Hello! Im back after blogging blackout! But now that we are post-holidays and well into the month of sticking to our new year resolutions, I’m inspired to hit the keyboard.
And this blog is for good reason. I’m happy to report that I am properly managing my life! In the past, I have not been so successful with my own structured riding with my horses. Don’t misunderstand: I am very structured in the sense that my horses are in hard work, and they each have a personal calendar with their respective workouts and goals written on it. I seem to get enough dressage help from Jen Verharen and Debbie DeWitt throughout the year, but regular jumping help has been as rare as a nun in a bikini. And that isn’t a good thing, is it? After all, my own students seem to get lessons in at intervals relative to the noisiness of their requests. Those that text/email/voicemail several times are on my calendar that week!
So, when Marc Grandia moved into Mapleleaf, I knew that had an opportunity to get regular lessons with him. (Or at least as regular as two horse professionals are able to do.)
Today, I slammed in 4 morning lessons and then herded Lear and Cera into the trailer and booked it to Duvall. I am so glad I did. The one student who I couldn’t fit in this morning for a lesson was glad that I was making appropriate time for my own rides, and I appreciated her support. I knew what I wanted out of the lessons, and I was really happy to talk with Marc about it. His approach was sympathetic, slow and methodical. Not getting results just for the sake of making an example, and short term fixes.
My main goals for Lear are to 1) change the shape of his jump from a rather stiff and square-like bascule to a more rounded and softer shape. Marc completely saw that this is going to take, first and foremost, relaxation. He needs to relax and elongate his topline so that he can arc with a more fluid and uphill jump. Lear will never be blessed with an uphill body, his god-given talents are for breakneck speed at the track over 1 mile. But he will not be able to move up to Intermediate unless he can relax and become more adjustable in his body on approach to a jump. The photo to the right is an extreme version of the square shape that he can take. That photo was taken at novice level, when he was quite green, but you can see that the pattern started early. Things have definitely gotten better, but a square jump shape still haunts me with rails. Here is a video from Rebecca Farm at preliminary level, and he has both rails due to his tense top line.
And here is his cross country where the square shape is slightly less obvious, but you can still see it
2) I need help in being more brave and forward in my approach to riding Lear. He is such a physically uncomfortable horse for me to ride (whether I have broken ribs or not) and it is very easy to ride the stride that is comfortable for my body. I need someone on the ground calling me out on the expectations I have for Lear’s rideability. Marc is young and not shy in the slightest… and I trust that he will tell me what he thinks in a direct way!
Marc knows more about Cera than he does Lear, as he saw her at a clinic with Robyn Fisher in December. And he saw her jump as if she was a freak show artist. She reminds me of a Cirque du Soleil gymnast who does things that you cannot fathom a normal person doing with their body. Cera’s extraordinary jumping ability is partly due to her physical construction, but also due to her emotional approach to the jumps. It’s easy for me to back off on the canter, because putting my leg on means its likely she will jump well over the 6’ standards. When in reality, she needs a forward step and learn, like any normal horse learns, to deal with the jumps forward to the base. I tend to be a rider who likes an accurate ride to the jumps, and I need Marc to yell at me to be less perfect and more correct.
And he did.