one, TwO, ThrEE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

So, Jimmy has been telling me in my last couple of lessons that it is time to take the next step and start riding Birdie. This may mean, legs on or off as circumstances dictate. I know how to ride, I understand that. He also told me I need to work on my riding between fences. I’ve made progress in that direction – well not as much as I thought, but I know now.
Last Thursday he had me count to the fence and after. Seems easy enough, right? Well it was all I could do to count at all. There were four fences set at angles, two oxers and two verticals. We were to jump each one each direction, alternating leads. Okay, now I have to think about counting, and decide where I’m going to the tune of 8 consecutive fences. Oiii. At the same time, my Bird is rather strong between fences, so I have to ride?

The first thing Jimmy said is to think about what you are doing, while you are counting, you are not counting in rhythm with this strides and your voice is getting higher pitched the closer you get to the jump. This means your body is changing and he can feel that. Righto, I think to myself. The Bird is getting stronger there and I’m in a sort of “help me” mode. So, I’m still trying to figure out how to do these 8 fences in proper sequence and count to the rhythm to my horse’s strides. This is hard, I say to myself, but I’m not the type to get yelled at about the same stupid mistake over and over again. Besides, self – You learned to count when you were 3.

How do I get to the fence in the same rhythm on a horse that wants to speed up? If I pull the reins he goes faster, running through the bit. Hmmm, just like a racehorse. I think I need to put him together, just like a baby going to the pole the first time. When youngsters learn to breeze, if you don’t put them together, they take more strides and become tired quickly – they lack balance. If you push them into the bit and then soften at the pole, they take bigger strides which is the correct way to open up a horse. They learn rather quickly this is the best way run. To get to the fence in rhythm, it takes very similar aids. I think this is because balance is the key and without rhythm there can be no balance.

So here’s what I learned. Counting showed me how much I am not riding my Bird. The important thing I learned is that although he is speeding up to the fences, I need to put much more leg on him to keep him together. This in turn keeps him from speeding up and maintains the rhythm to the fence. I did get it. I can now walk and chew gum at the same time – sometimes.

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