I haven't ridden since Tuesday of last week, but had a bit of a nutty time between then and now, with the bazaar in Toronto, so just getting to this today.
Last week's lesson included a bunch of flat work, just a couple of flying changes (that were not the smoothest, but better than some!) and quite a bit of two point work. I was pretty stiff with the cold, and breathing pretty heavily. Partly the cold, partly the fact that I've let my cardio fitness (or any non-riding fitness) completely slide??
I've started to be a bit concerned, over the last couple of months, about my current ankle position. I know I'm rolling them too much. Putting more weight on the outside of the ball of my foot was extremely helpful to getting my toes in and getting the wrapped-around-the-horse feeling with my legs, but it's not great for two point and jumping. Jumpers tend to weight the inside of the ball of the foot more, which, while it does drive the toes out on some people, does prevent a rolled ankle. And my ankle was definitely rolling! Cantering in a circle, in two point, on a left rein was making my right ankle HURT! Oops. Had to stop and shake it out a few times. It wasn't a problem on a right rein. I guess I'm weighting that ankle too much when it's the outside one. Grrr.
It's frustrating because I've been training my legs this way, consciously or unconsciously, all season. It feels "correct" now. And it feels great for seated flat work, and looks nice because my leg is so on and wrapped around, but it's going to cause me problems if I keep doing two point and jumping without changing something. Attempting to shift my weight further in on the stirrup bar makes my knees pinch though, and makes my whole leg feel tense and tight. I think I need to just put in a bunch more saddle time to feel out some different strategies. Find what works for me. Maybe do some ankle strengthening exercises at home, too. Tricky time right now to be trying to practice anything under saddle -- too busy, too cold!!
We did a bit of jumping this time -- just trotting and cantering on a circle over a single cross rail -- and that went better than it has. I'm still tense about it but I think the only way to get over that is to jump small things so often that it almost becomes boring. I've been having a lot of problems with my release over the jumps -- I feel like I haven't been able to get my hands forward enough (probably defensively, because I'm worried I might need to lean on them for balance if something goes awry) and I end up slipping the reins on landing so I don't catch the horse in the mouth, and then I have to reorganize after. NOT a good situation for jumping more than one jump!!
I think a contributing factor was that I've been choking up too short on the reins and riding in in too MUCH of a two point, instead of staying in a light seat to the base. That prevents me from having anywhere to go TO release. So this time I kept my reins longer and stayed more upright until I was at the jump. No rein slipping this week! Still not *pretty*, but more functional at least.
After taking the jump a half dozen times each way, we stopped that and went back to some trot and canter transitions on a circle in two point. (This is when the ankle thing started happening.) M was still so keen to jump, she kept trying to pull off the circle to go towards it. Haha, cute. She also got FAST and STRONG on me, especially when we went back on the rail. I was actually sitting right up, leaning back and PULLING with all my weight to get her out of the canter. Makes me apprehensive about what she'd be like to jump at a show. :/ At no point did I feel like she was taking off on me -- it was actually pretty humourous -- but woooooo, big fast horse!! :O She'd just been started on Previcox for stiffness in her hocks. If this is her being zippy when she's not moving at her best, she's going to potentially be quite a rocket when it takes effect.
My transitions continue to feel a lot better. My leads were either all correct or almost all correct? Landed on the wrong one a few times after the jump, but neither transitioned up into the wrong lead. The transition to canter feels faster and sharper -- not as much "work" in setting up. I can get it pretty much right away. The walk-to-canter transitions are better too. My walk to trot has improved since I've switched from applying heel to bumping with the inside of my calf. Funny how doing things the RIGHT way helps.