First of all, Rudy was fabulous today. Per usual. About 3 times a week I like to take him out on the trails that surround the property. They aren’t much. Only take about 15 minutes to complete the loop at a walk. However, they have good footing, hills, shade, and peace and quiet. There is a good stretch where I can do a good gallop on some days and a huge hill I like to make Rudy walk or trot up to build muscle. There are various grass areas surrounding the rings and house that I will incorporate as well during our rides. OK, enough of that. I promised a recap of the horse show this past weekend and I intend to provide just that.
A barnmate’s dad got a new camera and was ale to snap a few impressive shots! I will critique each of those individually. My other barnmate took video footage of me off of my trainer’s iPad. I won’t provide a full critique of those as it would probably be a few paragraphs long! After all, I am my worst critique.
As a side note, it is so helpful to have all of this technology available to help learn! Critiquing footage and photos I have of myself helps me to come up with a new plan for future rides and learn what I need to work on. I take lessons regularly, but not nearly enough. My trainer recently got an iPad as a birthday present. She has been using it to video lessons and rounds at horse shows. She will then sit down and watch it with you later or email it to you and write a few words along with it. It is super helpful! And being able to blend both video footage and still photos from this past weekend has been even more helpful.
This first picture was taken at the third jump. The previous jump was a wide oxer off of a roll back turn followed by eight easy strides bending to this vertical. Judging by Rudy’s overly tidy front end (isn’t he fabulous), I must have gotten in at a slightly deeper spot. However, because I had leg on at the base of the fence Rudy produced a very clean effort. As for my position, I am probably my worst critique. I think my release is good, back is flat, and head is up. However, my seat is too far out of the saddle and my body is too far forward. Because I chose to set my horse up for the deep spot, I need to remember to stay strong in my core and tall with my upper body. If I were jumping a not so careful horse, my upper body position would have caused rail with the front end. My leg is too far back. I believe this is due more to me gripping with the back of my calf rather than the inside. I may be gripping slightly too much with the knee, but I believe thinking about keeping my toe forward and contact with the inside calf will naturally alleviate that grip.
The next picture was taken at the first vertical of a very quiet four stride line. The line was preceded by an oxer off a short turn out of the corner followed by a normal bending six stride line. Although the picture is a touch late, my overall impression of it is soft. That tells me I did a good job truly bending the six strides while maintaining my leg and Rudy’s impulsion as opposed to aiming direct and having to pull to fit the six stride in. My release is a bit high and is not truly pressing into his crest. This is something I have been trying to work on recently. But I am still giving Rudy an adequate release and soft rein. My upper body appears to be better here. I believe that is due to the upcoming balance for the short line. It is hard to tell, but it seems there is a better amount of space between my bum and the saddle, but I still appear to be slightly far ahead. This is a good angle to confirm that my leg grip is not the best. You can see my stirrup leather and see that I am gripping with the back of my calf. You can also see that my knee is not necessarily pinching, it simply has contact with the saddle. Contact with the knee on the saddle is necessary, but I think I am overcompensating for a previous habit of pinching with my knee by rotating onto the back of my calf. This is not a problem on the flat, so I will have to do a lot of gymnastic work and retrain that jumping position memory.
In this picture I think my base of support is the best, but my upper body could still be taller. My release is again too high and perhaps with it 2-3 inches lower, pressing into the crest, and my leg about 2 inches my forward I would be able to keep my upper body taller. Although my release is an adequate length for a short release, the amount of effort Rudy is giving her warranted a longer release. This may not be the case, but it seems I have restricted him a bit as he is stretching his neck down and his head is perpendicular to the ground as opposed to stretching his head and neck down and forward. Perhaps simply lowering my hand will lengthen the release enough to give him more freedom in his head and neck.