Jack and I had a big weekend, full of learning and jumping all the things.
Friday was a semi-private lesson, and we worked on developing the shape and canter that we’ve been working really hard on.
Jack is tricky to ride mostly because he can ride like so many different horses all in the course of one lesson- bold, backed off, and everything in between . So our goal recently has been to find one canter and try to maintain it throughout the course.
In search of this canter, I’ve had to learn how to keep more contact with his mouth, and with that extra contact I have to back it up with more leg. Keeping him packaged in this way keeps him round, and keeping him round makes the shape of his jump better. A rounder jump is the key to a clean round for us, because it’s when the jump gets hollow that we get rails.
One of the problems that we have in maintaining that idea though is energy. Jack was understandably tired at the end of our lesson on day 1, so on day 2 (a private jumping lesson) he came out feeling even more so. And when he gets tired, he gets very difficult in the bridle, going against my hand completely and overpowering me with his size. So it was a tricky lesson on day 2 to try and get him soft, and we attempted to use bend to flex his neck so he couldn’t use it against me. You can really see some of this struggle in the video below- homeboy wouldn’t even come round at the walk because he was fighting me so.
Ideally, we wouldn’t have such a tired horse to begin with, so the other tact is going to be incorporating true conditioning work into our routine. Besides our weekly showjumping lesson and dressage lesson/schoolings, I’m going to do my best to work in trot sets twice a week.
We’ll start with 3 sets of 4 minute trot sets, with 2 minutes walking in between. Then 3 minutes of canter with the same breaks. Hopefully at the end of 2 months we’ll have built up to 4 minutes of canter, for a total of 12 minutes canter. This fulfill’s Jimmy Wofford’s belief that a Novice or Training horse should be able to slow canter twice the time of their XC course. Seeing as our XC courses tend to be 5 1/2 minutes, we should be more than able to meet that criteria by the end of August.
Gotta love having a plan- and hopefully this will result in a stronger, fitter version of both Jack and myself!