Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jumping Lessons Day: 1

Yesterday was day one of my newest endeavor... jumping. Personal trainers have nothing on a riding instructor. Truly, I haven't felt this sore for years. We worked on 2 point position the entire lesson. And...wow... my thighs and calves felt like jello after about the first 20 minutes and I rode for about 75 minutes total. It felt great, but was a horrible realization of how terribly out of riding shape I am. I have been kicking up the riding the last few weeks, but not this kind of riding. I had to shorten up my stirrups by 4 notches on the left and 5 on the right. Guess Delaney isn't the only one with one leg shorter than the other.

McCue has jumped in the past, but I was not the one to teach him or do any formal lessons with him. Macie is planning on taking McCue to fair this year for hunter under saddle and jumping. This is my very first time of doing jumping lessons. I have taken him and other horses over cavalettis, but never actual jumps.

Joy is my dressage/jumping trainer. She is truly one of the most experienced horse people I have ever been around. Her talents are many and her horse knowledge is priceless, but you would never know it by talking to her. She is a great example of what "horse people" should be. Humble, patient, positive, encouraging, without ever talking down to her students. She brings the language down to the level of the students.

We started our lesson with going over some single cavaletti focusing on correct 2 point position, speed control and not falling off! I have been posting too high and need to focus on posting lower and letting McCue determine how high I should be posting. I do feel like that was going better by the end of the lesson. My other problem is turning off the "horse trainer" in me. More than once, Joy had to remind me to leave McCue alone and just ride. She said my only job (at least to begin with) is to just be "neutral". I need to be in a position that I don't hinder him from doing his job and figuring out the puzzles that we are jumping. He and I are truly learning this together. What a blessing to have Joy to help us learn these very important foundations. So many riders I know never learn to do these things correctly or safely. Joy makes our lesson so easy, that we cannot do anything but the right movements. She makes a set of grids that leads us through the jumps without having to question anything but just sitting there and going through.

McCue is learning to pick up his feet, strengthen his topline, be more flexible and be bold enough to go through these series of jumps/puzzles. I can see where these lessons will be incredible for his confidence. He has come a long way from the unconfident nervous horse he use to be. He questioned some of the bigger cross rails we went over and tried ducking out at the last minute, but Joy quickly nipped that in the bud and put a cavaletti down so it would be a mild barrier from ducking out. Could have possibly been a disaster if I was by myself and didn't know how to correct that.

So, my assessment of the lesson was very positive and tons of fun! I can see why riders get addicted to jumping. I have been doing so many controlled disciplines, that it feels good to do something really fun for both of us. HUS and dressage are great for his and my foundations to be ready for jumping, but wow, what a rush when we went over the first substantial cross rail that made him tuck up and actually launch himself over. And, because of Joy helping me with my 2 point position, I felt very confident going over.

I always knew McCue and I had big things ahead of us together, but never thought we would be doing jumping. Him, at 12 years old, out of shape, slightly a chicken about new experiences, and an open show phenom....and me, a 32-yr-old wife and mommy who hasn't rode much in the last few years and has been very comfortable with having my "horse experiences" from a teaching view. The last 9 years has been an incredible journey together, this is sure to only make it better...

1 comment:

Nichole said...

this all sounds fun and scary at the same time. If I don't hear from you in a while...I am checking the local hospitals for horse jumping injuries.

Keep up the good work as a student.