Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lesson with Brian Sabo

Ringo and I are getting back on track!!! Today I had a simply wonderful jumping lesson with Brian Sabo. It was my first time jumping (if you count higher than poles and a single little X) since leaving Gina's, and I was, I will admit, a bit apprehensive. Not all the way to nervous, but half of my mind was trying to convince me that I should do a dressage lesson instead right up until the moment I tightened the girth of my jump saddle!

As soon as we got going, I knew that this was going to be good. Brian really focused on the flatwork, and got me thinking about the quality of his gaits and the straightness of his body long before we approached any fences. I really liked how in depth and consistent his explanations were: he gave a detailed enough description that I really felt like I understood what I was being asked to do front to back, but his vision was unified enough that I also never got confused with the instructions he was trying to give me (a major problem with instructors in the past, who have either been spartan or verbose without purpose, both of which I find very flustering). He was also managed to be very positive while still demanding a lot; there was even a moment where he said (approximately), "Now, I said that that last transition was good, but I know you probably didn't think so. Yes, there is a lot to work on, and I know you could feel all of that, but there were parts that were much better. You're smart, and will keep working on those other parts; focus on what improved." This attitude is so vastly different from the vibe I've been getting in my training in the past, where for some combination of my personality with my instructor's, its been very hard for me to get a positive and yet still realistic impression of what was going on (I would either feel crushed or falsely buoyed up); this time I definitely understood the things to work on, but didn't feel at all deflated.

The entire lesson continued in much the same tone. I didn't ever feel like the lesson was falsely positive or frivolous (in fact the vibe was quite the opposite, with a lot of focus and concentration going on), yet I came out with a very positive feeling of where I should go from here. We focused heavily on the quality of Ringo's canter, his straightness in my reins, and my strategies for approaching each fence. Brian has a very distinct philosophy about approach strategy that I really vibe with, which we revisited today to great success. I was definitely a bit rusty at first! It was interesting to see, when we broke down each phase of the fence so specifically, where my mind shuts off as a rider. I always imagine that its the last few strides where I go to pieces, but it became clear that it was actually much earlier that the disconnect occurs and that I actually manage the problems I give myself in the last few strides pretty much as well as they can be! So, by focusing more on the quality of canter and half halt directly out of the turn, I was able to get both Ringo and I on the same page much sooner and so have to do a lot less work in the last few strides before the fence. It was so cool to feel the change in Ringo's attitude towards the jumps when I did it right! Cool, steady, calm, straight (!!) and a great jumping effort every single time.

So, our homework for next time:

-straightness, especially through outside aids
-equal weight in both reins, in both directions
-shoulder-fore in canter down the quarterlines
-practice the approach strategy (forward through turn, set stride length, half halt according to fence type, sit chilly to fence) over SMALL fences
-angle fences on the left lead from right to left to practice jumping straight to untrain the right drift

Good man, Ringo!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

What a fabulous description of your lesson! I feel like I learned something just getting the summary of your lesson. What a fabulous trainer you have found. I am so jealous-- I could probably sustain for months (or years) on one amazing lesson like that!
Please continue to post on them , so that I may live (and learn) vicariously!

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