Last lesson was after the March show which was outdoors and sunny but when we showed up on Sunday there were three inches of snow on the ground so we were stuck indoors. The gymnastic set up was a bounce over a placing pole to a one stride. The emphasis was on forward and straightness, both of which I was lacking so the fences stayed small. We also worked an exercise where I had to weave over and between all the poles at a trot concentrating on looking where I was going before I was going, which is much harder then it sounds!
Annie is extra bendy to the left so coming off the left rein I had a tendency to pull her too much to the left and get in crooked which made the gymnastic more difficult. LAZ put up guide poles that I had to get in between then I could stop steering with my hands and steer with my legs. I actually found myself grabbing mane and trying to flatten my back voluntarily which is a first for me!
Last Saturday the weather was beautiful when we hauled out for another lesson so I knew I would be outside, I was happy to be outside and a bit nervous. Annie hadn't been outside all winter, would she be fresh? Would she run away over fences or on the flat? Turns out she was just fine. I also had a group lesson so I had to mind where other people were going, wait patiently while they were jumping, and then get going again once they stopped.
We ended up doing courses in pieces, putting together a whole course by the end. Apparently I'm done warming up over crossrails as there wasn't one in sight! LAZ worked hard at getting me to press my hands into the neck with my wrists straight at least a stride before the fence, a concept that was very difficult for me to grasp and even harder to actually do. The idea of giving up control of my reins a stride away from the fence was something my brain screamed NO NO NO NO! over. LAZ said that Annie is honest, knows where she is going, and I can steer with my legs. Imagine that.
We did have a few stops at the plank fence when it was raised and the first panel. These were unfamiliar fences to Annie and I must confess that I sat like a lump to them. I want to sit like a lump and let her slow down and stop if she wants because if I made her go forward then she'd stop faster and I'd fall off. Why yes, that makes little to no logical sense. When I actually supported Annie by putting my leg on and riding forward she jumped them just fine, without even overjumping.
Now LAZ swears that the panels are only 2 feet high, which is totally not true, but Annie felt good over them. Not overjumping, not leaving long, not panicking. A big part of what gives me confidence is that Annie doesn't act stupid over new and scary things, and even if she gives it some room she's a flat jumper by nature so she doesn't jump me loose like Nikki used to do all the time.
We ended up cantering our entire course, including the scary panels which were actually quite boring panels in the end. It was a fantastic lesson and everyone around kept saying how much I improved in the lesson and how much I've improved since I've started riding with LAZ.
Which is all true, although LAZ still terrifies me. Which she seems to be aware of. The thought of being pushed beyond what I'm capable of and giving me a complex well, it gives me a complex! However, I WANT to get better and I get better at the end of every lesson with LAZ so there you go. I arrive terrified and leave confident which is as it should be.
I can feel a difference in my leg, it feels like it stays by the girth more consistently and doesn't swing as much, and concentrating on pressing my hands into her neck and not just flinging at her mane seems to help. I'd still like to fold a bit more over her as I think it will kill the rest of the leg swinging, but much better besides that.
Here's an awesome video of us jumping the course.