Today I mixed things up a bit. I’ve been meaning to ride in my old jump saddle for my own benefit, I need to get comfortable again in a jumping position since I’ve been riding in a dressage saddle so long now. Tonight I had Liam all tacked up as usual and in the arena, then I saw the jumps set up and got thinking maybe tonight would be a good night to try the other saddle. It was nice and cool, and very quiet around the barn. I took him back in and switched my saddle to the jump saddle.
Back in the arena, I struggled to find a balanced position with my stirrups short. My ankles screamed at me as I asked them to flex more and then even a little more. Liam’s ears twitched back and forth as he felt my balance shift. Then after about 10 or 15 minutes it started feeling more natural. He trotted on, then cantered, head down, neck stretched out taking light contact on a long rein. I moved into a two point and floated over his back as he cantered on, then I looked to the line of little jumps. It was a pole, then a stride, then a small cross rail, then another stride, and a bigger cross rail. He felt me look to the line of jumps, and I pulled him back to a trot. His ears twitched again, asking. Then they locked straight ahead on the jumps. He was ready and more than capable of handling the tiny line on his own, it was up to me to do my part and stay out of his way. He trotted on and his stride lengthened in eager anticipation. He floated over the pole, then stepped over the smaller cross rail, then neatly jumped the second one, picking up an easy canter afterwards. No problem.
We went around again, this time jumping the first cross rail, getting a neat canter stride in between the two jumps, smoothly jumping the second and cantering off. But this time he got strong as he cantered off, he wanted to run. I used my new dressage technique to remind him, turning him towards the wall. He immediately backed off and around we went again.
We only did it a few times, but it was clear that he loved it, and I did too. So much for not changing the routine while our trainer is out of town… we want to do it again tomorrow!