite goals and advice to keep with us as we practice on our own.
The clinic included 3 lessons of any combination, and knowing my weakest areas (jumping), I opted to do 1 showjumping lesson and 2 cross country lessons. Day 1 was our showjumping and first cross country lesson. And boy, did we struggle at first.
Day 1 Showjumping
One of the first things Holly pointed out is that I was riding with a dressage seat, and I needed to lighten my fanny for jumping. Needless to say, after about 3 months of doing almost nothing but dressage, that fanny felt heavy, and I struggled to find my balance after being out of practice for so long. She also had me lengthen my rein and lower my hands, to encourage Foster to have a slightly rounder shape and therefore jump with better bascule.
The course included a few single fences, a 3 stride line, a 1 stride, and the biggest grid I’ve seen (in life). Foster has never jumped a grid like that, and normally when we do grids we build them up bit by bit. Not to mention, when’s the last time he did a 1 stride? (I’m sure I don’t remember!) Thankfully he was game, and we struggled through.
This exercise showed us that we could benefit from more gymnastic practice, to get him sitting, me waiting (and steering), and improve balance issues.
Overall themes included getting a more active canter (no surprise there), looking without leaning, and getting him straight to the fences. The latter is one of my biggest issues right now, as I don’t tend to take the time to get his shoulders straight at the approach to the fence, and then we jump crooked, or if it’s a line, drift through it. I will be working on this for sure!
Luckily we did end on a good note where I actually started to ride, but the video is sadly a bit blurry. Just a few jumps together, but beginning to see improvement. I do notice in these videos that my form over fences has suffered some from lack of practice (belly button to pommel!), but hopefully we will be able to get more jump schooling in soon!
Day 1 Cross Country
After Foster had a quick rest, we headed out to the cross country course. I was pretty excited to see what he felt like, but that didn’t keep me from being tense. I had mixed success with getting the tension out of my elbows, but Foster was an honest, solid citizen the whole time, which helped me relax more and more. Everything stayed pretty small as we revisited the basics… No, we didn’t always get our distance, and tempo was occasionally a mixed bag (though admittedly, mostly on the slow side), but I was very happy and got the confidence boost I needed!
Again themes of more canter and allowing him to come to the fence (this is a trust issue with me, left over from his rushing days), and relaxing my elbows. Watching the video I can see exactly when I lock up and when I start to relax my arms, and generally speaking, he looks relaxed when I look relaxed. Definitely something I’ve been working on for some time, and finally started seeing better results towards the end of the lesson.
Following cross country, we headed back to the barn and Foster got a much deserved dinner and I got to hang out with my fellow participants, some of whom are friends from our old barn! It was so nice to catch up with everyone, and hear how they are progressing with their rides!