Firstly, I have a confession. I've done nothing to tame the crazy mane yet. Its flowing free, running wild, au natural. Hemie the hobo. =P
Moving on. This past weekend I didn't get a lesson, but did watch and support 3 riders from our barn competing at the Meadows of Moorpark Derby. All three did a great job in the Beginner Novice division - all three horses and riders exceeded expectations for performance. =)
As I walked the course with my barn mates and trainer, the jumps looked...big. >.< Beginner Novice jumps are only 2'7" at the highest, plus I've competed at this level, at this facilitiy, and even took home 3rd place! Why would these jumps make me feel so intimidated and overwhelmed? Is it because my XC on Spirit got so unpredictable? Or because I now have a horse that is green-as-can-be to jumping? Or both? Or neither? I remember a time, not too long ago, when Novice looked doable if a bit of a challenge. How sad is it that BN looks intimidating to me right now.
I had a lesson Tuesday night, and it went really well, considering I hadn't actually ridden Hemie since the last lesson. Firstly, let me please celebrate the small milestone that Hemie can now longe out in the jumping arena, not just in the round pen. He understands the circle concept, accepts contact with the longe line, and has figured out how we "travel" our circles around the arena to different spots. He really is a smart boy. But back to the lesson, I started off asking for more contact, especially going 2nd direction (tracking right), having my left rein as the outside rein - he is stiff/sticky on that side. We were feeling pretty well connected, but he started to fuss with his head just a tad. I thought to myself: could I release 1/4 pound of pressure from the reins and still be well connected from my elbow to his mouth? I tried it, and indeed I could, and it made Hemie happier. Success.
After about 15 minutes Hemie really started to relax - his back came up, his shoulders started swinging. We kept a good rhythm and felt very well connected.
So we decided to jump. He was game, and we worked on straightness and staying slow. He likes to stick his head one way and his rump another as we approach the jump. At first, half-halts and lower leg back seemed to help (but not fix 100%). But later on he added a severe drift to the body angling. We're talking high-class side passes here. To the right. So of course I fumble around with trying to "close the outside door" with my right rein and leg. How many times do I have to be told that that will not work! At least once more I guess. Laurie told me to turn LEFT, and that immediately took all the gas out of his motor. Poor Hemie had a confused look on his face - you mean we're not allowed to just go sideways all crooked? Ah, adjusting to life outside of the racetrack. Anyway, I'll continue to work on it.
Meanwhile, Laurie mentioned that we should take Hemie to a show, not to compete but just to get him used to the clapping and the smells and sights and excitement. I would think that if he can handle a racetrack with hundreds of fans and hot dog stands, he could handle a horse show. But I've learned to always take Laurie's advice - that's why she gets the big bucks. We'll hopefully do that in the next month or so, as we've picked out our potential FIRST SHOW!!! It's not set in stone yet, but we've got our eye on the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association's hunter jumper schooling show at the end of July. Classes as low as you want (literally, poles on the ground if you like), and about as cheap as they come!