Cantering This Way and That, Jump Lesson at SSF

Jumping Diary

 
I had my first jumping lesson with a saddle seat instructor (referenced [here]). Yeah, you read that right. It was her first jumping lesson also. Until now, all our work with Coach Courtney has been in her wheelhouse: driving [Hitched! & Maiden Voyage!], holding my paw [I Ride Milton!], even our walk/trot classes where at ASB shows [1,2,3].

So why did I go this route? I’m not asking her to help me with anything that I haven’t already done with other horses. In between formal jumping lessons what I need are educated eyes on the ground and moral support. She’s seen me at my worst and helped me do my best. A few jumps won’t faze her.

To help you keep the players straight. I had a jumping lesson with Molly McCown at her Falcon Hill Farm a few weeks ago. Milton and I did a two-pole canter exercise [Enough Retrospection]. Last Friday, I took Milton over to Stepping Stone Farm for lesson to practice this exercise with Courtney Huguley, the person from whom I have been taking saddle seat lessons since 2012. Got it?

Okay, we didn’t technically *jump* anything, except the pole once or twice, but it was jumping theory and technique. I’m counting it.

I wanted to break the exercise down for Milton. Trot both poles. Canter one pole by itself. Canter the second pole by itself. Canter both together. Reverse direction. Repeat. Coach Courtney was massively obliging about moving this pole, then that pole, then this pole again, then that pole again, then … then … She hath discovered the joys of being jump crew.

Milton had trouble meeting the pole on the correct stride. She said he looked like a person who was learning ballroom dancing and trying to sort out which foot went were. Exactly.

She asked what role position plays in jumping, I said the same role that position plays in asking a horse to rack. Beezie Madden and Michael Matz can make a grand prix jumper trip look like an equitation course. Other riders have a rougher style but get the job done.

At one point, Milton was flat and lugging on my hands. To which I responded by trying to haul him up with both hands. This never works, but one does it anyway. She told me to ‘Wiggle Up.” This is a saddle seat term, which means a quick left-right with the reins to set the horse’s head. I dunno the proper dressage terminology, or even if it is proper dressage, but it got him to quit laying on me. Whereupon, I became enchanted with the maneuver and cantered around the ring going wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. It worked as well as one would expect. I was advised to put it away until I needed it again.

Then, I pointed out how badly I was looking down at the rail as I went over. I don’t mean glancing downward. I mean eyes staring straight down to the ground as the rail went under Milton’s hooves. Next time around, she told me to ‘Look up at the pond.’, meaning the pond outside the ring at the far end.

Quit picking at your horse before the jump.

Look up.

Yup, we’ll make a jumping trainer out of her in no time.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Categories: Horses, Jumping, Lesson

4 replies »

  1. ha, like the above commenter, my first trainer was fond of saying “don’t bother trying to pick out your favorite spot on the ground bc you won’t land there anyway” lol…. still tho, sounds like a fun lesson! i’m convinced ground poles are often harder to ride well than true jumps, bc there’s no real consequence for the horse if they get there on the wrong stride, so they’re less likely to make their own adjustments if the rider messes up. compared to a bigger jump, where the horse might be like, ‘well the rider isn’t helping out at all but i still gotta figure out how to get over this thing so here goes nothing!’

  2. re looking down: I was always told that You go where you look.

    re poles: Milton thinks there are consequences for everything. Blase is not his style.

    re Coach Courtney: Yes! Given the arcs of our respective lives, it probably would not have worked out at any previous time. Odd that.

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