Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Jumping Night

Last night was my first (riding) training session since Alison left for her hiatus. Ann is basically Alison’s 2nd in command and I’ve known her pretty much since the day I started at Apple Tree, however she had never trained me before. In the early Fall when I was still riding late Friday afternoons, I had a couple (Steve & Jennifer) in my lesson. Over the course of the months I’ve become pretty friendly with them. Since the schedule has been changed up for Winter, Steve has ended up in my Tuesday night lesson, but Jennifer rides on another day. Anyway, last night before our session I was asking Steve what Ann is like to ride with and he said, “She’s tough. She made Jennifer cry once.” ACCCCCCKKKKKKKK! Of course you have to understand that this is coming from the guy who once told me that he imagined my life is much like a “Mary Tyler Moore” episode, so there it is.

Anyway, the reality of the lesson was that I found Ann very insightful and very effective. I also have the added benefit with her that she knows Lulu really, REALLY well as she did a lot of the initial schooling and training on her when she was first acquired by the barn. So it was a jumping night. The last jumping night I had had, I had almost fallen off. Seriously, I was hanging by a thread, but managed to stay on by sheer will mostly. Luckily Lulu had stood still enough that I was able to hoist myself back into the saddle somehow, the alternative would have been falling on top of a jump, which probably would have hurt somewhat. Anyway so, even though that night I had continued on to jump a bunch, I was slightly nervous last night. Not scared really, just a little edgy. So, last night ended up going very well. Lulu has this thing of getting very speedy and strung-out while jumping, we’ve had many a jumping round that I have felt was slightly out of control. I mean, not flat-out, bit-in-the-teeth out of control, but much faster than necessary and fast enough where I have become a little bit more of a passenger than anyone ever should be on a horse around a jump course. So I’ve been working on keeping Lulu slow and balanced and quiet over fences. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes not so much, but it’s always in my mind while jumping her and is something very specific that I’m trying to improve.

So Ann was pretty committed last night to working on this with me. Constantly reminding me to balance Lulu, slow her down, quiet my body, lift her up and get her off her forehand (as she tends to get very heavy on the forehand, particularly in corners and on landing over fences). She was very active in keeping a conversation with me as I performed each jump course, and with immediate feedback directly after and I found it pretty helpful. By the end of the session I really felt that we were getting somewhere. And now tonight I have another lesson (with a different trainer) so I’ll get to try it all out again and see if some of the stuff Ann helped me with has stuck with me. If not, there will always be more lessons, it’s always going to be a work in progress, after all. Still, I feel pretty good about our experience overall, I feel like I am making progress. Sometimes pretty slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

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