As I’d done yesterday, I woke up early, fed Paddy, made coffee, and went off to watch the prelim plus group at 8 before my own group at 10. Cool and misty, the fog came on little cat’s feet to cover the whole of Holly Hill: you couldn’t see but 10 feet in front of you. Thank GOODNESS we weren’t trying to do cross country today!
I came to the stadium arena to find no one there; I was a bit too early. A lone rider was warming up in the covered arena, so I went to watch her. It was Donna Struke and her lovely horse River Trout, trotting long and low to relax both horse and rider. When they reached the end of the arena, I could only see a misty outline of horse and rider, silhouetted in the mist. The world was blanketed in the heavy mist; I melded into the mist, hearing the rhythmic beat of the horse’s hooves like a heartbeat of the world, and the only other sound in the muffled stillness was the blowing of the horse, who was obviously enjoying the cool weather. It was magical, serene, other-worldly. What a phenomenal way to start the day.
Today the riders started with related distances again, but then moved on to accuracy questions. Karen noted that riders don’t have to trot first, or do an “x” first.
The riders began by cantering the related distances they’d done the day before, and then having a contest, seeing who could get the most strides in a five and seven stride combo. It was pretty impressive; every one of these riders had their horses “in hand” and “up”.
Riders were reminded to have a “long leg with weight in your heel”. “Lower leg stillness is the key to jumping,” Karen quipped.
Direction was emphasized yet again (it is, after all, the first rider responsibility!). Push into the horse’s shoulders to hold the line of direction.
After the related distances, the riders had to “thread the needle”—jumping a series of off-set jumps so that they had only two or three feet straight area to get through all of them.
“These are stupid pet tricks!” Karen shouted. “If you are jumping straight, there’s nothing to it!”
Riders were encouraged to be “more in the middle” of their horses, and to keep their heels down so that the soles of their boots faced the fence. Nice to hear Cathy and Karen admonishing the prelim-plus group for the same things *I* get yelled at for!
“Be soft in the take off” both Cathy and Karen said. That will help us land more balanced, more WITH our horses. But don’t land collapsed; hold with our quads and our core.
After they threaded the needle, they jumped a barrel on its side, and then upright with a skinny rail on the top. VERY impressive. The riders had to control the line of direction, and to lead the horse’s forehand to what (and where) the rider wanted it to go.
“Don’t put your upper body where you want the horse to be!” Karen encouraged. BOY, do I need to tattoo those words in my brain!
More accuracy=more “in the saddle”. I need to think about that.
Cathy encouraged riders to finish downward transitions with their LEGS, and not with their hands. That makes sense; it’s all about the engagement.
One rider complained “you want me to control all my body parts at one time?!”
Karen quipped “They call that coordination!”
“You’re not steering! Remind me never to drive with you!”
“There’s gotta be a push and a steer!”
One of the horses was having a bit of a tizzy, and they put the horse in a micklem bridle. Really interesting. I think I’d like to get one!