Tuesday 27 June 2017

Adventures in HJ Land - Month Two

This is a very overdue post, oops!

In April, I took 4 weeks of Hunter/Jumper lessons with Kt on Donny (Part I, II & III, IV). Then, in May, I took 4 weeks of Hunter/Jumper lessons with N on Sunrise. If I had done the recaps of May in a more timely manner, I probably would have had more to say, in a more organized manner. As it is you'll have to settle for some rambling thoughts on what I remember.

N is a friend, rider, and a local instructor. I've known her for a few years. She is a very thinking kind of rider and trainer. She is a hunter rider through and through but she appreciates dressage for how it integrates with hunters. She's a big believer in flat work and she has encouraged some of her students to participate in dressage clinics. She's a super sweet person but she also won't put up with any nonsense. I told her to just treat me like another one of her hunter/jumper students for the month.


Sunrise was my mount. She is a small quarter horse lesson pony (she probably is around the 14.2hh mark), she's got a bit of an attitude, pinning her ears while grooming etc., but she's well trained, super willing, and is pretty much point and shoot over fences. She required much less leg than Donny and I really enjoyed riding her. She also made me appreciate what saints lesson horses are, as there were a couple weeks where she was ridden in another lesson before mine.

Such a good pony

In each lesson we did a combination of flat work and over fences work. For the first lesson, the "over fences" consisted of trot poles, but by the end of the month I was jumping 2'-2'3" and stringing together a few jumps including a related distance. A huge amount of credit for that goes to Sunrise, as she was foot perfect and I could focus on my own position over fences without micro-managing my horse. Still, 2'3" is pretty good for me considering how little I've jumped in the last decade and a half!

All media from middle of the month
My hands felt ridiculously high here, but they really aren't

N was fairly impressed with my riding position and strength. She said she was comfortable asking me for more each lesson because I could hold things together pretty well. I really value N's opinion so it meant a lot to me to hear that. It didn't stop N from giving me a constant string of things to improve though.

Jumping ahead, but jumping!

Some things I learned during the month: (some directly from N, some from me trying out different ways of doing things and making my own conclusions, so YMMV)

  • Heel down, heel down, heel down
  • Let the horse jump up to me
  • Closing hip angle is just as much about your butt going back and down as it is your upper body going forwards
  • Keep upper body open, especially when landing from a jump
  • Focus on heels down when in the air
  • How to count canter strides before and in between jumps. I know this is pretty basic, but I don't think I've ever actually done it before. 
  • Don't tilt forwards OR back in canter transition (I would try and overcorrect myself and end up going the other way)
  • Don't lift OR drop my hands in canter transition
  • Keep my weight centered just behind the withers
  • Think of picking horse up off the forehand during turns
  • Hold my hands higher, higher, nope even higher. When I picked them up my upper body automatically opened. And when I felt like my hands were way in the air, they really weren't.
  • Difference between two-point and standing position of posting
  • Let ankles move to absorb energy

Did so much cantering, which was really good for me to do

I had a fun month with N and Sunrise. Overall I enjoyed my two month foray into HJ land. It was cool to do something different, and I picked up a few tips and the feel of a couple different horses that I've been able to bring back and apply to my dressage work with Kachina. I'll go back to long flaps and flat work for now, but it's good to know that I can do this again if I need a change of pace in the future. Playing around with some small jumps might be in Kachina's future as well!

Gung ho!


  1. Jumping would probably be great cross training work for Kachina!

    1. That's probably true, I want to try it but I'm a bit worried about changing things up right now when things are going so well

  2. Seems like it was a fantastic way to shake it up and test out new waters! You never know with horses when an experience like that will come in handy ;)

    1. It's nice to have an option for getting out of a rut if we need it

  3. Honestly, poles and small jumps have been the best thing for Bridget's canter and both of our fitness. Side bonus: I'm having fun too!

    1. That's really good to know. I've been in the mindset that I need to improve Kachina's canter before I add in jumps, but maybe that's backwards