More Course Work, with a Grid-Oxer!

jumping course grid

I had an amazing ride on Saturday. Berry was so perfect, she was like an old school horse. She is clearly better at this course/jumping business than I am, and I am so thankful she doesn’t take advantage of my floppy self. (although I’ve been promised lots of no stirrup work, so floppy will soon be a thing of the past!)

thoroughbred oxer
“…Should I follow you…? Why are you walking away?”

My trainers were setting up the course for the weekend, and being the only mounted person present, I got to be the lucky one to test out the striding.

It started with a easy grid. Crossrail, added a single, added another single. But then the single kept going up. And then the second single became an oxer. Berry was quietly going into it, but as the jumps went up, she was seriously underpowered. She trotted through the first one, wanted to trot the second, and I had to push her really hard to get her moving enough to get over it. I failed though, she put in so little effort, she knocked down the single, and being the spaz I am, I pulled her off the grid.

I got a lecture that amounted to “Stop stopping when something goes wrong!” I have to learn how to not bail when something goes wrong. It is definitely my go-to reaction when something isn’t perfect. Didn’t change leads? Pull up and try again from a walk. Pulled a rail? Drift to a stop to evaluate life choices.

I need to cut it out, right this second. No more bailing!

I did make the unfortunate mistake of strolling past the oxer before I went back to the grid exercise. It looked huge – Waaaay too big for me and Berry. We have never ever jumped something that size. I got a bit frightened, and my only solution was to just ignore it, not look at it, focus on something else, for the love of god, don’t think about it. This seemed like a good strategy, as the next time I went through the grid, I revved her up beforehand, and we had enough power to go all the way through it.

thoroughbred hunter oxer
“Chest height jump? No big deal.”

She went over that jump like it was nothing. I managed to stay with her, even if I was clinging to her mane for dear life. But still, it was pretty thrilling! We did it! Hurrah!

Quickly on that the end of that, it was time for the whole course.

horse jumping course
This arena is too big to fit well in a picture. I’m going to suggest they get a watch tower so I can get better course photos!

Line 1:

horse jumping grid single oxer

We started out with the grid. It was basically exactly the same as described above, except thinking about it took a backseat to the fact I’d have to do a lead change afterward. Thinking about all these leads changes is hard! Luckily, Berry seems to know what lead to be on most of the time, probably because someone injected her brain with all the knowledge of a school horse, which would explain her awesomeness.

Line 2 & 3:

horse jumping course single diagonal

After the grid, we came swung ’round to port, and did a single gate across the diagonal. Because I was a mess, I lost my stirrup, and fluttered around, but due to our talk about bailing early, I decided I was going to do the jump anyway! That’ll show everyone my determination! I actually lost my stirrup at least 6 strides before the jump and could have made an effort to retrieve it, but I was feeling a bit daring, and wanted to see what would happen to my balance over the jump. I could figure out the stirrup situation afterward.

I don’t know what I expected, but the jump was shockingly easy with only one stirrup. It was exactly the same as if I had a stirrup. I think that’s a good sign, so that was pleasing. I landed on the wrong lead, but instead of working on the change, spent like 4 strides recovering my stirrup, and then finally changed when I was nearly at the fence. Not too slick, but at least I kept cantering and didn’t bail!

Then we came around to the do green line. I barely remember doing it, so either it was so terrible I blacked it out, or it was completely unnoteworthy in any way.

The orange line indicates I kept going forward, but it is a liar, because I did slow down then, as somehow I forgot my course. Possibly because of the black out during the green line and I was just returning to consciousness. Although truly, I don’t know how I could forget, because the course is basically set up for me to remember, there’s no tricky turns, each jump leads to the next one…ugh! But at least I wasn’t yelled at, probably because the sight of a grown woman crying about forgetting her course is just too pathetic for words.

Line 3&4:

horse jumping course diagonal line

After our brief intermission, I remembered my course, and we headed around for the diagonal line. I completely cut out the approach to this jump. I turned super early, despite my trainer’s calls to wait until I see both jumps in the line. From the angle I came to it, it looked like a single. Whoops! I did a bit of a swerve a stride out, and managed to get both jumps in my sights. Once again, thank you Berry for just going with it. The line was fine, and I had to loop back around for the next jump. It’s hard to see in the picture, but there’s a purple and white single across the diagonal, next to the other one that is also on a diagonal (multiple diagonals I suppose?).

I tried to do a flying change after the line, but I think I just confused Berry. She just plugged along at a trot most of the way to the next jump. Then I heard my trainer’s yell, and then I was like, “oh right, canter.” Luckily she’s really good about her canter departs, so as soon as I stopped trying to be all fancy, she was like “Oh canter? Okay,” and then we cantered smoothly to the jump, and right on over it. She landed right, we did our ending circle, and all was well. It was good enough to end on.

When I got off, I almost fell over because my spaghetti legs didn’t feel like carrying me. It had been one of those kinds of rides.

I really, really, really, need to work on my legs. I felt like they were kind of strong before, but now they feel weak, and I could feel them sliding all over the place. Granted, my ride had been too early for pants so I was just wearing some slippery workout leggings. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like putting on pants, and the real solution here is strengthen my leg, not give up my super comfy, innocent leggings.

There’s just some things I stand strong for, and being able to wear slippery leggings while riding is one of them.

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  1. woooo go you and go Berry!! that oxer is no joke! also i love your little ‘hops’ over the fences in your course design pics lol

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