Monday, July 11, 2016

Low Jumps, High Standards

Some barn drama and my lesson on Lexie this last weekend got me really thinking about my personal philosophy when it comes to riding. I putter around 2'6-2'9. I lease an older, but athletic horse, who, at her peak was going 1.10 m. I've been leasing her a year, but have been puttering around 2'9 at the most for about the last 7-8 months. Why? A myriad of reasons. Confidence issues for one- a freak face plant over a 3'3-3'6 vertical several years ago, fitness issues from the horse and rider, soundness issues for the horse, and a desire to move up in a manner I agree with.

My personal philosophy is that jumping is flatwork with speed bumps. I want to be fit. I want my horse to be fit, and our flatwork impeccable. Because Lexie is an older horse with past soundness issues, I'm careful about bringing her along, and limited to riding 4-5 days a week with school, work, and being on call. Would we be jumping higher if I rode 6 days a week every week? Without a doubt- she would be fit, and I would be ready to handle her fitness.

H and I had an epiphany during my lesson yesterday- Lexie doesn't run to be a brat. Sometimes, she really feels herself and wants to be strong and fast, but her flat, strung out canter? It's fitness. She isn't strong enough to hold herself, and I'm not strong enough to help her. Does a strung out canter matter over a cross-rail, 2'6, even 2'9? No- it really doesn't. Even most horses can get away with 3' flat and strung out. But to me, I can't ride a horse who feels like that.

I want a powerful hind end rocking back. I want a supple, rhythmic canter. I want to have a partnership with my horse where I am strong enough to support her when she needs it and she is strong enough to hold herself without me.

We're getting there- this last month hasn't been easy between abscesses, weather, and schedules, and Lexie has lost fitness. So H lowers the jumps in the lessons, and I up the frequency of trot sets and trot work and increase the time of our flat sessions (although, being on call the next 14 out of 21 days will make it interesting). 

I would rather jump small and tight than big and sloppy. I want the flatwork to be there before anything else. Once the flatwork is there, the jumps and the distances fall into place.

- K & C & L


  1. My philosophy on jumping is the same -- the problems aren't the fences, it's the flatwork in between.

  2. Totally agree. A good course is like a dressage test with 'speedbumps'