|What I CAN do, when I'm not saying "Oh Crap!"|
Although I am thinking "Oh crap,
why is my butt in the saddle?"
One of the things we thought might help me get past the "Oh Crap" refrain that goes off in my head when I jump courses would be to concentrate on jumping small single fences or elements (combinations) rather than entire courses. When I rode in a Jeff Cook clinic a month or so ago, he recommended the same thing.
The thinking behind this is that by having me concentrate on "bite-size" goals, such as maintaining my rhythm and pace over small fences, and achieving successful repetition over small "scary" fences like oxers and triple bars and triple combinations, I will build my confidence to the point where tackling a course won't be overwhelming - it'll just be a bunch of single jumps strung together.
I had a heart to heart with my trainer who, bless her heart, was okay with this plan. The last couple of lessons have been great. It started with one where during our flatwork she had me lengthen Sug's canter, making sure I kept her in the bridle. Something clicked and Sug gave me the most AMAZING canter. My trainer said, "Yes! That's the canter you want to go down to a jump with!"
Huh?? What? This is the canter? This particular one? Where has it been? How the heck is it that am I only grasping this now?? It's sorta like the magic canter I got in the Eric Horgan clinic, but a bit more powerful and maybe a touch faster, without being fast. Maybe the word is impulsion? I wasn't allowed to stew, as my trainer told me to come around and head to a vertical off the right lead while maintaining the canter.
I maintained the canter, and Sug stayed round and cantered ebulliently down to the jump, which we took in stride. We did the vertical a couple times in both directions, and got pretty darn nice distances every time. Then we took on a 5 stride line. I kept the canter, but got in a little bit deep. She was able to jump pretty easily even still, and moved right up off my leg to get the 5 strides with no problem. Wow! Mistakes are a lot easier to fix when you've got a little power underneath you. Who knew??
So we've had a couple more lessons since then, jumping onesies and twosies and working on my rhythm and the canter, and the ability to adjust her stride. Which, by the by, is a lot easier when she's in the magic canter. Again, who knew?
A funny thing happened. One of the fences my trainer asked me to jump was teeny tiny, and for the first time EVER I asked her to raise the height of a fence. That's the beauty of this going backwards thing. I'm not scared of the fences, I'm having fun, and for the first time I actually WANT to jump bigger. I actually ASKED to jump a triple combination!!! Whoop Whoop! Go ME! Now, I'm not saying I'm ready for a 3' course yet, but heck, I'm moving in the right direction.
I'll keep you posted on how we progress.
Thanks so much for reading!