Six weeks to the day since my last impromptu meeting with the ground, and it happened again. I was riding Husky in my lesson on Wednesday and we were both very happy to be riding outside and doing some coursework. I think I may have put a little too much good faith in my trusty guy. He was getting a bit fast and “charge-y” especially down the long straightaways. He would kinda come back to me – sometimes. But then he’d be charging off to the races again.
In his defense, I basically just let him do this. I try not to get in his way when he is forward, because a lot of times he gets poky or sucks back pretty dramatically in front of a jump. However. I should really expect Husky to be forward, with good impulsion, while not rushing a fence and definitely coming back to me when I ask. He should be steady, marching and relaxed.
It’s so easy to say in hindsight.
We came to a jump too fast, and he was not listening to me when I asked him to wait. Our distance was way off, and we were going so fast that instead of chipping in an extra stride, he just took off from way far back. This caused him to overjump spectacularly, which threw me off balance a bit. He landed hard and I think he tweaked his left hind as we re-entered the atmosphere and made contact with Earth again. He threw his head down and bucked once, hard. I got launched pretty far and hit the ground hard. It felt like I hurt myself pretty near the same place as when I fell off Joe, but this time it hurt more.
So, what did I do? I got back on, obvs. We walked around to catch our breath and then went back at the same jump. I think Leanne thought I was a little insane when I said, “okay, I’m ready – let’s do some more jumps now.” But I know myself and if I don’t immediately get over some jumps after a fall, then the fear starts setting in. I can’t give myself time to dwell on what happened (or for any pain to really set in all the way). If I just get back to work and fix the problem, then it won’t become a larger issue in my head.
Off we went, and Husky went over everything very nicely and was much steadier. On each approach, I counted in my head, “one; two; one; two” to make sure I kept the rhythm of the correct stride and speed in my body. We did a couple more lines and everything was great. No more jumping like a deer, no more charging through my aids. However, he was a little goofy about turning to the right after landing, and I think he was feeling the tweak in his hind a little. We wrapped up with a long walk for both of us, bute for him and Advil for me.
Thankfully I feeling pretty good after a couple of days, and my back doesn’t hurt like it did when I fell off Joe. I do have a big, bright purple bruise and some stiff muscles. Thank goodness that’s all, because the first show of the summer is exactly one month away and we have a lot to accomplish before then.
The moral of the story is that I have learned an important lesson. Husky should – and definitely can – be forward without rushing, and can come back to my aids without getting poky. Just like his body is physically in a “box” between my aids so he can’t bulge out or get crooked, his speed is also in a box. There is an acceptable speed and way of going, and when he goes too slow or too fast, he is outside the box and needs correcting.
On another note, I’ve been getting a lot of migraines lately (thus the dry spell on posts lately). I’ve been getting them every few days, which is very unusual for me. Anyone else in the upper-Midwest struggling with that right now? I’m going on the theory that it’s either high pollen counts or the weather/atmospheric pressure changes. I also decided that falling off Husky jolted my body back to normalcy and that it meant I wouldn’t be getting any more migraines. You know, because science. (Sadly, this didn’t hold true; I got the telltale blind spot “aura” this morning that always is the Harbinger of Doom; thankfully I took a crapton of Advil Migraine immediately and the headache didn’t arrive. Take that, migraine!)
Now if only I could set Husky lines. I would make him write, “I am a proper hunter, not a wild jumper with a screw loose.”
What are your strategies for not letting fear in when you fall off?
How do you keep your horse in the “sweet spot” of impulsion and control while on-course?