Wednesday 26 April 2017

Adventures in HJ Land - Parts 2 & 3

I've been continuing to take my Tuesday night HJ lessons with Kt on a lesson horse.

I'm lumping 2 weeks of lessons into one post because I only took one day's worth of media and also Week 2 was similar enough to Week 1 that it didn't deserve its own post.

(Week 1: See this post)

Week 2

Not too Earth-shattering. I rode Donny again. He was hard to get in front of my leg again. I did a few small jumps. I did some no stirrup work, alternating sitting and posting at the trot, which made me tired but didn't actually kill my legs. The end.

Week 3

I was riding Donny again, but Kt my instructor was out at the other end of the property, and someone was using the saddle I had used the last two times on a different mare. Some of the barn girls were really helpful trying to find me appropriate tack to use, but it involved some running around and confusion. It makes me appreciate the simplicity of normally getting to use my own tack and my own horse.

Jumper saddle, a bit different from my normal ride ;)

As I started my lesson, I found that Donny was more willing to move forward than my previous lessons. I wouldn't say he was in front of my leg, and he was still a very physical ride, but there was a clear improvement from last time. I don't know whether it is because he has determined I can sorta ride, or because of the weather or some other factor that has nothing to do with me, but I appreciated it. I especially appreciated it because we did a lot of trotting, a lot of cantering, a lot of jumping. As it was I was already completely spent by the end of the lesson, I wouldn't have survived if I had had to spend even more effort on keeping him going.

Kt had me do some posting at the trot without stirrups to start off. It makes me out of breath quickly but I was happy to see that it doesn't cause my balance to go out of whack or my leg muscles to tire. I think she got bored of how much of a non-event it was because we quickly left that behind and moved on.


After a bit of canter warm-up, Kt started to set up fences. To start we trotted through a bounce with just one fence set up and the other two being ground poles. She then added a second fence and then a third. We were still trotting into it, with the goal being to trot in and canter through. However, once there were 3 fences, things got ugly. Donny wasn't really picking up the canter and so the jumps were messy and I was left wondering if I was doing something wrong. There was one particularly bad one where Donny tripped over the second fence and I lost a stirrup and kind of crashed into his neck going over the third fence. After that Kt came to the conclusion that Donny is bad at trotting into gymnastics and she's never really trained him to do that so we should never try trotting in again.

We then tried the 3 fence bounce entering at a canter. The theory was that I should be able to basically point and shoot Donny into the gymnastic and then just work on feeling the rhythm and figuring out my position while he got us through. Unfortunately, the first few times through Donny would take off long and then get progressively longer and longer distances until the third fence was a really awkward leap. It didn't feel nice going through and it wasn't really allowing me to focus on correct feel and position. However, while it might seem counter-intuitive, the botched attempts were good for my confidence. Things weren't going like they should, but it wasn't the end of the world, and I was able to stay on and keep from catching Donny in the mouth or back.

The bounces!
I know they are objectively tiny, but it was still kind of a big deal for this non-jumper :-)

After the bad distances, Kt had me get deeper into the corner before the fence to give me a longer approach, really keep my impulsion, and sit and bump a stride before the first fence. This technique worked and I could immediately feel the improvement in the jumps. We did it a few more times and I focused more on letting him come up to me for the jump and holding my position. We ended after an extra good trip through where I didn't need his neck to support myself at all, and everything felt like it came together nicely. This is by far the most jumping I have done in the last 14 years so that was cool.


  1. Sounds like you are enjoying your HJ lessons :) Donny is so cute!

  2. dude bounces are HARD, and they sure don't have to be big to drive that point home haha. also tho i know exactly what you mean about being able to grow more confident after things have gone a little sideways - like, "oh, this is what happens when i mess up? ok that's not such a big deal, i can do this, let's keep going!" it's a good feeling!

  3. Grids are so great for letting you focus on your position!