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Friday, 4 September 2020

Showjumping Training - 29.08.2020

Team Tunnah Equestrian Showjumping Training 29.08.2020


Let's just say I was very excited to be heading to our first proper showjumping training session since the beginning of March...! Why do I say 'proper'? Well, a week before we'd been training over a short course of poles to help us get back into the swing of things with the correct rhythm, suppleness and feel. But this session was where we would start jumping!


A few weeks ago, just after I had moved yards, I decided to give Louie a small jump around the arena at home, a simple course of small uprights. Well, it didn't exactly go how I'd hoped. Louie felt VERY strong, I felt really disorganised and unbalanced, and I was a little upset that I wasn't able to do what I felt were really basic things such as a circle before we turn to a jump or after when we've gone straight on landing. It was all just a bit of a mess... But, I hadn't jumped since 10th April, and that was just two uprights in a 20x40, so I really shouldn't have expected everything to simply fall back into place.


Here's a quick clip of us jumping at home in April, and then a few weeks ago. There's a big difference when I watch the two. Nothing that some training, homework and practise won't help to sort out and put us back on track.



Back to the training session...

I warmed up, and although Louie felt a little keen, he was obedient and working well in all paces as I did so. 


We started off over the same course as the week before, with poles on the floor, concentrating on the corners & turns, and lines into the fences and I was really made to ride the course to the same track as if I were riding over a course of fences, so no cutting the corners! 


During our polework session previously, and as our homework in between, we'd been working on 18-yard pole distances to put five strides in, instead of four. But this time, once we moved up to canter, we were aiming for a more regular jumping rhythm through the distances. I suspected that we would move straight to being too quickly, long and flat, but we'd progressed calmly and hit the distances each time.


Now it was time to make the second poles as jumps, starting as cross poles. Nothing had changed, and we rode around the course well, keeping a consistent rhythm and even strides throughout. It was actually really enjoyable to be able to work on the foundations long before the fences - balance, riding correct lines after a jump, looking for a change of lead, keeping corners smooth. 


We soon moved them up to upright and jumped around a couple of times. Everything felt easy, although, of course, I was concentrating on all the elements before and after the fence, but going down the lines to the jumps felt really natural and as though everything was flowing. 



You can see in the video that everything is very rhythmical, but in a good pace for showjumping distances. We kept cutting the corner after the purple upright across the diagonal, with Louie tending to push through the inside shoulder when he was landing on the wrong lead and bend to the outside. Riding around the plank on the floor after really helped with that, and also using the circle when correcting the lead to establish the bend and suppleness to the left rein.


Our homework is to set up the two jumping lines - one on a four stride distance and the other on a three - and ride down them rhythmically, straight and concentrating on the corners before the jumps themselves. I've also to change it up (not in the same session), but with just 4-stride distance poles on the floor - sometimes come on five, sometimes come on four.


Last night I set up the exact same exercise at home as we worked on in training, but as is the way, it didn't go to plan. It was very windy, (I should have just gone indoors!) and there was a spooky flapping plastic tarp in the carpark which had Louie quite tense from the start. I found him a bit numb to the aid, and not listening to a steady, bend or a go aid, so I worked for a while just on the flat getting him to listen. We ended up only jumping the course twice - the first time was excellent but the second I got a mis-stride to the fence over the diagonal and down the second line. I came back to repeat them, starting in trot, and he jumped them lovely to finish on.


However, I did go home feeling disheartened and a bit miffed at myself for not a) choosing to go inside, b) giving it up as a jump session and staying on the flat, and c) for trying to jump around the course a second time.


I'd planned to give Louie Friday off, but I might head up to do the exercise on the flat over the poles and distance, to work on our balance and suppleness. Or, I might just put it to bed as one of those sessions, and try again early next week. See how the day goes, but as I'm in limbo about it, I'd lean on the side of next week!

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