Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Video: Jumping Fun Day!

Harley has been such a good boy, that I felt it was about time for a fun day.  Cross-training or just a change of pace is so important for an athlete's mind and body, horse or human.  Sometimes our "Fun Day" is a trail ride.  Sometimes we play at liberty or free jump.  Groundwork (lungeing, long lining, or body awareness exercises) is also a great alternative.  Trick training is an enjoyable food-related option.

I was thinking about a trail ride, but a few horses went out and came back with chiggers, so that changed my mind.  Then, I remembered that I brought my jumping saddle home for a safety check and promptly forgot about it.  August has been a much more bearable month than July temperature-wise, so I brushed off my jumping saddle and decided that Harley was long overdue for some jumping fun!

Not trying to break any height records.  Just having some fun!

If you want some background information, I wrote about teaching Harley to jump in "Fun with Free Jumping".

A word about my jumping saddle.

I have a Wintec Jumping Pro, an old brown one with a wide channel, changeable gullets, faux suede covering the seat and knee rolls, and Cair panels.  It was a midnight impulse purchase on Ebay a couple years ago after a realized that my dressage saddle just wasn't cutting it for jumping.  I do not recommend impulse Ebay purchases or impulse saddle purchases of any kind, as I have been burned in the past, but this saddle has definitely earned its place in the tack room.  When Harley and I embarked on our long journey for a dressage saddle that fit both of us, this cheap*, used, jumping saddle was the only thing I could ride him in comfortably.  Or at least, he was comfortable.  I had to get used to hiked up stirrups and a seat that was much farther behind my feet than I was accustomed.  I also had to get used to riding without so much of my leg around the horse.  This contributed to the discovery that Harley hates (HATES) rider legs that go too far back.  Riding with my legs in the jumping position reinforced this, as I was unable to swing my lower leg near his flanks and he was gleeful at the handicap with which I was... eh hem... saddled.

*My husband does not think $400 is cheap.  Just wait until he gets bitten by the horse bug and goes saddle shopping for the first time!  ;)

I have a sincere appreciation for my jumping saddle, but I also have a love-hate relationship with this fuzzy, brown, synthetic piece of tack.  I love it, because it is light as a feather and the best, most comfortable saddle for jumping.  I am not speaking from a long list of jumping saddles here.  The truth is that I used to only ride in all-purpose saddles and now that I have ridden in dressage saddles and saddles cut for jumping, I have to say that a saddle designed for the job makes a world of difference.  All-purpose saddles are okay for lots of different activities, but do not really shine like a specialized saddle.  I do not fault them, because all-purpose was designed to be well-rounded!

Now my jumping saddle is no fun at the trot.  This is why I hate it.  Rising trot is a chore and a dressage rider is lost without her trotwork.  I have to constantly think about keeping my legs in front of me and my seat back towards the cantle, because otherwise I end up posting on the pommel (ouch!).  Harley loses impulsion, probably because he thinks I am going to fall off with all my fussing to keep all my body parts in place, and so I also have to remind my usually game horse to keep the pace.  After a few obligatory trot circuits I can hardly stand it, so we finally canter.

In the canter, the jumping saddle sings.

This saddle was made for cantering.  It was made for cantering and jumping.  Everything seems to fall into place and I forget that I am a dressage rider and I love to ride with relaxed leg muscles and my feet under my seat bones.  The jumps come up and the saddle just seems to put me in the right position all on its own.  It is not about the Wintec brand.  I have tried some of the Wintec dressage models and they did not give me the awe factor like the Jumping Pro.  Maybe if I jumped regularly or jumped large fences I would feel differently, but there is just something about this saddle.  It makes for a darn good fun day!

Here is a video of Harley and I having some fun with jumping.  This is the first time that we have jumped together since last summer, so the jumps are not meant to be mentally or physically taxing.  This is actually the first time ever that we have jumped a series of jumps continuously, which is probably why Harley breaks before the third jump.  When I urged him on, his reaction was

"Oh, this one too?  COOL!"

You will also notice that I circle around and repeat jumps that we bump or jump from the outside lead, because I want him to gymnasticize both leads, even if we are just having fun.  I ride very instinctively when I jump, because it was the first type of riding that I learned.  Not to be cliche, but it makes me feel like a kid again.

The last jump in the video felt the best.  He actually "locked on" and jumped with gusto.  I think that I need to make the other obstacles at least that size to get his attention.

Oh, and it would not be a fun day without a flying change.  Not in Harley's book.  ;)



  1. Really enjoyed the video. You two are so harmonious - a great pair. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. That means a lot to me. Thank you.

  3. That really looks like fun! I love watching Harley move about. I just think he's terrific and you guys just seem so in tune with each other. I only wish it was a little closer. I did see the flying lead change, well done!

  4. Ooh! That looks like fun! Harley looked like he was enjoying himself. :0)


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