Today was an interesting day. :) I was just thinking to myself that I was about due to come off of Dan. And yep.... It happened. Lawn dart #2. Doh!
Beth had a grid day planned today so Danny and I hauled over. When we got on, Rusty and Danielle were warming up and then Ashleigh was riding Darcy. Darcy was being a bit naughty and crow hopping some, so Dan joined in on the fun. But it was fine. He started with that super bouncy piaffey trot that is near impossible to ride! Then he put in a few little bolts and crow hops too. But it wasn't bad. And he settled nicely.
We started off with the ground poles. Beth had us walk straight through. Which was the hardest part of the day!! Getting Dan to march at the walk while he is in the arena is tough! He either wants to putz or trot. After two or three times through we trotted through. Then she set up an X. Then we progressed to 2 X's, then 3 X's, all one strides. I think it was about here that Beth was telling me that Danny was behind my leg, which was why he was jumping funky. Meanwhile, I had been asking him to go forward with my leg, and with my crop. And I had even done a few good solid smacks with the crop trying to get him in front of my leg. So when she mentioned it again, I decided to fix it and do some "shock and awe". But... I was a bad horse person. I think that I asked him to trot and he did. But it was a putzy trot. So instead of asking again with my leg, I just really whacked him with the crop. Well... it backfired. Literally! He let out a most gigantic buck, pulled the reins from my hands and I literally saw they fly out of my hands and over his head. So at this point I had NO REINS and he was in a huge buck. I briefly thought about grabbing the "Oh crap strap" and attempting to ride it out, but I was already unseated enough. And a little afraid about him getting tangled in the reins. And did I mention I had no reins!?! So I bailed. Not sure I would have been able to stick it out regardless. I went lawn darting into the ground. I landed on my knees, then belly flopped onto my chest and chin. It hurt. It knocked the wind out of me and for about 5 minutes I could only take shallow breaths. My thighs just above my right knee was sore, and my chest/sternum was awfully sore. My stomach was in knots too. I thought I might puke but didn't. I caught my breath. Then when I got up, I started crying. Not because of Danny.. because of Fleck. Sigh... stupid. So I caught my breath and got my horse. Who apparently let out the most gigantic of bucks after he lost me before running amuck to join the others in the middle of the arena. I was awfully embarassed that I had basically created the situation myself to get me dumped, but... oh well. I had smacked him fairly hard before and not gotten that kind of reaction! He was great the rest of the lesson (well, until the very end, but that wasn't bad). And... despite the side effects, my crop smack did work. He was actually in front of my leg from then on. ;) Ugh...
So we carried on. I was actually really proud of both of us. We ended up doing 3 high X's in one strides, to a 2 stride oxer. The X's were at the top of the standards, actually sitting on top of them, not even in cups. And the oxer was fairly decent looking. It was probably novice height but could have been training level. He was jumping well and my leg was cooperating. My hands and upper body were getting there. Then Beth had us add in the barrel jump. It was two downed barrels with poles on top, so little. But it was set at a slight angle touching the last fence in the grid. She had us do the grid, then track right, roll back off the rail and come to the barrels. It was tough! But Danny was brave and jumped right over. Then we had to do the grid and land left, then cut in front of the fence 2 strides from the oxer and go to the barrels off the left turn. It was tougher! I couldn't quite get brave enough to ask for the longer spot with Dan and we kept chipping in, but he did it. Finally on our last attempt we did it much more boldly. Still, I was quite proud of him because it was tough! Beth said I needed to ride him more like an adult/educated horse. It helped to ride him like Fleck a little bit.
We finished the ride with the grid, with the bigger fences, and worked on getting a more collected stride. He is so long that he tends to get long and flat. So I got him pretty collected, which made him a little mad and we got a little up and down again. But we circled and he settled and we had a really nice go. We did it 3 times in a row to burn it into our brains. The first time was a little sloppy but he was nice with his front end. Beth basically told me to help him out by keeping a tighter rein, a tighter connection, a more collected frame, and to keep my upper body up and my hands down. It felt a little bit like I was restricting his head and neck but in reality, while it was a little, it was helping him to jump better because he could still use his head and neck but he wasn't snaking it down and getting long and strung out. The second time through was better and he started to use his hind end. Beth had us do it one more time... to burn it in and it was AWESOME! He jumped beautifully and really rounded and my hands stayed right on his neck without having to grab my strap. My position felt great and I felt like I was really wrapped around him instead of hovering on top. We were a team! It was awesome. :)
So... quite a good day, aside from the whole belly flopping part. ;) My chin is a bit scabbed and my thigh just above my right knee is awfully sore. It hurts to push off the ground and lift that leg a certain way. But all in all I'm lucky.