Last night's rough plan was to do a couple of the early exercises from the 101 Jumping book after lunging and groundwork. J and Nutmeg were already in the arena so being limited on space, we did the best we could. The early patterns in the book have a heavy focus on flat work with a ground pole or two thrown in. I appreciate the focus on good flat work, and while the patterns are incredibly simple they demand that a lot of the foundations be in place. While we nailed going over the pole at a steady pace at walk and trot, we need to work on getting our circles even more round. To help with that, I'm going to place a cone in the center so I have something to visually orient ourselves at first while we practice.
After patterns, I did a couple laps of cantering with Quest. J had been watching us for awhile and gushed over how comfortable she looked. I grinned and said, "You can hop on her if you'd like." "CAN I REALLY?" I got off and handed the reins over. I stood in the center with Nutmeg while I watched J work with my horse. J has taught lessons for years and she helped owned a horse ranch trail ride business at one point in her life. I knew Quest would be in good hands. I watched J put Quest through her paces- transitions, walk, trot, canter, circles, etc. It was interesting to see how my mare responded with someone different on board.
J noted that Quest was very smooth though she seemed to have a ton of unhappy ears. She suggested I talk to her more and give lots of praise (which I do, but I guess I'm not as talkative with her in front of others haha maybe subconsciously trying to slow the decent into horse-crazy girl insanity). She also gave me a couple pointers to think about:
- Setting Quest up better for canter departures- This is something I really need to get more consistent about. When I set Quest up correctly, she feels great, balanced, and forward with that slight bend to the inside. When I don't, Quest shows her displeasure quite visibly with resistance though being the awesome mare that she is, she complies but everything feels all over the place. A big part of this is my new-ness to riding but I shouldn't forget that I am a RIDER and NOT a passenger.
- More rein contact- I prefer to ride with loose reins and light hands and while there is nothing entirely wrong with that, I understand the need to fine-tune that balance where there is some contact to support and communicate. Like canter departures, I've had my good and bad moments. If I do it right, it's most telling at the canter and I feel her balance nicely in my hands. The best visual analogy I've been able to find (I'm a very visual person when it comes to learning) was a shopping cart rolling on a slight downhill. The amount of weight should feel similar to that.
On a different note: Just a couple hours left before entries for my free art raffle close! Right now you have a 25% chance of winning haha