Friday, December 17, 2010

McKinna = Rock Star

Last night I had a jumping lesson with Devin. Remember how I said in my last post that McKinna is jumping really well, and is ready to bump up the height?

Oh yes. I was right. So, so right.

We began with a canter pole exercise. This is literally the ONLY canter pole exercise that has ever been a positive experience for me and my horse. (Again: this is why Devin rocks and she is my trainer.) She started with four canter poles set at 9' distances, then 9' to a cross rail. Canter through on a 9' stride, a nice easy indoor canter for us.

Here's the beauty: even though we biffed the first distance a few times (because really, you have to be pretty accurate to a canter pole), there are enough poles that the horse can fix things before they exit the exercise. Without fail, McKinna was in perfect rhythm and distance by the 2nd or 3rd pole.

Huh. Imagine that. Canter poles that we can ride quietly, rhythmically, and successfully through.

She then rolled them out to 10' distances, which we did a couple times, and then 11'. And it was great! I definitely had to add leg for the 11' poles, but it was absolutely doable, McKinna was confident about the exercise and understood exactly what to do, and she was able to lengthen her stride without rushing or falling on the forehand or getting anxious. It was wonderful.

I am definitely going to keep practicing that exercise. What a simple, positive, effective way to work on developing McKinna's bigger stride.

Then we moved onto the course work. The first round was 2'6ish, easy stuff, McKinna was perfect. So then I told Devin I wanted to play with the big heights, mostly as a progress check for my C3. If I point her at a 3'3 course, what goes wrong and what goes right?

So Devin set up a 3' - 3'3 course for me, including one oxer that was DEFINITELY a solid 3'3 and maybe even a little bigger. True to Devin form, it was a pretty technical one - the first course had a rollback to the monster oxer and one fence on an angle, and the second course had a direct full two strides from an angled vertical to the monster oxer. There was also a triple on the outside that was either a forward two to a waiting three, or a REALLY FORWARD three (because it was off a short turn, vertical to oxer) and then a regular two.

McKinna. was. amazing.

She jumped her heart out for me. Need to leave a little long? Fine. She launches off the ground, pretty much never any hesitation (remember a few months ago we were dealing with her hesitating on takeoff almost every time). Need to add up? Fine. I add leg, sit tall with my upper body, and she turns into a little bouncy ball that pats the ground and arcs over the fence with no problem. The only mistakes were pilot error, and they were pretty minor ones.

We got some serious air time over those bigger fences too, especially the oxer. She was so tidy and good with her knees. The whole course just felt so together - everything I asked for, she gave me 110% without the slightest resistance. Whether we jumped long or short or perfect, from a galloping stride or a collected one, she landed and cantered off like clockwork. If I had to really set her up for a rollback, she sat back and did it. If I had to do ask for some really galloping, long strides to make the horse striding, she did it.

Excuse me for a moment while I squeal in happiness. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

The downside, of course, is that I was at the lesson solo and there is no video. It is heartbreaking, but I guess it just means I need to do it again soon! I'm riding in a Pony Club lesson with Devin on January 15, so maybe then, or maybe I'll get a chance to ride with her again before that.

I am still walking on clouds. That was some of the coolest riding ever. The best part is that even the 3'3 fences don't look intimidating - they look big, and real, but not scary and totally within our abilities. McKinna obviously thinks so too. I could not ask for a better performance from her, mentally or physically. She was amazing.

We've come a long way from the little auction pony learning how to jump cross rails!



Leah Fry said...

I don't always know exactly what you're talking about, but your excitement and passion are clear to anyone.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Val said...

That sounds awesome!
$250 well spent.
I love how horses can surprise and delight us.

SprinklerBandit said...

Sounds like a -great- lesson! I'm so happy for you guys.

Alanna said...

McKinna sounds like so much fun! Congrats on all of your progress so far.

tangerine said...

It's so good to hear about your awesome progress. I love when all the prep work finally pays off just like you expected. It makes it so much easier to prep for the next phase knowing that it paid off last time. I think I'm getting ready to bump up a height class, but not so exciting, just from x-rails to verticals lol.

manymisadventures said...

Thanks everyone! We are having a blast.

Tangerine- don't knock it! Crossrails to verticals is a big step ;) Not so long ago, McKinna getting over a panel fence without serious spooking was cause for celebration.

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