Connecting You Head To Your Body

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I took a big step this past weekend and decided to take Bear and Oh So for their lessons together since I’ll be traveling this coming weekend. Bear has been in the trailer with my mom’s horse a couple of times, but he was quite “friend sour” when I tried to take him away from his buddy once we got where we were going.

Baby stuff I know, but it’s hard since we have such a small group of horses at home–they’re all sort of attached.

They both traveled well and Oh So probably thought I was crazy to put him on the other side of the trailer, but I wanted to make sure Bear was in his usual place since he’s less experienced with trailering (by about 10 years!).

I convinced my dad to come up and help babysit/video, so off we went to an indoor in Middleburg on a frigid, sleeting afternoon.

I decided to do Bear first since Oh So stands on the trailer well. And…that idea went out the window when Oh So neighed once and Bear got uptight about it. Since the trailer was right next to the entrance of the indoor, my dad tied Oh So up with a haynet and he was perfectly content.

Bear settled down once he could see his buddy, but subconsciously, I was already undone a bit. Mostly it was because they both had to have two days off while I was away and I usually like to have a flat day before jumping, for me and for them to get back in the swing of things.

We started off OK by cantering over two verticals on a half circle. At that point, he was settled into his job and not worrying about Oh So, but I was worried about having “lost my feel” for a distance a bit.

I just got wrapped up in my own head a little. I wasn’t picking to a spot, which I can do with Oh So when I get nervous, but I was more taking long spots or just not seeing anything at all and doing nothing. Thankfully, Bear is such a good baby that he kept jumping from any spot, whether I took my leg off (which I also do when I feel like I’m going to get it wrong) or not.

As a result, he was jumping a little low in front and landing in a heap over a few fences, so I had to make sure I sat up even more on landing.

It’s frustrating when you can’t connect what’s going on in your head with your limbs! I know how to jump Bear over beginner novice jumps in an indoor ring, but for some reason, my subconscious worry about not having ridden for two days, added to the fact that we only had two hours to use the ring and that I was nervous about bringing two horses and how they would react, made me lose that connection and ride badly.

After watching my video, it actually didn’t look as bad as it felt, and we ended on a good note. As my trainer Lisa said, I should be happy we were out, not stuck at home because of a snowstorm, and he was going great considering the new stress we put on him by adding a travel companion.

I knew I didn’t want to carry that bad energy over to Oh So, and once I got on, I felt immediately at home since I know him so well.

My dad and Lisa took turns holding Bear in the ring because it had started sleeting outside and I knew he wouldn’t stand tied to the trailer with his buddy out of sight. He seemed perfectly happy to watch and learn though!

I started off on a good forward note with Oh So over a similar exercise on a bending line and he was actually relatively compliant for him. There’s a short clip of him at the end since we didn’t do too much. He does fuss a bit in between the jumps, but he wasn’t actually running off with me like he can when he gets really into it.

He felt really good over the jumps and was jumping in a nice shape. Once we can get out in a bigger ring, we’ll start bumping the fences up again, but right now, it’s more important that we work on strengthening his hind end, which is proving hard with the crappy weather and footing. So lots and lots of gymnastics!

I ended the lesson by walking him up and down the cross-country hill for about 15 minutes while Lisa led Bear by hand and let him handgraze.

I’m hoping to get in a couple more rides before I leave on Wednesday for Florida. I’ll be covering the CDI***** for COTH until Saturday. I’m excited to get a break from this cold weather. I was gritting my teeth last night as I rode Oh So for about 20 minutes in the dark with the wind howling and the ring freezing beneath our feet. I’m ready for spring!

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