Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lesson #149: Remembering to Listen

This lesson shared a bunch of similarities to the last in that the lesson peaked with jumping a mini course. We started with a brief warm up to get everyone limber. Again, I felt like the canter went really well and there was a good level of control on my part. My aim at the canter is to ensure it is relaxed and I don't feel like it's a race around the corners (which Ariel is known to do every now and again). Sheri reminds us that our flat work is imperative for jumping because a jump is merely an obstacle during your flat work (what a brilliant way to look at it!) and unless you have a good grasp of your flat work, your jumping (or anything else) will be an interruption and throw the rest of the session off.

Sometimes I glaze over during flat work. It's a bad habit that I occasionally catch myself doing because my mind's drifted. Have you ever had a conversation with someone only to keep anticipating what they're going to say and prepare yourself to appropriately answer? Well, I've been told time and again that I'm not really listening if I do that. Truly listening means that we need to actually hear what people are saying, then respond appropriately but I get it, who has time to do that these days? But I'm not the first to admit that I do that so often that I don't actually hear what people are telling me and on multiple occasions, it's clear that I totally wasn't listening. In an effort to break the habit of going "auto-pilot", I'll take these warm ups as opportunities to "talk with" Ariel and really listen to what she's telling me, by:
  • Looking the direction I want to go, in advance
  • Keep Ariel in the corners (which means prep as we move towards the corner)
  • Ease off the contact if she's starting to get unbalanced: speeding, raising her head in protest...
  • Not letting my eye drop
  • Half halt sooner
  • Making the effort to change something, if she's protesting
I'd say Deb's progressing just fine. But she could be a wee bit more generous with the treats!

Once we get going, Sheri has us taking single or two jumps at the trot. I do find that going at the posting trot is... distracting? But then I figure that if you can do it at a trot (posting or otherwise) the canter should be easy as pie. After a few goes at that, we are asked to take 3 jumps in a combo of mostly trot, interjected with canter. My efforts aren't too bad and I do remind myself to sit up more and apparently it's coming together just fine so I'm pleased with that! Sheri even mentions that I'm sitting up after jumps more often and that every now and again, things are a little off but overall, I'm moving right along and not falling on Ariel as often. Keep in mind though, that my jump heights have gone right back down to little X's. I don't know when I"ll get back to jumping closer to 2" but I'm perfectly okay with that because a good foundation means steady and sustainable progress!

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