Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sit up!

A few weeks ago, I saw a comment on the COTH message boards about the things you can learn from watching professional eventers ride young or green horses cross-country at the lower levels of a horse trial. One of the writers mentioned how much she learned in just a few seconds by seeing Sharon White ride a squirrelly youngster down to a fence. She wrote that as the horse started to lose impulsion and back-off the jump, Sharon sat up very straight and tall and wrapped her legs around the horse and kept tight to the jump, with the horse looking but definitely not stopping.

I will NOT be riding like this in 2011!
This concept made an impression on me as I try to get Eddie back to good competition condition. His jumping this past year has been uninspired and erratic, with him either jumping quietly and obediently (making me ride more comfortably and confidently), or it has been spastic, wild, and completely uncontrollable. One thing that I KNOW about myself as a rider that I have been trying to change the past 10 or 12 months is that I will get lulled into the role of "passenger" if Eddie is going nicely and jumping everything I ask. That is fine and good, so long as Eddie always jumps "nicely," but Eddie doesn't always want to jump "nicely," so I need to be a more active player. I believe that Eddie is a good partner, but he needs me to tell him "yes" a lot. And, when I'm just being a passenger, that "yes" isn't always there, and sometimes it's more like, "Um...yes???" At times, that leads to a big, fat "NO" from Eddie. So, I am going to work on not approaching our fences by leaning forward and saying, "Yes....right???" Eddie tends to lay on his forehand as it is, so my leaning into our jumps can make for an awkward take-off (see my blog entry Answered Prayers for a detailed explanation of what happens when I jump up Eddie's neck). From now on, each time I come down to a fence, I'm going to channel Sharon and sit tall, wrap my legs around Eddie's barrel, and say "YES." If this becomes the norm, then there is no question that Eddie and I will be ready for the spring season without all of the anxiety that comes with early year jitters and rustiness. 

No comments: