Yesterday I set up a gymnastic – big surprise – and an oxer to school Tia over fences. She was fantastic. I started with three verticals and then made the second jump an oxer. Our biggest issue was a hard drift to the left through the line, resulting in our last vertical being jumped very close to the left standard. I rode straight to the first fence and then opened my right rein to steer Tia through the entire gymnastic.
After a few nice efforts through the gymnastic I moved on to the oxer. The oxer is set off a long diagonal approach off the left lead. When our turn becomes too wide, we end up with a weird distance. I worked hard with my outside aids to keep our turn tight and allowing a straight approach to the oxer. The first two efforts I sat up and rode to a deeper distance. Allowing Tia to jump long is pointless, she flattens out and doesn’t learn to jump correctly. Our first efforts paid off because our third attempt at the oxer was MONEY!!! I waited and kept Tia framed and then about three strides out I saw THE distance and it just flowed perfectly. I couldn’t have been happier, I’m pretty sure I was smiling from the time I saw the distance until I hopped off Tia. After the jump I let Tia trot around a while, giving her huge pats and telling her what a good girl she is. She loves jumping and it doesn’t take much to get her excited about working; but I feel the difference in the ride when she knows she’s doing something right. Her ears go forward, she relaxes more and listens better to my aids.
She amazes me during every ride.
Today I warmed her up and then crossed my stirrups for my work out. I couldn’t believe how much stronger my legs are feeling. I can posting trot without tiring for a few minutes and my legs are perfectly tight at the canter. I did a lot of Tia’s lateral work without stirrups, focusing mostly on haunches in today. I then practiced our counter canter again off the half turn in each direction. Tia didn’t even think about changing in the corners. I think it has helped that I haven’t pushed the flying lead change with her. She does it automatically when we jump courses, so for now I will still leave it alone. No need to confuse her by practicing both at the same time.
The one thing that was strange about our ride today was how forward Tia was. The walk-canter transitions have Tia a little worked up still and now she anticipates the canter, especially when I ask for haunches in. My next step will probably be to train Tia to canter from my seat instead of my outside leg. This will allow us to do more advanced dressage work without confusing the aids. The haunches in aid is inside leg at the girth and outside leg a few inches behind the leg – the same as how I ask for the canter. Training Tia off my seat will not only help me with dressage, it will also make her more responsive to my aids. As she learns the seat aid for canter, I can also start using my seat for our lateral work.
Our next step in jumping will be to put some small courses together. I want to incorporate some roll backs and angle jumps – which I don’t think will phase Tia. Now that she sits back and waits with me for the right distance and is developing her canter enough to slow it down and collect when needed, I think jumping some sharper turns will be an interesting new concept. The barn has been painting a lot of the fences and poles at the barn so I may be able to set up a few more fences later in the week! I will have some new videos soon