Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Meet The Fences Derby Part 1: Saturday Lesson

I am still smiling! Even with all of real life burying me alive right now, all it takes is a peek at my weekend pictures to lift me back up.

I'm going to steal a moment right now and fill you in on the first day of fun!

As part of the Manitoba Horse Trails spring derby, participants were offered field time on Saturday of an hour and a half with either your own coach or one assigned to you. I was really lucky to be assigned someone who not only was a highly respected and sought after coach, but who I ended up doing well with style-wise.

First small field
My lesson was with three other people; two of whom were mostly inexperienced and the third riding an absolute school master. It turned out to be a great dynamic for all of us to get comfortable over little jumps and have help 'following the leader' on more difficult obstacles with the school master in our group.

My time spent acquainting her to the park was well spent as she settled in and I was able to hop on right away and warm up with no issues at all. She was a bit up, but still had no problem moving forward and freely over her back in a steady trot and canter prior to starting any jumps.

The first jump we would try was the smallest one in the park, a large log directly on the ground. C was immediately in my good books when she asked us to first come up to it and walk over. Definitely my speed for Savvy's and my first xc obstacle ever.

Saturday lesson video of first two jumps
I felt good jumping it at a trot from both directions and then canter. My challenge at this point was to learn to sit up a bit and ride more defensively. Changing posture habits is always a difficult task, but more so as an over-thinker, I think balancing the assertiveness to commit to the jump while physically preparing for the worst will be a struggle.

After a few jumps in the first field, we moved on to a second larger field and working on some more log jumps but with the added difficulty of it being on a slope. C taught us about how to shift our legs and upper body according to ground slope and the importance of keeping our shoulders back and head up at all times.

Second larger field from the top of the hill (much higher and steep than the picture suggests).
Next was a two-tiered bank. I thought it would be easy--haha! Um, well it is not as easy as I imagined. Going up took some encouragement and coming down took a lead horse. Savvy stepped gently up when finally convinced and LAUNCHED down in massive dear leaps. We landed straight though, so staying on was not an issue at all. Her second time down was entirely different with a gentle slow-motion step down for each step.

Our last jump would be a barn. I almost typed 'adorable little red barn' just now, but really I was seeing 'huge, beastly, way too high and wide' red barn. I was shocked it was part of the Pre-Entry but C was giving me the look that I better practice it because it just might be part of my course the following day. Two of the other riders in my group chose not to even try it. The rider on the school master popped over on her massive 16'3" hand horse NBD.

The hill taken from about half way up, with line of barns at the top and me contemplating life before jumping it.
I was mildly freaking out, but not entirely because of the jump. Actually, everything had been going so well up to this point I was thinking it might go well. Except this jump was at the top of the hill right beside the busy park road. None of the other jumps were. Still no big deal, except the fact that a bike race was going on and gaggles of cyclists were zipping by and Savvy was loosing her marbles from it. Every approach I was trying turned into a prancy/counter-canter/trotty/hoppy mess with her eyeballs on the road instead of the jump. How do you approach the biggest jump of your horse's life (it was 2'6" tall and just about as wide and Savvy has only gone up to 2' so far) while she can't even 'horse' her way up to it?

Enjoy this fugly moment I finally get over the beastly red barn. (Please be kind in your thoughts, it was a massive challenge both mentally for me and wonder pony).

I was so proud of us both regardless of fugly moments! Our efforts were rewarded at the end of the lesson with heading over to the water and trotting in and out, cooling off the ponies and letting them paw and splash.

Sunday would be derby day and after such a fantastic lesson, I was feeling so excited for it! (even though thoughts of a red barn in my course had me slightly concerned I might get eliminated...)


  1. 1) Savvy's fancy little toe flicks when she lands from some of those jumps have straight up stolen my heart. i luff her. she is so freakin fun!
    2) that commentary over the read barn tho, "yay you survived!" made me giggle. bc omg yes we have all been there (i have video of a friend doing basically the exact same thing over a similarly imposing red table at our event last week)
    3) all of this makes me so damn happy for you!!! can't wait to read the rest!

    1. Aw, yes Savvy is rediculously lovable (tenfold now after how much try she had in her this past weekend!). Haha, hubby was quite the creeper trying to get video without disturbing the lesson. I laughed at all his little comments!

  2. Replies
    1. It was so much fun and a great setup for the derby :)

  3. You should be proud of yourself and Savvy! You got it done, even in challenging circumstances. And you did really good with your position even when she failed pretty good.

    1. Oh, thank you so much! Its hard to share the ugly but it was an important jump for me. Committing to that jump was huge for me and I am proud of Savvy for trusting me enough to try.

  4. What a fantastic day! The red barn jump is awesome, she's not taking any chances and going for the giant leap, then she's like..."well maybe I should look and touch it?". Well done! I'm envious of your fields and course, it looks lovely there.

    1. Haha! Yes, Savvy is a classic overthinker and likes to take time to think/look/touch beforehand. Oh man was it ever a nice field! From the park road you cannot see any of it so I had actually never seen it before lesson day.

  5. This is so cool. I wish they had events like this around here. You guys look like you're having a lot of fun.

    1. It is definitely a great setup for newbies, and it was very affordable.