Drop Bear: Thylarctos plummetus The Drop Bear legend tells of a large, arboreal, predatory marsupial related to the Koala that 'drops' on its prey. Don’t walk under trees or you might get got by a Drop Bear… or me. Not sure which is scarier.
Twice in a week, honestly it makes me wonder about all those people who never seem to fall off when I seem to fall off a lot! Although prior to last year I rarely fell off unless I made a mistake. These days it’s probably my mistake but not always my fault.
Last night Henry and I were doing some fitness work up the back. My canter track/fire break has been extended and we can do a fab loop with terrain and long straight bits and it means we can do some decent canter work. Anyway, we were trotting along and two birds flew off the creek, Henry spooked and I was in the dirt. Luckily it was a very soft fall and I hopped back on and worked very hard on my position and realised that while I thought I was secure prior to the fall I really wasn’t.
The ride gave me a really good feel for how my position should be on Henry, and it’s quite hard work. I think I don’t have to work so hard on Coolie and it has lulled me into a false sense of security (ha!). I also came to really understand that it takes a bit for me to get to that correct point, my muscle memory isn’t there, and I feel like I need to warm up as much as Henry. I think that’s probably why I fell off on Sunday, I thought I was secure, but I wasn’t and I wasn’t warmed up enough!
I think I touched on this a bit in my last lesson and now it seems to be consolidated in my brain, and now I need to get the muscle memory to try to avoid falling off even more. It has been added to the list of things to achieve over summer, along with get Coolie fit, do more pole work, jump spooky stuff, and desensitise further. I really want to move away from endless flatwork drilling for both the horses while still maintaining progress. I have been working on my own fitness and have already noticed a difference but I really need to get stronger too. Something that will hopefully fit into life better over summer.
Last night’s ride also saw an impromptu jump session to ensure Henry was feeling confident. That was a big learning opportunity for me too, because I have been having a really hard time keeping my leg secure. It’s awesome with Coolie but terrible on Henry and while it’s probably a bit to do with the saddle, it will also be a bit because the horses are different and I ride them differently too. Long story short, after tuning my position up and being very strong and secure, my leg was secure over fences, and I realised I need to work on my release more. So more homework: warm up me before jumping, get really secure position, sit up straight and ‘over’ release. When I did this things clicked into place for us and my position didn’t get in Henrys way.
I started out jumping plain Jane poles and then got Andrew to add in fill to try and catch Henry out. He definitely looked at some things that were a bit weird but I was on to it and rode effectively. That was really missing on Sunday, I felt more a passenger on reflection. Henry was great and felt fine so no damage done, and I know that when we go out next I really need to own my warm up.
No matter what presents itself in the warm up next time, I need to get my heels down, my calf on and sit back. I need to canter in two point and have Henry moving forward. I need to ensure I can move Henrys should, that he is in self-carriage and straight into the contact. I need to make sure my hands are following and that we have a half halt easily available. Henry needs to be kept busy while my body warms up and I need to make sure that when I put my leg on he goes immediately.
Here’s to not falling off more than necessary and always learning something from the experience! On the bright side I’m not scared of falling anymore.