Picking up where I left off, I arrived at the barn in plenty of time to get Manny and me ready. Thankfully he wasn’t covered in dried mud this time. There was a lady there who rode in the clinic that also brought her MagnaWave machine. I decided to try it for myself and Manny before our ride since the cost was extremely reasonable. I was up first and it was a strange sensation to say the least, but my lower back felt better after one session than it has in years. Manny wasn’t able to get an extremely thorough session due to time constraints, but he felt a lot looser warming up than what he typically does.
I walked around for about a minute or so, then went to the center of the ring to introduce myself and Manny to Silvio. He asked what we did and I told him we’ve been together since the end of October, we recently started jumping and we hadn’t done much course work yet.
He had us go walk a couple laps, then trot. Once we had done that, I came back to the center of the ring to get instructions for our next exercise. We’re lucky to have a good sized indoor arena that allows for a full course of jumps, plus some room for flat work. I’ll save all of you from my terrible drawing skills, but here’s the gist of the course: Up the center of the ring through the grid, circle right, up the outside line (6 strides), circle right, down the diagonal fence, down the long side, around the end and circle left, one stride to a 4 stride on the outside, circle left, over another fence on the other diagonal, down the long side, around the end and over another diagonal fence, down the long side, all the way around the end of the ring, down the other diagonal almost entirely and over the last fence.
We started this exercise at the trot with all the fences being poles on the ground. Manny loves jumping and generally isn’t spooky, but he hadn’t seen the poles since they had been repainted. He was looking at all of them the first time around between his legs. It was an interesting feeling. I also for the first time in my life forgot where I was going over a course of ground poles. I guess to be fair, I haven’t jumped an entire course of jumps since 2016 and there were a lot of ground poles in this exercise.
Once we had gone through at the trot, we went back through starting at the trot and asking for the canter over the first pole in each part of the exercise, including the circles in all 4 corners. Manny was less reactive to the bright paint colors the second time around, but he started anticipating the canter transitions and in typical Manny fashion, his head went straight up in the air. After one time around, Silvio left the arena to go get something. At the time I wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he came back with a de Gogue. I hadn’t ever ridden in one before, so I was a bit skeptical. Since I was paying Silvio for his opinion, I went on my way once the de Gogue was properly adjusted and I had gotten back on.
We started the same exercise over, starting at the canter over what was now a course of small jumps. This time Silvio told me to land in two point after the fence and to sit down only for the simple change (if necessary) and for the circles. I would estimate the circle was about 15 meters and it was tough to ride. Between asking for the canter, trying to keep him between my reins and straightening out before the approach to the fence, there was a lot to get done in a short amount of time. Silvio told me more than once that my hands were too close together, particular in the circles. Even though it felt weird to widen them, it made a big difference.
We had some breaks to the trot, I need to work on keeping my leg underneath me while sitting the canter and of course work on getting a good bend but straightening out in time to approach the fence. Silvio also was saying hands higher at one point and I couldn’t understand what he was saying, so I walked. Once I understood, I picked the canter back up and went on my way. For anyone who doesn’t know, Silvio is originally from Argentina. He isn’t difficult to understand, but it takes a bit of getting used to when you’ve never ridden with him.
Eventually the fences were all about 2’0″ and we were getting the strides everywhere, getting the circles, but we were still having issues with cutting off our turn to the two diagonal fences. Our last course went well, but we had to fix those two fences. Silvio set a flower box at that end of the ring for a reference point for our turns and we finally got it.
As in any aspect of my life, I don’t always have a lot of confidence in my skills and my ability. I felt so unprepared for my lesson with Silvio, but it went really well. I’m so glad that I’m not only able to ride Manny, but that I got to borrow him to ride with Silvio. We have a few goals on the horizon for this year, but in the mean time we’re going to keep working hard and hopefully get a chance to show Silvio our progress next time he’s in town.