**For the extent of this lease, Miss BFF Extraordinaire will be making guest appearances on the blog. Apologies in advance if there's formatting issues (always formatting issues). Since I am not riding Mr Pants, or around him much, sometimes stories are best told by the one involved the most! I'm sure if I told the story it would go something like "Jackie rode the Yankee and they were amazing here are some pictures" and that would be it. Without further ado, Jackie's post about the clinic she participated in with Yanks:
|Jackie on Isis in 2014, the mare she used to own|
|Jackie on Yanks, circa 2012|
JACKIE: Before I delve into the juiciness that is this blog post, I want to put out there how much I truly appreciate Monica for trusting me with the most majestic and talented horse that there ever was. For those of you who haven’t met Yankee, you may not understand how truly remarkable he is, I know ‘pictures speak a thousand words’ but Yankee’s true remark-ability is discovered when you are around him. Yankee is by far the most amazing horse I have ever had the privilege to ride, and I’ve ridden A LOT of horses.
ANYWAY, into the blog, as some of you may know I went to a clinic last weekend with the Crankster and needless to say I was a little anxious. I had only ridden about 15 times since I got him back and we had only jumped twice. I work full time, part time AND I’m getting my masters, so finding time to work a horse back into shape has been a bit tricky. The good thing is, riding Yankee is like riding a bike to me, you just don’t forget. He had some small quirks from his previous lease (everyone has a different riding style) but he responded to me again just like years ago.
On Saturday we were heading to dressage day, we had quite some time since our ride wasn’t until 4:40. Yankee is an old pro at trailering and heading to new places, my friend picked us up at 1, drove us to her barn and loaded her little mare, putting us at the clinic location at 3. The clinician, Moray Nicholson, was teaching a dressage lesson before ours so we stopped in to see what he was having the rider do. She was a hunter rider with a super green horse, so they weren’t doing much besides just trying to make her horse actually work and use it’s body. I ramble, sorry.
Once we tacked up and were on, I was kind of concerned, spoiler alert, I had no reason to be. When we first started working Yankee was trying to chase the mare we came with, he just wanted to be around her, so we focused on circles as far away from her as possible until he relaxed. Moray just had us ‘warm up like normal’ and Yankee started working like a dream. After our warm up, Moray pulled us into the middle (my friend Bridget rode with us) and talked to us about our horses. Bridget has a green baby and he said they needed to work on relaxation and flexing and bending. Yankee on the other hand, words directly from Moray’s mouth, whoever had him for the last year let him get away with working half assed and I’m not sure why, so let’s find out.
He started us working on a square, focusing on making Yankee bend in each corner and wrap around the leg, Moray wanted me to ‘stop helping him so much’. Moray said that Yankee is walking a turn and he should be able to hold himself through that since I am not inhibiting him with my riding. After walking our square we started trotting it, then throwing in circles in the corners, then finally a square with four 10 meters circles in each corner. Tracking left, Yankee and I were nailing it, when we changed direction, Yankee was much more tense. Moray watched for a few minutes without speaking and finally said that all of Yankee’s issues currently are from the last year and have NOTHING to do with my riding, I am doing everything right. He told me that it is important sometimes to let horses make their own mistakes and to stop trying to make Yankee perfect. He told me that it is necessary for horses to be able to hold themselves (Duh) and they cannot rely on their riders all the time. He said the fact that over the last year, someone held him and didn’t let him learn to hold himself, translates directly into his XC issues, he doesn’t trust himself. We worked a bit in the canter but he said we were lovely and balanced and our canter didn’t need any work. He said without a doubt that Yankee could go prelim, and even maybe higher as long as I keep him supplemented and in good work.
Needless to say, I was incredibly happy that someone of Moray’s capacity had positive things to say about Yankee and I. We untacked, cooled off, watched another lesson and took the horses to the barn for the night.
The next morning was jumping day, and our lesson was at 8:20am. We got there around 720 and tacked up early to warm up before Moray got out, to optimize our jumping time. We were the only jump group to jump outside in the big arena with some awesome questions. Moray again, asked us to warm up normally and then had us pop over a small vertical. Of course Yankee was perfect, when Moray had us jump an oxer, I got the guilty talk. Moray told me that I DO TOO MUCH (really, I know that, just in every aspect of my life) and I need to do less. He said my position in between fences and approaching is absolutely perfect, he said Yankee and I are balanced and lovely approaching and I move too much over the fences. Yankee is not the most talented jumper in the world, he is amazing, do not get me wrong. But Yankee has a tendency to be lazy with his front end, and when a rider moves too much, he lacks the ability to truly control his own shoulder. We worked on me doing less and staying stationary to the fences.
|**Monica interjection--don't they look amazing?!?|
Yankee’s jumping was night and day after that. We were nailing every distance and Yankee didn’t look at anything. Moray was slowly stringing courses together, adding one jump at a time, and he said Yankee and I were obviously ‘fierce jumper competitors’ and he even said that ‘we work together’. Moray said a bit about how some riders might not like jumping a horse like Yankee, which surprised me because I love him. He said Yankee utilizes momentum to clear the large fences (not that he can’t do it without it, it is Yankee’s preference) and that his pace can be inconsistent due to that. He strives on collection and impulsion between the fences and surging and flying after them and not everyone enjoys that kind of ride. He said I ride Yankee perfectly and when I keep my body back and stay with him, we are textbook perfect.
We strung together a trot fence, to a small vertical, long approach to a skinny brick wall, sharp left turn to a skinny, sharp left turn again to an oxer on an angle and we nailed every distance and had no issues. Moray said Yankee and I have a trusting relationship that not many pairs have. When I cannot see a distance, he said I sit quietly and lower my hands and Yankee takes us. He said when Yankee questions a jump or is unsure of a distance he brings his head down and collects more, telling me he needs me. He said it looked instinctual that I would simply add leg, raise his head and pick a spot for him.
I know this all sounded braggy, but this is what Moray said. Yankee is the shit, and relies on his rider as much as the rider relies on their horse. I’m looking forward to seeing where we go in the future, with positive encouragements from Moray I have no doubt Yankee can excel at Training and potentially even do some Prelim events.
We have a winter Combined Test series coming up in January and hopefully we will do three of the CT’s at training level to build some confidence. I can’t want to show everyone just how amazing my main betch’s horse is, if that isn’t already blatantly obvious. Until next time bloggers.