Good news everyone! I followed through and dropped my stirrups. Amanda is a witness. 🙂
So today, it was freezing cold. Like literally freezing. Still Amanda and I braved the cold because ponies. I’m just glad Audio is fuzzy so he wasn’t too cold! Bless that horse. He’s such a good teacher.
To start our adventure today, I walked and trotted a little bit. Nothing extraordinary. Then, as promised, I dropped my stirrups for twenty minutes. I did a lap of two point at the walk to warmup my calf muscles. Upon examining pictures of my ride, I noticed how far in front of the saddle I was. Something to fix next week, I suppose. But at least my legs were gripping in the right places. Then I did some posting trot without stirrups. My goal was to make it around the arena at least once before I took a walk break because let’s face it: I’m old now. I can’t trot without stirrups quite like I used to. I did meet that goal, though, so I am proud. Most of my walk break was spent changing directions and changing Audio’s bend, so at least I wasn’t being lazy.
After that, I picked my stirrups back up. I wanted to trot a little more before cantering because Audio’s got old man joints. So after two more laps of trot, we cantered. He has a beautiful walk to canter, so I need to improve my asking for it because it took a couple tries to get it right. My outside leg needs to go back and I need to lift my inside hand, I’ve discovered. Getting a good pace out of him is hard, though. His logic is that he is in retirement now, so why bother. It’s totally fair. Audio was a grand prix horse; he’s earned his easy job. It makes him a great horse to teach beginners on, so he really earns his grain. It just tells me that I need to work on my leg, which I have been at the gym, but I just need to work harder.
Amanda was kind enough to set up a line of ground poles for me to work on my eye and stride adjustment. The line was five strides. Megan and I have discussed the mathematics behind seeing a distance and having the space and time necessary to make adjustments. A rider needs at the bare minimum five strides to have an impact in the approach and take off to the jump. So it was a lovely coincidence that Amanda set the line at five strides! It was a great visualization for seeing the distance five strides out. I was able to make adjustments to Audio’s stride and get the distance I wanted.
Honestly, I should have quit while I was ahead because the ride wasn’t so bueno when I schooled around a few jumps. The barn is hosting a dressage clinic this weekend (which Amanda and I are auditing, so stay tuned for that) so Megan left only three jumps set, two verticals and a crossrail. They were set in a sort of pinwheel shape, so the arena was very open for turns. I did a hunter style course forward and backward to really explore my ride. I tried counting out loud to see my distances, but I didn’t have much success other than the ground poles, and even that was questionable. Then I did the pinwheel exercise as intended, per Amanda’s suggestion. I did the crossrail, circled, did the outside plank, circled, and then finished on the inside plank. The first ride through wasn’t great. I tried to circle for my next approach and ended up taking down the jump (and yes we caught that on film). So my last time through proved decent enough to end on.
Things to work on for my next ride:
- More no stirrups. Because stirrups are for suckers.
- More ground pole exercises because holy distance
- Circling at the trot and canter
- Seriously, I need to drop my stirrups.