Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Piece by piece - our lesson at Windurra!

Fair warning, this will be a longer post that really dives into details so I can have an in depth account of my XC lesson yesterday. Mostly because I feel like Tillie and I are in another growing pain stage where we are pushing more outside our comfort zone to improve, so it feels a bit discombobulated. But I want to revisit this for my own merit so this lesson takeaway is my new mantra until we get it right.
Dressaging earlier this week after a storm...

I was so excited when Dom finally got back to me upon his return from his travels early Monday and said he could do a lesson Tuesday at windurra farm. With our approaching move up to Training this weekend I was really wanting one more jump lesson...and I was happy to jump on it being an XC one too since I feel the most unprepared in this phase at this moment. 

So much water...but we needed it!

 The ground was perfect after the rain we've gotten and boy did we need it. The ground has been so hard this season I was a bit concerned about continuing many events this year. But we finally got some rain so walking around at Windurra right away I was happy with how much better it was.

Tillie sees jumps in our field...this will become our homework after yesterday.

Its been a while since seeing Dom, and I admitted to him that Tillie and I feel like we've reverted to some of our bad habits...also mostly because some of my trust has slipped in her after the fall despite it not really being her fault. Ive fallen into the trap of trying to help her too much which allows her to lean on my hands and brace which helps no one. Dom laughed and understood completely and agreed when he rode her too shes a bit tricky regardless in that she does seek out "help" and used the most perfect analogy and it also happens to be the very theme of this lesson and the forefront of what we will be tackling:

Stronger or hot horses tend to make a rider want to ride half halting or holding all the time, similar if he said "hey, the brakes in my truck only work 1 out of 3 times you use'll probably start break checking quite frequently to ensure you can stop" 

Warming up

The trick is getting out of that mentality as far as horses go and use the other tools you have around you to get them to balance and slow down. So for us Dom wants me to start relying more on my turns and the approach to get it right and not fall into the trap of straight approaches and using my reins to get the right distance. 

He made another excellent point that we need to find the happy medium between always me trying to get the perfect distance and letting the horse figure it out, but that comes with time and practice.

Get the gist yet? :) 

Basically in a nut shell, stop using my half halts so frequently. Let Tillie make the mistake at times, but also let her carry herself. Use the turn to get the right distance and sometimes it will require pushing for it to get deep rather than holding the canter back. 

Love my lessons with Dom!!
Breaking it down

 If you arent bored to tears yet, Im going to go ahead and post my videos and break down each portion we schooled and what we worked on.

Warm up:

Here Dom is discussing using my turn better to get the distance. I went a bit too far out for his liking and wanted me to turn a bit closer so we dont have so many straight strides for the purpose of this exercise:

A little bit better, Tillie is still very excited and pulling at this point:

Using the turn finally the way Dom wanted us to and using my body over hands to set her up:

Putting together two jumps and incorporating turning

The first time through we achieved what Dom wanted at the first fence, but the second we had a bit of that flying distance Tillie likes to do if I hold too much. I probably needed to half halt harder on the outside rein father back in the turn, then be quieter:

Second time was better even being on the wrong lead:



Just a warm up over the small one which Dom wanted us very collected.

He wanted us to come back around and open up our stride more over the larger ditch then ride to the brush, but we didnt quite get there and stayed too compressed.

So he had us do it again:

It was at this point I believe he was starting to get me thinking about related distances and riding more prepared for the second fence rather than the first thing we are jumping. It didnt quite set it until a bit later.


Corners and Skinny - Oh My!

Here is where we started really breaking down the accuracy question a skinny jump presents. Dom had me start with smaller logs and practice getting the right ride before sending us right over the larger wider skinny brush. He did have us walk up to too to present Tillie to it and introduce her. 

Basically Dom said this one you want to ride sitting in the tack. You use the turn, get your ride and push to it but most horses will run out right at that last stride when most riders start to get into a 2-point. So he stressed to really ride it until her front legs lifted. 

Hey - we know I have no issues riding defensively. 

The next goal was the type of approach to it for your horse. You need to have just the right canter, not too forward or too compressed, but they need to be between both legs and pushing right to the base which we sometimes get that flyer when overthinking this...

Like so:

 ^^ basically exactly NOT how to ride it

So we try again and kind of over did it:

So Dom encouraged just find something in the middle:

He was satisfied with that and then sent us around to the double brush skinny:

Not going to lie, I feel pretty bad ass for accomplishing this one!

LOVE this still!

Before I could relish in how awesome it was, Dom sent us around to ride the corner to the skinny. He broke down how to ride it and it was definitely a more skinny and true "corner" than any other one weve ridden before:

You can see we hit the flag pole so my leg came back with it a bit...but Dom said he was impressed with our recovery.

Big wide jumps then compressing for tight combos

Next up, how to ride a larger wider fence then compress for the tighter shorter stride combos we may start seeing at Training level. Dom warned me the first jump was much larger then it appeared so I needed to have a nice forward enough canter to it to make the width and let her gallop a few strides but use a quick half halt but be soft and get a compressed canter for the one stride at the angled roll / offset roll tops:

We got in a bit too deep so we came back just to do these again:


Ditch combos and how to ride them

We moved on to a baby ditch combo where Dom said for these, you dont want to come in too under powered either because the one stride for this was quite longer. He also warned the jump had a bit of a downhill landing so not to let myself get pulled forward like I tend to happen when I hold too much with my reins:

Tillie put her foot in the ditch this first time lol, so we came to do it again, but otherwise Dom liked the ride and approach.

Second time:

This way coming in, made more sense to me as a rider. I struggled a bit more when we came back and did this combo in reverse. Once again, too much holding and trying to get deep or that perfect spot:

So we try again to no avail since my response was to try to sit her back more:

Dom finally said something that clicked about getting to the base doesnt always mean wait or sometimes means the push. So we try one more time:

Dom was pleased with this one and said we came in a similar way all three times, but the way I rode it changed the way the combo rode. Try more for adding the leg not bring the canter back...which for me is sooo hard when I am lacking that trust in Tillie. 


Water Complex

Just a nonchalant warm up:

After the fence in the water Dom wanted us to do these skinny brush fences in a line around to a water combo. which we got a bit stuck at the brush fences when we ran into the same issue of Tillie not wanting to wait.

Part of it was being unbalance with the wrong lead around the turn, but Dom has us do it again and make it educational for her:

So we came back one more time just to set it in stone:

Which finally was our get out of jail free card to continue to do the water combo which Dom pressed to make sure I keep my eyes up and not let them drop on landing (another bad habit of mine) and really keep my shoulders up:

It went quite well! Dom did say he was pleasantly surprised with how well I stayed up and didnt get caught up with getting pulled forward with my shoulders. Tillie got quite excited with this combo!


Corners Bending line

We ended the day with two corners on a slight bending line. The first attempt we took a bit long spot for the 5 but Dom didnt completely dislike it, but wanted us to try more for a controlled accurate distance and add for the 6:

All in all, I am proud of Tillie being so game...and doing well despite my slight hesitation. I am not quite on my A game like I have been earlier this season, but I am starting to feel some of my mojo come back. I wouldnt say I am nervous and scared when seeing jumps, But I am back to riding defensively. So I need to work on trusting Tillie again and I DO believe when we get there, my position woes will also come with it. 

Our homework is to go home when we can and jump outside the ring, in a field where we can use the turns to help with distances and focus on not pulling so much. When Tillie does use other tools to get her to listen. 

1 comment:

  1. Do you ever get distracted by his accent? I think I would get mesmerized and forget to listen to what he was actually saying.

    You guys are looking good and now I am really wanting to jump...