Two weeks ago Orla & myself set out a plan, we thought it was finally about time we got both horses out and about & actually start doing productive schooling with them. We decided to bring them to Coilog, it was close to us, and the prices for Open schooling were very reasonable.(Click Here to book an arena!) We also recruited Sue Byrne for the day to give us both a jumping lesson!
To say both of our experiences were completely different is an understatement, normally Dante is the troublesome horse, but this time around he was extremely well behaved. Unfortunately for Orla she had a completely different experience, be sure to keep an eye out on the blog for her post, it will definitely make a very interesting read.
Unloading Dante from the box, I thought he would be on his toes jumping about the place, but no he was so relaxed, he took in his surroundings well but there was no buzz about him, it was as if he knew what he was here for and took everything in his stride. As I mounted up, he has that spring in his step, it felt great I wont lie!
The last few weeks I took Dante’s jumping back to basics, he was rushing everything and basically not listening to anything or any aids I would use to slow him down, it is safe to say all my hard work is finally beginning to pay off.
The Warm Up
Into the arena we went & straight away we got moving, It took Sue a good 15 minutes to adjust all the fences in the arena so it gave us plenty of time to get our heads in the game. With Coco warming up also, I was half expected a row from Dante, or a big napping fight from him to get over to her but he was great, he had a few looks at some of the more colorful fences & the signs around the arena but overall he was on point.
As Sue got everything set up, we warmed up one by one over a cross pole, moving It up to a straight. Some of our approaches to fences were good, some sloppy. To be honest I think we both just got excited, it generally takes myself and Dante a few jumps for us to get in sync with each other. (we are such a weird pair!) But as soon as we gel, there is no stopping us!
I really cant fault Dante’s performance. Looking at Sue’s shocked face when she saw how relaxed he has become, the last time she seen him jump he was literally bulldozing fences without a care in the world & needless to say without any brakes!
As we moved on from our warm up fence, Sue picked out fences through out the course to do separately before we pieced them all together at the end. These fences consisted of doubles, doglegs, oxers you name it. I can literally point Dante at anything & he will jump no matter how weird or colourful the fence is. When it comes to jumping he is in his comfort zone.
Dante led Coco into some fences at one stage, without a bother to him he done everything I asked, even stopping to let Coco continue on to do fences on her own! I really am so proud & impressed by Dante’s progress, lets just hope it continues!!
Jumping the Course
Both our fitness really starts to fail miserably when it comes to jumping a full course. After the 3rd or 4th fence we are literally in bits, I can feel his legs underneath me wobbling & well he can probably feel the same from me! Working on my rhythm & pace in between fences is my next goal. We are both quite sloppy in between fences, especially when it comes to tight turns before & after fences.
After Sue & I picked a course, I quickly realised a few of our bad habits. I really need to start sitting up straight away after Dante lands, I tend to stay leaned forward quite a bit It doesn’t help that Dante launches himself 10 foot into the air over every fence!
Dante needs work on his straightness, he drifts to the right a good bit in combinations, or really any chance he can get which at times makes me feel like I’m aiming at jumping the wing rather than the middle of the fence.
He began to nap towards a horse that walked into the arena in the middle of our round but a tap on the neck with the stick and he was back on track! This is something I would of been petrified to do a few months ago, he would of took off on me leaving me with no control.
We jumped the course twice, with the second time being slightly better than the first, trying to use the full arena, not to take shortcuts was key, he needed the extra space to gather himself between fences.
Overall I cannot be happier with our progress. We certainly have a lot more to work on when it comes to jumping a full course of fences. But everything I mentioned above is definitely something I can start working on at home.
That along with my jumping/riding position, OMG the hack of me in some of the videos!! I have really neglected that part of my riding. Now that all his behavioural habits are under control, my position needs to 100% be tackled next!
So hopefully over the next few weeks we will both start getting out more, you know what they say, practice does make perfect!