I know I said before that I wouldn't jump side saddle ever again but I'm sorry, it's in my blood.
Hattie HATES dressage and to be honest, I find it boring too so yesterday while in the school trying battle through our dressage test for the show on Sunday, I got off, got out my friend's jump and set a 1' cross rail (the one in the photo). We trotted it first and Hattie was "blah, this is boring" so we cantered it on both reins and she was revved up afterwards and was nice and forward for practising our test.
I got left behind the first two times jumping it as I was trying to get back into the groove of things and Hattie was rushing as she was excited to be jumping, but at the third time, I realized that I was leaning too far forward anticipating the jump and Hattie was falling on the forehand which always makes her take off too early, causing me to get left behind (she does this when jumping astride too).
I thought to myself at that point that "I need to get my sh*t together as this is ridiculous, anybody think I've never jumped in my life". So sat up straight, kept up my ribcage up (this is how I think of my core muscles), right shoulder WAY back, raised my hands a little higher and half halted at the times when I started to feel Hattie want to go on the forehand and kept that right toe pointed WAY down.
It worked, Hattie didn't rush the fence, chip in or take off long before. I could see the strides and feel when she started to gather up herself to jump and was able to get forward and out of the saddle for the take off. We did this today as well while schooling and this time, each jump was perfect.
It just felt so easy.
It's also strange how much your right leg affects the horse's way of going too. My pointing my right toe down, Hattie can feel the resistance on the saddle, slows down and balances herself. I tried this on a 20 metre circle that we have been practising and have been having trouble with.
The circle starts at C in medium walk on the right rein until X, when you have to pick up a working trot. Hattie is in a nice outline for the first half of the circle for the walking bit but then gets excited and anticipates the upward transition at X and goes around with her head up in the air in a "Standardbred" style trot to finish the test!!
So today I got my right toe down at C as I could feel her thinking "whoopee, just need to finish this circle and then I am done!" and did my little half halts and we did it! It wasn't perfect but we picked up a normal "Thoroughbred" trot at X so that is good enough for me for now as I'm giving Hattie the day off from schooling tomorrow as I want her in a good mood for Sunday (we're going hacking tomorrow instead). Before our show on Sunday, I'm going to warm up in my friend's school, do a couple of jumps, then walk down to the show and do a small warm up there to finish our warmup for our test.
I feel that yesterday, a piece in the side saddle puzzle of riding fell into place. We're not there yet but at least it's a start!