On Sunday I took the lovely Toronto to a show jumping clinic with William Blane. He’s only been getting fit for a few weeks so I took it very easy on him, making sure we had plenty of breaks to get his breath back, and at times asked William to drop a couple of fences, so as not to put too much pressure on him. It’s been a long time since he went out anywhere, and he’s never been out anywhere with me, so it’s a new experience (although he has previously been out and about so not a particularly stressful thing for him). Also my first time jumping Toronto, as the focus these last few weeks has been on getting his fitness levels up, so he could cope with a clinic. I was extremely pleased with how it went and got a new piece of the puzzle to work on in my riding, which has never been picked up by an instructor or coach before, and that was working on my landing. With the thought of wanting Toronto to keep going after the jump I was too eager to get down in the saddle after the jump. I’ve heard so many times in my lessons and others’ lessons, about sitting up after the jump, I’ve not given much consideration to whether you can sit back up too quickly. It was refreshing to hear this from William, and bought my attention round to this otherwise untouched piece. By ‘sitting up’ and getting down to the saddle to quickly I was inadvertently driving Toronto’s energy down to the floor, essentially creating the opposite of what I was after. After a couple of jumps focusing on this and making a few tweeks to myself to stay lighter just that little bit longer, Toronto was able to gather himself together easier and keep the energy flowing on to the next fence.
I think Toronto enjoyed himself as each time it got to our turn he would have a little spurt of energy, and really perk up ready to show them all how it’s done. A couple of jumps in a row was enough before he needed another little rest to catch his breath. I felt some really lovely moments from him where he was light in the hand, lifted through his wither and really powering on from behind. An exhilarating feeling when you get it, especially from the larger/stockier horses, as you really get to appreciate the power they have and what they are capable of. I had one moment with him the other week where he did this, joyfully jumping in to canter in the woods and it was wonderful to feel it again in the arena, and a bit more often too. It can also be quite distracting, I found myself a couple of times just lost in the moment of lightness and strength, before I got my head back on to the task that William had given us. I am really looking forward to next month’s clinic when Toronto will have had another few weeks getting fitter.