I hadn't jumped Midge since the horse trials the Sunday before last, so I was actually a little excited. When I saw who my lesson mate was, I was excited, but slightly worried because she is awesome, but she is also a much better rider and jumps much higher than I do. I dislike feeling like I'm holding the lesson back, and on the flip side, I also dislike feeling pushed too far out of my comfort zone :)
The course we had set up was bigger than I normally ride, but smaller than she normally rides. A good compromise, because it also included some interesting bending lines, tricky turns, and some awkward distances to keep things interesting for everyone.
Our warmup fence went super well...Midge was motivated and kind of excited! First time in a while it's felt like she's really taken me to the fences.
|Our twisty course|
We started out just adding the oxers on a figure eight pattern. Repeat twice. I won't lie, they looked big and scary to me (but only 2'9" with maybe a 2' spread for you brave people). I rode very positively, Midge rocked it and I was grinning from ear to ear...it definitely felt like an effort for her, but not a difficult one. For me, I was told to shorten my stirrups a hole or two, which I did, and suddenly life became much easier as far as keeping my heels down and my hips back. I normally like riding at a longer length because Midge has such a big barrel, but it seems shorter is best if we're going to jump a little bigger.
We moved on to the course above, where I instantly had trouble from fence 1 to 2...that pesky right shoulder was drifting away from me again. So, we got a weird line and a really awkward distance, but Midge jumped and was told she was a super pony for being so honest. Re did the line with much better results, but still that shoulder was a bit drifty. Rest of the course went super well, except the 4 stride would have been nicer if I didn't add for 5.
Did a little flatwork to address that shoulder, and it became apparent Midge was really, really, wanting to show off how much she'd been thinking on shoulder in and travers from our dressage lessons last week. Silly pony...she was super crooked and bendy the entire lesson, so it was good we worked on jumping aka forward and straight!
Second run through of the course went well..until it didn't. We jumped in short on the 4 stride, EC was yelling forward, so I attempted to go for 4, got no response, tried to fit in 5 at the last minute, and again no immediate response so we basically plowed through the second and both ended up in the dirt. Somehow I stayed on, but I felt terrible for Midge. EC being the eventing coach she is, was all "pick up your canter NOW and go jump the oxer!" OK then. No time to think on things. We did the oxer super well, and Midge still felt confident, so we took a short break and ran through the course again, with much success...pony waited and did 5 strides, and went forward for 4. Good Midge!
Midge skinned a knee in our little adventure, which I feel pretty crappy about. EC says not to worry, she needed to learn to listen to me, but I think she's unfairly putting all the blame on the pony - my riding was less than stellar.
On the plus side, Midge was attacking the fences and felt more confident than I've ever seen, so our XC adventure last weekend must have really boosted her confidence. Ont the downside, I hope I didn't kill some of that confidence last night!