Dustry’s jumping education has not progressed as fast as a typical (issue free, non raced) horse, and we (my instructor Amanda Brewer and I) have spent a long time re-schooling and developing his way of going on the flat in order to lay strong foundations for his jumping training.
Now that he has successfully been out and about to a few little show-jumping events and taken that all in his stride we are beginning to work on improving his technique with more technical questions, such as grid work.
I packed in 2 lessons over the Easter weekend and the 2nd one we spent focusing on making him really work over his back in the trot and canter. This lead to some fab work and was the ideal set up for a grid at the end of the lesson.
We started with a x-pole to a pile of 4 poles grouped together on the floor where the 2nd fence would be, and he popped them so well. I could really feel the difference in his back’s flexibility, it was a breakthrough moment to feel the progress he is making with his jump.
We then built up the grid like this…
x-pole to x-pole
x-pole to spread (x-pole in front, vertical pole at the back)
x-pole to parallel (building it up to finish at 80cms/2’6”)
I need to concentrate on riding a good straight line into the fence, staying still and letting him, rock back onto his hocks in the middle of the grid in order to lift his shoulders and jump out of the final part. This was the best I have felt him jump…ever! So I am very pleased that all the careful prep work we have put in with him is starting to pay off.
It hasn’t been easy waiting and holding back on his jumping education, and there have been times when I have felt frustrated by the speed of progress, but if my experiences so far have taught me anything it’s that it pays to take the time at these lower levels/initial training stages because you will reap the benefits later.
I spent 2 years trying to correct the mistakes I made on Soap, and it is so hard to right a wrong, once it is a habit (for both horse and rider!)
I also feel that as an amateur one advantage you do have over professional riders is the luxury of time. There’s no pressure on me to produce and sell horses for a living, so no demands on how fast I need horse X to be doing Y, I can go at the right speed for my horse, and *fingers crossed* catch up with the pros a little later 😉