Back in the Rhythm

I had my second lesson with Megan tonight. This one was a private lesson and I rode Case again. The time I've been spending at the gym this past week seemed to pay off while I rode, which was definitely a good thing! I think my legs are still going to be hurting tomorrow though!
This week was a lot more like what I expected last week to be like: my flat work was decent, but when I started jumping I felt like a wet noodle. I warmed up on the flat by myself, and then Megan worked with me on some basic dressage- making different sized circles using leg yields. I surprised myself at how well I did this, not ever having tried it before. I really did it with no problems at all.
After that we moved on to jumping. It took me a few trips to get warmed up and sort of get myself together. Like I said....Wet noodle there are first. I really like Case. He's sort of a funny horse in that he gets bored easily, but will suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, get a burst of brilliance. We went from trotting along, then suddenly walking to the stonewall vertical, hopping over, then dashing to the coop, and me nearly being jumped out of the tack over it. The few lessons I had at Robert Murphy's last winter really helped me improve my seat and my balance, allowing me to stay on good old Case when he decides to go from walk-trot pony to Grand Prix jumper in seven-ish strides. It definitely wasn't all Case, I need to work on getting back in the rhythm of jumping.
When I realized I wasn't going to get jumped out of the tack and could ride through those jumps things did start to shape up. I relaxed, which makes all the difference in the world. I am also getting better at reading Case, so I know when he's Big Brave Eventer mode, rather than I'm-really-bored-because-we're-not-jumping-5 foot-and-so-I'm-going-to-trip-over-this-vertical-if-you-don't-use-a-whole-lot-of-leg mode.
Part of my initial issue was that for some reason it is very awkward for me to jump from the trot, which was what Megan asked for. Jumping from the canter is much more comfortable for me. I've read that this isn't an uncommon problem, but it's still frustrating not to be able to pick up that rhythm so easily from the trot.
Other than issues which stemmed from being out of shape and not having ridden in several months(almost all of them...) I was pretty pleased with the ride. At one point I took a turn a bit wide and went at my fence a bit off center. I knew I was off center, but I didn't really think of it, because I would rather have a clean jump at an odd angle than try to get him centered over the jump just so and throw off our flow. So I just straightened him out and rode right to it. Case jumped it beautifully, my form was great, and Megan was thrilled because I had jumped a much more difficult angle and did it well. To be honest I wasn't really thinking about doing it when it happened; I just did it automatically because it made sense. She was really happy with how I did keeping the horse straight to the jumps, and she was also pleased that I kept riding to the fences and correcting to make the subsequent jumps work, even if the first one in a line wasn't perfect. I was really happy that even though I started out feeling completely "off" that I got myself together pretty quickly.
All in all I think it was a good ride and I really enjoy riding Case. He's such a sweet horse and has a lot of personality. Already looking forward to next week! I really love the challenge of jumping and working out a course (granted, right now they're pretty small courses). I wish I had started jumping a long time ago. Although I do still love riding saddle seat, and definitely intend to show Saddlebreds again at some point, I just seem to get something out of it that I didn't get from riding saddle seat. And it is so much fun!



I forgot to add earlier, I found out today that I have an exciting new neighbor: Olympian Margie Engle. She is one of the winningest Grand Prix riders in the US. I guess she is here for the summer to show at the Horse Park. Maybe I'll make Margie some cookies. :)

th First Lesson

Today I took my first lesson with an eventing trainer, Megan Lazarone at CEO Team Eventing (coincidently Megan is from Ashland and also started out riding Saddlebreds... small world). I've been riding hunters for about a year now and my interest in three day eventing grew with leaps and bounds. After spending a long weekend at Rolex I decided I was ready to give eventing a try.

For any of my friends who are reading this that don't know, three day eventing (or combined training) is a competition that takes place over three days (duh) and the horse and rider are tested in three different disciplines. Day one is the dressage test, day two is cross country, and day three is stadium jumping. Eventing requires both horse and rider to be at the top of their game.

Today for my first lesson I rode a Thoroughbred named Casey, one of Megan's veteran event horses. I was really happy to find that I didn't feel as "off" as I thought I would, even though I hadn't been on a horse since late February. Megan said Casey wasn't as forward today as normal, and my legs really got a work out, especially doing our flat work. I rode with three older-than-me ladies who are beginners. This was fine with me the first time out, since I wasn't sure how slick I was going to be after three months off.

I haven't ever done much dressage work, but I did manage to have a few nice side passes both ways of the ring. Jumping also went well. We just jumped two lines today: a line of crossrails to a crossrail and a vertical. Casey is a really nice jumper (I believe Megan told me he does four or five foot), and I got after him a bit and he was a lot of fun. He gets a little strong on the backside, and you can tell he really wants to haul ass.

It was actually a much better ride all around than I expected. My seat hadn't suffered too horribly and I had no problem with my releases. I picked up all my leads but one where I got sloppy. I think all the time I have spent watching the top show jumpers lately has paid off. I wish I had more opportunities to watch top riders on a cross country course. At any rate, it was a great start in a new discipline, and I cannot wait to ride again.

What struck me most today was how friendly and helpful everyone was. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. Megan, the working students, the people boarding their horses, the other people taking lessons, the kids...everyone was super friendly and genuinely willing to help. I have been in several barns over the years, where I considered the people to be great, but I have never seen anything like this. I am so impressed, they tell me this is the norm in the eventing world. I know I've made a good choice.