Cloud's Honor Racing

Cloud's Honor Racing

Cloud's Honor Riding

Cloud's Honor Riding

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Other Half of the Equation

It occurs to me that I've not been including the other major factor in my progress. I think it is because this was already a regular part of my development. If you are going to get a true picture of what is happening, I need to start talking about Elizabeth.

I am in awe of the insight she has into my riding and my horses. She is keen on what Birdie needs and he is always happy and content after our work with Elizabeth, no matter the mood he arrived with.

I am lucky that all of my teachers are in sync. When I work with Elizabeth after a lesson with Jimmy, she sees progress, not regression in either myself and my horse. The same is true when my Jimmy lesson follows Elizabeth and now I've added Samantha Allan to the mix. I've asked Samanth just who she is on several occasions. Sometimes Jimmy's words come out of her and other times it's Elizabeth. I believe I am lucky to have such wonderful talents molding both me and my horses.

There is something about Elizabeth that I appreciate very much. She forms a relationship with my horses and their well being is her priority. She gives them a rider who hears them through feeling and has shown me that everything I do effects my horse, absolutely everything.
I've never had a lesson with Elizabeth that my riding and my horse's training didn't improve. It doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A True Gift

This is a small part of what I learned yesterday at my lesson with Jim Wofford. It was one of those days that you know will change your riding and your relationship with your horse forever.

Part of receiving and appreciating a gift is actually recognizing that is has been given to you. Sure, on holidays it’s easy to know you’re being handed a gift, but what about the intangible, unexpected gift? Many times these are the overlooked blessings.
Today I got such a gift. Birdie was transformed right under me into a horse that was patiently waiting for my cues. I took the hour to realize what I was on, but now I have a completely new direction in which to go.

Birdie received the gift of comfort and confidence today and he realized it immediately and responded in kind. I, being a human took longer to understand and as always my Bird was patiently waiting for me to arrive.

I learned today that I must use my head to ride every stride, not in a labored heavy way, but in a light, intuitive way. I can’t check out, because he is waiting for me now. The horse that I could not even think of touching with my leg, now requires that leg. No more hanging on to him to get to the jump. Now I must soften and wait out the ascent. I did not know what to do on the approach. I found myself out of kilter without a horse to hold to the jump . Even though it was wrong, it was the only way to get there. I’ve rarely experienced this before today.
I have my work cut out for me, but I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Jimmy Lesson!!

I had another lesson with Jimmy yesterday and as an extra added bonus, Samantha Allan took a horse too. I just started taking lessons with Samantha and it's amazing the progress I'm making. She is a longtime student of both Jimmy and Sharon White. Most recently she has schooled with Sharon, but wanted Jimmy to see her horse Everest - aptly named I might add. Samantha's farm is only five minutes from mine, making it possible for me to have a weekly lesson with her. The fact that she was there yesterday was great for me because she now has the input from Jimmy to apply to my lessons.

As always, this lesson was very productive. I'm starting to analyze the feelings I'm getting from my Bird. I feel a lot from my horses, but when jumping I've not been able to take advantage of it, partly because I've been concentrating on trying to be in the right place. I still need work, but I'm getting it. Jimmy answered a question that was on my mind about leg position without even being asked.

The lesson centered around the horse waiting to go where the rider signals rather than anticipating the next jump. The jumps were set up so the horse and rider had several choices, making it impossible for the horse to know which one until the rider signaled, usually by turning his head over the preceding jump. That's all my Bird needs. A one stride to a two stride oxer or angle left to a jump or right to another jump. Consequently, once the horse is going through the one stride he must wait for the rider to direct him to his next jump.
What happens in Birdies mind is a fantastic jumping festival. Did you ever see the Beggin' Strips commercial where the dog is saying "BACON!!!". That's Birdie, only he's exclaiming "JUMPING!!! WHICH ONE??? WHICH ONE???" I feel this and I get excited and now we're both screaming "JUMPING!!!", when I need to stay the same and say "Yes, Birdie we're going left this time." The long and short of it is (a) I felt this. (b) I realized what I was doing. and (c) I stopped reacting to Birdie's excitement. Everything about our performance improved. Pretty neat.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cross Country Schooling at Leighton Farm!!

Samantha Allan came over to my farm and schooled me over every cross country fence I have here. I've been dying to jump the chevron and the Bird cruised over it like it was built for him. We did the roll top my husband made and that is certain motivation for him to build the corners I want for Christmas. I am so lucky to have Samantha just around the corner. A weekly lesson in jumping again is moving my progress along. She is a student of Jimmy and works with Sharon White, so that makes things perfect for me. I am so lucky.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Lesson That Keeps On Giving

Yesterday was the best day Birdie and I have had - ever. When discussing leg position, Jimmy had also told me to lift my little toes. Sounds weird, but it puts my lower leg on the horse. I have to add that five minutes earlier Samantha Allan has suggested the same thing. This helps my stubborn left leg. The problem may be in my ankle. Kind of makes sense since I damaged the Achilles tendon and have stiffness there. Elizabeth is going to be so happy with my leg position improvement - I hope. Jimmy also talked a lot about changing direction often to slow Birdie down, rather than actively trying to slow him down. Lots of shoulder in and leg yield and reversing direction to keep his mind settled. He also finally addressed the rooting. He told me he's not liking that very much and suggested I fix one hand when Birdie does it. In this way he punishes himself, but has a way down to the ground. If you jerk Birdie, of course his head goes up. If you fix both hands he reaches the end of the reins and up his head goes. If you fix one rein, he reaches the end of the reins and bends downward. That Jimmy, what a fox - that's why his farm is named Fox Covert.So yesterday, Birdie and I did flat work - not in the ring. Jimmy had mentioned the Bird is very dependent on the walls/sides of the arena. They seem to give him security. At 45 minutes his back was so relaxed he was gently flipping his crest as I was riding him. My hands were quiet and soft. That is the moment I had finally shown my Bird to the ground. He followed the bit as long and low as I wanted to make it. I almost cried tears of joy.