Enter the cloverleaf.
I am not promising amazing success or tremendous obstacles, but I think that you will still find the video entertaining. Harley certainly was game, even if his pilot was feeling a little rusty in raised stirrups.
Just in case there is any confusion, we are normally "dressagers" not jumpers (I am sure that was obvious!). Except for a couple inviting cross-rails left in the ring this winter, this was the first time that we have jumped since last summer. I like to jump once in a while to mix things up a bit. Harley seems to like jumping and can get pretty excited. You may have noticed the wind pick up as he approached the jumps a couple times. That was all Harley and his exuberance. He is really fun to point at a little fence, because, win or lose, you know he is going to go for it. Unfortunately, rushing at the fence does not do very much for our form and this is when he tends to knock things down. I do my best to keep him in a steady pace and stay with him.
The cloverleaf turned out to be a very challenging exercise for us. I am not sure if it qualified as a "fun" alternative, because it required so much focus and concentration. The turns come up really quickly. There were a couple times where I got stuck circling the jumps just trying to figure out how to get into the exercise. Where do I begin?
We sort of completed a cloverleaf going to the right. We tried it going to the left after this video clip, but we were not very successful. Harley also seemed to be getting a little stressed out. I think that we were over-faced. The cloverleaf looks simple (just loop around to the next jump and keep the direction the same the whole time), but in practice, simple it is not!
If you happen to be a rider who goes in jump tack on a regular basis, I have major respect for what you do. I am used to long stirrups and relaxed leg muscles. I rode with shorter stirrups in my jumping saddle, but, in hindsight, I realized they needed to be a hole or two shorter. I felt like I had to keep pushing my foot forward and my seat back. The cut of the saddle is completely opposite to a dressage saddle, so my body was totally confused! In fact, I think that I had an easier time hopping over those cross-rails this winter, because I was in my dressage saddle. How are you supposed to use your leg when riding in jumping position? I kept wanting to move my legs around to steer or rebalance Harley, but this just unbalanced me! To be honest, I felt handicapped. Any tips from the jumping folks are welcome.
No worries, though. We still had a blast!