I'm a week behind in posting but last Saturday I had a jumping lesson that brought tears to my eyes. The good kind.
It was a gorgeous day and we suited up for jumping in the cross country arena. We worked on straightness and slowness. Hemie would break to canter and run at the jump for the last 3 strides, so we worked on keeping him slow. Laurie said that he's allowed to break right before the jump (1 stride) as he is figuring out where to put his feet, but he only gets that last stride and its my job to keep control of rhythm and pace before then.
My most recent aha moment kicked in several times - I'm able to correct his swinging haunches by using legs only and keeping my hands light. He tried to bulge out a few times out of excitement, so we circled to correct the bend and then approached at a walk. I could feel his aha moment, figuring out that going slow and straight actually helps. I'm so blessed to have such a fast learning horse!
There were 3 moments in our lesson that really indicated our partnership has entered a new level of trust. Each single one was amazing and I'm still floored that we had 3. This is a very special landmark for us as a team.
First was when we came to an oxer that was a bit higher than what we've been jumping lately. It was probably 2'6" and we've been sticking to crossrails and the 2' or 2'3" area. As we approached, Hemie squiggled right, so I corrected with my right leg to straighten, then he squiggled left and I used my left leg to straighten, then he squiggled right again and again I used my leg to straighten. And then - he jumped! I was so proud of myself for being the confident rider he needed me to be - to tell him clearly that he needed to be straight, that he wasn't going to be able to dodge out, and in return he trusted me and went over the jump. He didn't even think about refusing. And I realized that I could start trusting him to go over, even when he gets the squiggles.
Next was during our schooling with ditches. Ditches have been awkward for us - and its been months since we've worked on it. We introduced him to a liverpool first and then a small ditch. He was a very fast learner. Then we had a ditch followed by a small jump maybe 3 strides away. I had to give him his head over the ditch so he could look at it and hop over, but as he cantered towards the jump his hip swung right and I corrected with right leg. However, I had a moment of major awkwardness; apparently I can't move my leg while also lifting my torso and gathering reins. I was completely discombobulated and then...he jumped anyway. I fell onto his neck - reins flapping in the breeze. He seemed to say "Mama, don't worry, I got this" and hauled us both over.
|Imagine the poles and liverpool removed from the ditch.|
I was too lazy to remove them for the pic.
It was one of the proudest moments of my life. Being saved by my horse. Such a sign of maturity - that he knows his job even when his mama fumbles the set-up, and that he likes his job enough to do it even when not in perfect circumstances. This is the kind of horse you need for eventing - the kind that will cover for you when you mess up. He could have stopped. I would have gone over his head and into the jump. But he didn't. He saved me.
Gonna save the third moment for tomorrow's post. Hope you're having as productive a weekend as I am!