|Renovatio Farm is nothing if not incredibly picturesque, and that's just the house!|
We started out by discussing stirrup length. Boyd said there should be three distinct lengths; one for dressage, one for jumping, and one for riding (flatwork in a jump saddle). The flatwork length is going to be somewhere in between your dressage length and jump length, and should fall just above your ankle bone. After our stirrups were up to snuff, we did a light walk/trot/canter to warm up, with the focus being on the horse responding to the leg. While working at the trot, we sectioned the arena into three areas with square turns in each corner, allowing the horse to focus on straightness and impulsion instead of putting a huge effort into creating a bend. At the canter, we put all the horses into a light hand gallop before attempting to try any collection, thus allowing them to stretch out their backs before compression. This started all our mounts out with a great, forward thinking mindsets before we started jumping.
Then back to the stirrups. We took a moment to adjust to our jumping lengths, and Boyd introduced a new concept regarding stirrup position. While the traditional position of the stirrup bar is across the ball of the foot, Boyd had us scoot our feet out a bit further so just our tip-toes were on the pads. He said this was easiest to do with wide-tread, plastic stirrups that have cheese grater pads. The goal of this positioning was to create a deeper heel angle and fuller contact between the rider's lower leg and the horse. This tactic was especially useful on jumps requiring extra support to the base of the fence, like banks on cross country, or spooky stadium jumps.
Then to warm up for jumping, we set up two raised cavaletti in a figure-8 pattern. We started with a large, looping figure 8 for the first 4-5 jumps, then cut the turns in half to a tight, turning figure. This got the horses to start thinking on their feet before we started over larger jumps. From the figure 8 cavaletti, we turned down a long gymnastic line of a bounce-two stride-bounce-two stride-bounce, which was progressively raised from small cross rails to larger Xs.
Now on to the bigger stuff. To go back to practicing the deep heel and secure lower leg, we worked over a vertical fence with a turn back to an oxer with a v chute.
|Tristan and I over the V|
|Eric Dierks and Puff|
I liked the feeling of the deep heel coming into the base of the fence. I have a tendency to take my leg off entirely a couple strides before the jump, but having my heels pushed down helped make me more conscious of my leg contact into the base.
We then put some small courses together, and Boyd focused on everyone's individual issues. My biggest problem is something I've been working on for almost a year. Sometimes, when I start encountering problems on a course, (missing distances, lacking power, too much power, etc.) instead of reacting and adapting to the situation, I will instead sit there and go "Oh dear God, I hope this works out! Tristan take the wheel!" Well... not quite that bad, but my body goes into a neutral state instead of fixing the situation.
We were working on a one-stride to a 5 stride bending line to a Swedish oxer. I came through the line 3 times and each time, ended up with 6 strides. Boyd stopped me and said simply, "You're doing it wrong. You need to take the inside turn and make it 5 strides." So we came around again, I gritted my teeth and put my strong lower leg in effect. Tristan powered through the one-stride, we landed, I set the inside turn, and we made the distance in not 5, but 4 strides! The "Little Horse" stepped up his game! This was, of course, not the ideal reaction, but Boyd was happy that we had made the change to a more powerful, direct route, rather than losing energy while adding strides.
|Making that inside turn happen!|
When you ride with different trainers, you always gain a little more perspective. Sometimes you find out that they have very similar ideas to what you've already
***Thanks to Erik Olsen for taking video of the lessons!***
***Thanks also to Linda Valerio Stenzel for taking photos of the entire clinic! Her album is available here***