A Sunny Sunday spent Barrel Weaving

At the stables we didn’t end up “jumping into January” so much as walking smartly but at least we had correct bend 😉 So we are now “jumping out of January”, I could suggest “flying into February” but that doesn’t send the in control message that I believe we are meant to be setting! I think it is taking my instructor a bit longer to get us jumping fit than she had initially hoped coupled with the fact that a few of my group have any been able to make it back to riding in the last couple of weeks. So “flying into February” it is then!

Today’s lesson involved a pole…an actual proper pole people! Not a jump you understand but a pole on the ground, still it is approaching a jump. We also had barrels to weave in and out of. It was back up to (nearly) full strength for today’s class with 5 of us in the lesson. I was given Td, I won’t lie I smiled when I saw that. Initially he tended to ignore me a little in the lesson, only giving me cursory attention and instead preferring to gaze into fields and look at the other horses. I decided to work on getting him on my aids by generally doing walk/hat transitions, bending him either around the barrels or on large circles and trying to stop him from following any other horse. Adding in bursts of trot I was told off promptly as Td was still labouring around meaning I had to work on pushing him on and to be fair he responded well it helped that I took up proper contact on him with the reins, ensuring I could feel him on the end of the reins at all times as this is what Td looks for.

We did exercises bending in and out of the barrels in trot and then halted smartly as the top of the school. We managed that pretty well, my reprimand was for keeping my eyes on the floor too much rather than looking up but I did get him bending well with my body not the reins. Td was now on my aids much more and when we got to canter he responded like a trooper and we had a lovely rhythmical canter around the school then downward transition spoilt it a little but Td was very happy with himself.

Next up forward seat work. First in halt as my instructor checked our positions then tried to push us off our horses sideways (can you believe I pay for this treatment 😉 )! Td spent this time checking himself out in the mirror with a look of “you are an idiot” directed at me a couple of times.

The we were going over the pole in trot staying in forward seat for the length of the school. First go we were painfully laboured and I felt Td heave himself over the pole, I went to work on getting his activity level back up and on the 2nd and 3rd goes we improved each time. We then added in the weaving through the barrels meaning we went over the pole then turned on a nice curves and weaved back up the school through the barrels all in trot again maintaining forward seat throughout. This worked pretty well, Td and I were much more together by this point and he was weaving nicely for me and turning well. On the other rein we went through the barrels first then up over the poles, Td was definitely fired up now. On each go I had to firmly check him on each turn and on the approach to the pole which Td was convinced should be taken in canter. He was light in my hands and made me smile with his enthusiasm. I can imagine jumping Td will be fun and a little difficult to keep him from jumping everything he sees.

After today’s lesson I feel like some of the forward seat lessons are sinking in and the old memories of “eyes up, ride your line” surfacing again. Please do not remind me of this tentative anticipation when I actually have to jump something. During the week I will be riding on Wednesday as usual but I also plan to set up more of a routine with my yoga and forward seat practice to try to help with my position and strength. Oh and on a final note I managed to turn Td out in the light! It was pretty cold but bright and it is nice to feel the days getting longer.

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