Friday, March 1, 2013


I set up the gymnastics today!  It was again COLD.  Snow is definitely in the air ... whether it will actually do anything I don't know, but I'm sure glad Muffin has a nice heavy blanket and a snuggly neck cover:)  I worked myself into a good sweat cleaning stalls, and moving jumps, so I actually was a little less bundled up than yesterday!  I opted to tie my stirrups to the girth today since I haven't jumped in 2 weeks, and when I did I could feel the leg slippage a little bit.

I swiped borrowed an exercise from Kate over at Greybrook Eventing which SHE swiped borrowed from Jim Wofford's book of gymnastics.  A trot in one stride crossrail to vertical with 2 different options; a 2 stride bending line to the left to a vertical, or a 3 stride bending line to an oxer to the right.  I used up all the good (and not so good) jump standards, but still had the coop and cavalettis to do something with, so I sandwiched one section of the coop between 2 cavs for a warm up jump.  I had Tiki 'dressed' in his regular cavesson D-ring, and when I went to pick up the trot he actually was nicely forward!  I got him flexed at the poll and kept my leg on, but I didn't have to nag for forward.  Reversed and warmed up the other way at the trot; he swished his tail a few times when the boys in his pasture decided to start running like maniacs.  The pasture doesn't share a common fence with the ring, but there's only about 20 feet between them, so when the pasture horses start running, your horse in the ring has the potential to get a wild hair.

He swapped a few times at the canter, but considering the boys were STILL running around, I honestly didn't care.  Since I'd planned to get up to 3'3 on the jumps, I did just the bare minimum to get him stretched and warm.  I had a crossrail, 18' to a 2'3 vertical.  The left hand vertical was set at 2'9, the right hand oxer was 2' in the front, 2'6 in the back.  I warmed up over the coop oxer and he was just lovely.  Didn't change his rhythm, and I could feel he made a decent effort over it.  Did it off both leads and I couldn't feel any difference going to/away from the barn.  I'm very fortunate in the fact that Tiki seems to be very unaffected by the in gate.  I had to set the gymnastic going towards home, because the footing is a little thin RIGHT where the right hand jump would have to go if I had it set going away.

I went right to the 1 stride, and he jumped it in his usual style; getting a little tangled up in the trot pole coming in, then getting a little long and weak to the out.  I did just that again and he was a little better.  I jumped both side jumps as singles, and he was right there for me EVERY time, so I finally came in as part of the gymnastic.  I think I'm opposite of many people; Tiki can be so inconsistent with the length of his stride that fixed distances send me into a cold sweat on him;)  Just to be safe,  I had both bending lines set 3' short, which theoretically would make the distances easy for him.

I went vertical first, and he did 3.  Of COURSE he did!  Back to trot, then right bend to the oxer, where he did 4.  Lol, such a predictable little Muffin!  I concentrated hard core on ME; auto release, hold the closed hip, eyes up, don't drop him at the base, don't change the rhythm, leg on takeoff, and watch the left bulge.  After successfully negotiating at the starter height, I hopped off and went up 1 hole on the vertical, 2 holes on the oxer.  Again jumped them as singles, he was perfect, then did them as the combo, and I RODE him for the correct striding.  I have GOT to go forward on him without chasing him, that's for sure my achilles heel.  The 2 was riding better than the 3, and I'm sure it was a combo of the gate being to the left, and that subtle left bulge.  When I quit trying to correct the bulge with hand alone and added left leg, the 3 began to improve.  I can finally jump him 3' and not be battling butterflies, he felt GREAT.  Hopped off and reset one more time, so both singles were 3'3.  Tackled the vertical first, concentrating on trying to ride it EXACTLY like I did with my last lesson with Paul Macrea.  Just a nice steady canter, and jump the jump right out of stride.  He jumped out of his skin over it, he felt GREAT!  Came to the oxer and missed.  Like, MISSED.  Got there long and weak, did nothing, he took off and plowed through the back rail.  I slipped the reins to him so I didn't catch him in the mouth, then kept coming straight away back to the vertical.  He jumped that fine, so I decided to do the combo so I couldn't miss so badly again.  Did the 2 to the vertical and perfect.  Came back to do the 3, and even though the distance was RIGHT there, I could feel him hesitate off the ground and I got a little left again.  Decided to go ONE more time to reinforce forward and this time added a little cluck off the ground, and he jumped the SNOT out of it.  Good boy!

I felt great, he felt great, and even though the jumps RODE fairly big, I didn't break out in a cold sweat;)  If I'm going to survive an entire Training level showjumping course, we have to be comfortable at max height, so from now until May I plan to jump him every other week at height.  I see more gymnastics in our future, and some bounces as per Simon Eades, UGH!  I gave him his Adequan shot yesterday, and he for sure felt nice today.  Fresh, but smooth and forward.  Love my boy!  LR will ride on this chilly Sunday, and I will play next week by ear.  I think rain is supposed to be a factor again at some point, yay.

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