Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fitting 3 Months into One Post...

... is not going to happen. So for now, lets just forget I ever neglected my blog and move on shall we?

Last weekend I popped Cadence in the trailer and we headed off for a day of lessons. Our morning consisted of an hour long dressage lesson, and the afternoon was a fun-filled jump school. Cadence had a few weeks off for a winter holiday in late Dec, and I've been careful to bring her back slowly so that we don't end up with any injuries. As a result, we'd only had two real jump schools preceeding our lesson, and I was a little concerned about her overall fitness. The mare was phenomenal though, and even after a rather gruelling dressage session in the morning, came out swinging for the afternoon session.

Cadence came out pretty tense and jumpy when I first hopped on her. We didn't even bother attempting stretch trot, and instead stuck to focusing on stretching in the walk and acclimatizing ourselves with the scary new indoor. And while the first part of the ride was far from our best work, she settled into it relatively well resulting in a half-decent ride overall.
In the dressage lesson, Ian emphasized a few key concepts:
1. I carry my right hand slightly higher, and hold tension in that elbow in response to Cadence's tendency to lay on the right. This is especially challenging when going to the left, so he made me carry my right hand down on her crest to help break the habit, and suggested I think of it more like a side rein.
2. She may be sensitive, but she has to accept my leg when I put it on, and not go careening madly off in all directions
3. Don't get into fights with her forcing her to slow down and collect. Push her on to get the necessary impulsion and balance, and then use half-halts to alter the stride length (and rhythm, when applicable)
4. Don't let her call the shots. Keep her focus on me, and keep her guessing. Similar to our last lesson, we had directions being shouted at us every five seconds. Neither of us knew where we'd be turning next, how fast we'd be going, where we'd end up, or how long this would go on for ;) The 'I'm just going to barge off now. Ciao!' behaviour that Cadence likes to pull when she gets frustrated.

By the time I'd pulled her away from her hay for our jump lesson, Cadence had settled a bit and was much saner when I hopped on for the second time. We started off the ride reviewing what we'd worked on in the morning from a jumping perspective, and then after warming up over a cavaletti moved on to some basic grids. Cadence attempted to bolt through the grids at warp speed, but rather than correct her Ian had me ensure she was balanced and then 'let her fall on her face'. As long as she wasn't going to jump the bounce as an oxer, let her crash her way through till she backed herself off. After a few run-throughs she did start to back herself off,so we moved on to some other exercises, all with small (2'-2'6) fences, that kept the focus on relaxation. Once we were calmly cantering through whatever he set up, we moved on to some course work over slightly bigger fences. By this point, Cadence had remembered what jumping was, and settled into the work like a pro.
Overall, in spite of the slightly less than impressive start to the ride, we had a fabulous jump school & Cadence even gathered a little crowd who were impressed with her "jumping skillz" and disappointed she wouldn't be heading south at all.

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