While there is still not much on the horsey calendar yet there are some rumblings of things starting up next month, yay! A couple of weeks ago when restrictions began lifting here, I suggested to my coach she run a clinic. I always get a lot out of clinics, we do flatwork first and then jump after a short break. I find it useful to put everything into practice in close succession.
We have been having beautiful weather here recently, cool and fine. Friday and Saturday were quite warm so I bathed both the horses and Coolie finally got clipped. He was a seriously hairy beast and I couldn't handle it any more. The clinic was on Sunday and of course we were forecast a huge storm (a 1 in 10 year event even!). It wasn't due to hit until the afternoon, and we were due to be done by 12 so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
I went into the clinic determined to put all my recently learnings into practice. I wanted to be effective, I wanted to be brave, ride forward and insist Henry do his job, rather than allow my nerves to takeover and for me to not be entirely present.
I shared a flatwork lesson with 3 of my friends and we got to work on getting the horses sharp off our aides. From the get go Henry was pretty good, he was nice and energetic and excited without being feral. II insisted he focus on me in the arena rather than being a tourist and it really set the tone for the day. Just right I think! After we got them tuned in we rode wiggly lines down the long side to supple them, and I needed to remember to use my outside rein to straighten Henry more effectively.
The main exercise for the day was 15 and 10m circles then going large and asking for a medium trot. Bec wanted to see a clear difference in their trot and for them to be straight and responsive. It took Henry a few goes, and I needed to allow him to lengthen through his body but we got it done fairly easily. Then we did 10m circles and shoulder fore which was so easy! Very proud of that improvement. We also did shoulder fore to renvers which was easier than it has been previously but still not easy.
To finish the lesson we did counter canter and Hen had no problems with it at all. We did quite steep loops and while we both had to work hard it all just happened very smoothly. Both reins felt very equal and while he is still a bit heavy in the hand he has certainly improved.
We had an hour between our lessons and the wind was starting to pick up a lot. Jumps were blowing over and there was lots of dust and sand getting blown around. Not ideal riding conditions al all. We all got on early, with the mindset of getting it all over and done with quickly. Henry was cool as a cucumber even when a jump blew down right next to him. He's getting very professional!
The lesson started with trotting down a line of poles spaced a stride apart focusing on straightness. Then a grid was gradually built up until there were three jumps one stride apart. Henry was fine with the grid and I worked hard to sit up and not throw my body, I have improved but it's still a work in progress. Henry was not convinced about the people standing on either side of the jumps to stop them blowing down. He was rather concerned about them.
Once we were done with the grid we moved onto a basic course. We had to keep things simple because we could only jump what wasn't going to blow down! However the course went well, I rode forward but held Henry to the base of the jumps. I made decisions, counted my strides and kept my leg on. It made a really big difference and we had 2 confident rounds. Henry backed right off into a skinny jump (I think it was the people on either side again) but I put my leg on and he went anyway. It was a big moment for me because previously I wouldn't have been that committed.
It was such a great day for us. Our lessons recently have been hard but I have been doing lots of the hard yards at home and things keep clicking into place in my head to help me be more effective. It felt awesome to put everything into practice and to come out with success, it was a big confidence boost for sure. Bec also said we can start jumping bigger now because things are getting easy and I am riding the best I ever have. The weather didn't phase Henry at all and if anything I rode better because I wanted to get it right and get home!
The rain started just as we loaded Henry, and we got home in time to throw a rug on Coolie. Great timing!