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We Are Flying Solo

March 25, 2013

The Becky Diaries: Day 10: Stadium Jumping

It was time to put it all together.  Adjustability, focus, position, balance, and accuracy.  All without running over Scrappy.  Yeah, I think you get kicked out for that.

We started out as we do with David -- a simple, tiny pole you canter in both directions.  Your goal is to be in a consistent rhythm, be steady in your position, soft with your hand, and have your horse in front of your leg without galloping around like a nutball.

Although apparently, you are supposed to approach jumps with a straight horse.  Sheesh.  So picky.

Next, we find our rhythm and pace to another single jump.  Keeping the straight approach and your position, settle and commit to your canter rhythm and just. ride. it. no. matter. what.  I was apparently confused by being in the XC field so I decided that we still needed to gallop fences.  Tiny show jumping fences. 

Becky, however, did not see any need for a 15' stride to a 2'3" fence (I wanted to be REALLY sure we cleared it!) and had us bring it down a notch to, say, a show jumping canter.  Crazy woman.

Then came something new for Encore:  a short bending line.  The first time through took some seat-of-my-pants steering (what, leaning doesn't help?) and he did some greenie foot-shuffling, but it improved each time until we finally got my eyes and both our bodies on the same page and he understood the question being asked.


With our eyes tuned up, it was time to put a few jumps together and NOT lose the rhythm, focus, and balance by thinking ahead and preparing.  No celebrating what you just jumped, no sigh of relief, no worrying, simply, ok, next this.  I honestly thought I would have to work hard to steer from a wide triple bar to a skinny vertical and that my horse would fall apart and rush after the wide first jump.  Colour me pleasantly surprised.

THREE jumps, with Becky emphasizing planning and waiting for your turn after the skinny to give you the squarest possible approach to the oxer, ENSURING your horse's hips are lined up just as we'd worked on over the warmup pole.

Finally, we get to our course.  Encore was very good; the hardest thing for me was staying mentally focused -- my tendency is to lose my brain about halfway through the course.  Becky made an excellent suggestion of picking the points on your course where there is some space between the jumps and bring your horse back like you were starting a whole new course with the next jump being your first.  It was a really effective mental exercise for, erm, ADD overthinkers like me.  *guilty*

We were given the option to be done at that point, but I wanted to fix our messy bit of the first four jumps.  I resettled my brain, promised my mentally tired pony we were nearly done and fixed it.  Well, the second time.

I think that is actually the first time Encore has ever bucked!  To be fair, I was trying one link tighter on the Pelham chain since he'd nearly ripped my shoulders out in the snaffle the day before.  It worked VERY well and I needed to be lighter on it than I was.  My leg strength is getting much better in PT, but we are still working on lateral muscles and I am just starting on rebuilding my abs so I do not fall back in the saddle as much after the apex of the jump.  *more guilty*

But to say I am proud of Encore does not even begin to cover it.  He came to the paddock gate and loaded on the trailer 20 times in 10 days without a single protest.  He tried so hard every day and never once tried to purposefully evade work; his protests were limited to explaining to me when things were hard, which is fair enough.  That horse knows how to WORK and caught me a little off guard by bringing it at a whole new level of pressure.  All I can say is...



  1. Love all the video and your willingness to share it! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  2. Awesome! Becky seems like a great teacher and a fun person: "You wanted more sass to that canter? You GOT it!" Lol.

    I really like her comment about sitting down like it's the beginning of the course at certain points. That's a good way of looking at it and resetting your brain so you don't get all strung out.

    Man, now I want to JUMP! :-D

  3. You are welcome, Amanda!

    And Frizz, she is perhaps the best teacher I have ever worked with. She's very positive and super generous to the horses, but won't fail to call you out -- still very fairly if you are repeating mistakes. She is also a ton of fun to be around and truly loves the horses and what she does.

    The "restart" button was so so so helpful, it really is a great strategy as that is a BIG weak point for me! A course can happen so quickly that just taking a breath for two strides can change everything.

  4. I have absolutely loved being an armchair spectator for your lessons with Becky. You need to write a book because you really explain it so well! She does sound like a fantastic teacher, one I know I would like since she's so positive (I'm a real "pleaser").

    I am going to file the "restart button" idea away with "things I MUST REMEMBER on course." That is a brilliant way of looking at things. I am the worst... I hold my breath, panic, forget where I'm going, etc. and that might really help me adjust my thinking. THANK YOU, and thanks to Becky, too!

  5. RW, you're welcome and I HOLD MY BREATH TOO! This is something I started recently and I don't know why, I need to quit. I talk so damn much the rest of the time, I don't know why I suddenly feel the urge to clam up on course!