Day One -
|Sometimes Eric gets very animated while explaining and it leads to awesome hand gestures/facial expressions!|
We started the Prelim/Training group with a solid focus on galloping position. Eric said many of the problems that occur out on course stem from a lack of stability in the gallop. The rider should be up over the hands, almost balanced on the balls of the feet, and ready for action. Then, when you go into the preparation phase before the jump, all you need to do is lift up through your collar bone, draw your elbows to your sides, and support with your legs to the fence. When our group all started out, we all had gallop positions too behind the motion, trying to dictate our horse's balance, instead of letting them find their own. Once we adjusted our positions over our hands and with the motion of the gallop, all of our horses started to find their own rhythms and become accountable for their own balance, allowing the riders to focus on more important things like track and engine.
We started off schooling a small oxer, working to establish our "stamp" over fences. Eric's goal at the beginning of a clinic is to examine the individual rider's perfect jump, and have them strive to repeat it over every fence. That "stamp" is different with each horse and rider combination, but it's great to start out with a base level of excellence to strive for.
|Chelsea over a nice wide oxer establishing her "stamp."|
|Katellyn and Manderlay over a steeplechase fence|
|Katellyn and Manderlay|
|Eric on Manderlay|
Oh yeah, and I jumped a duck. No big deal.
Day Two -
Since we had established the gallop the day before, Eric had us focus on letting our horses "play" over some smaller courses. We started out in a more forested area of the farm, playing pole bending with the trees and getting the horses to think on their feet, or as Eric put it, "cat-like." From there, we started a really fun exercise: using the smaller beginner novice/novice jumps, we created our own courses at the trot while jumping a fence at least every 15 seconds. This made all of us think on our feet about where our tracks went between the trees and which fences would be next, all while maintaining a comfortable pace at the trot. I, for one, loathe trotting jumps, but it is a vital skill to have when you find yourself in a sticky situation, like jumping up a bank to a skinny.
After we played over the jumps for a bit, Eric had us each create a 6 fence course, with only about 10 seconds between each fence. We could use any of the jumps we wanted, and were to make the course as winding as possible. I chose to create a course with lots of tight turns, highlighting Tristan's short-coupling allowing him to spin on dimes, including a rollback turn to the same fence within three strides, and finished with a sharp angle over a pipe. Tristan likes to put on a show, but was rather unimpressed by the baby jumps.
After playing with some more courses over larger fences, we moved back to the main infield to work on the coffin. Tristan is generally good over ditches, but due to the deep nature of this question, he took a hard look during the first attempt. We then circled to do a half coffin, ditch to roll-top, and circled again to do a full coffin. Whether it was the wind in my ears or I just felt extra gung-ho from all the great jumps before, I decided to interpret the "bending line" to the coffin as a straight line, angling the ditch to a much taller skinny. We jumped through it well, but it just wasn't what Eric had asked for. Oops.
During our first tour of the property, I had noticed a great big mound question with a log on top. I've jumped questions like that before and know they slightly terrify me. Unfortunately for me, I made the mistake to mention this fact to my boyfriend, who mentioned it to Eric, who then sent me over the jump. Oh, dear. First attempt resulted in a stop, not because Tristan didn't want to jump it, but he could feel that I really didn't want to jump it. Second attempt also had a stop. I still didn't want to jump it and my body language had convinced Tristan that there were indeed monsters hiding in the tiny log. Third try, Eric gave me a blow by blow approach. We started with a more collected gallop, and once we were about two strides away from the base of the mound, he had me wrap my legs around Tristan and kick it into full throttle. Since the hill was so steep, we needed the extra impulsion on the incline to allow enough power to actually jump the jump once we got there! This time we had success, and I really got to feel my position shift from a jumping 2-point, to a backseat drop. Not so scary after all!
|It would probably help if I could keep my eyes up.|