So, you’re hoping to compete in the Adequan®/FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) presented by Gotham North? Congratulations! The NAYC, formerly known as the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), is a goal that hundreds of young equestrians pursue every year.
For quite a long while, we have been alternating lessons: Monday on DeJure, Wednesday on Atara. However, because we are in preparation for our first show of the season, I rode Jure both days this week. Before I continue this story, two things are important to know….
First, I have had a fairly long history with my lower back, from the sixth grade, when I started seeing a chiropractor. Inserts were given, and the issue resolved itself, until this year. It happens when I bend down, even without heavy lifting or being sudden. It tweaks, and I can’t move for half an hour.
Second, one of my biggest issues that we have been working on this winter is avoiding, as Liz (Austin) puts it, sitting “windswept”. This makes sitting, especially in the trot and canter, much more difficult than it needs to be, and throws Jure off balance.
So, what’s the connection between the two here?
We are moving houses (again), so I was packing up my from before my lesson. Unfortunately, as I leaned forward, I started to feel the dreaded pinch and went down. I sat for a bit (more like lay down on my face), and started to stretch it. I had less than 20% mobility than I usually have.
Keep in mind this is half an hour before my lesson, a day before my first show of the season.
So, fast-forward 30 minutes with a lot of heating, icing, stretching, repeat. I am sitting on Jure, telling Tanya about my back, when she realizes that this is actually a good thing. I can’t lean back! And if I do start to, the agonizing pain should remind me. So, we go on through my lesson as normal, and ended up with my best position riding yet! When I stayed upright and tall, I could focus on keeping my hands up, which helped keep my elbows in, which helped everything else!
This taught me an important lesson: to make the best out of what you’ve got, and to turn a negative experience into a positive one.
Tonight, May 4th, I had my first real lesson on Jure since November! It was greater than I could have asked for, she felt super, and I felt like I was back riding in the Kathy Connelly clinic that I had ridden in almost exactly a year ago.
We (Tanya Rennie, Jure and I) tried a new exercise; we started out with an upbeat walk, halting into each corner, then focusing on bending and maintaining balance throughout. We then warmed up the trot, staying elastic, relaxed and on the bit, while largely cutting corners. Once we had warmed up, we continued the same exercise at the trot, but walking into and through the corner. Coming out, we kept Jure light on my leg, seat, and hand aids, ringing my wrists as if they were bells to keep her light and getting the best possible trot right from the get-go. A few walk-canter-walk transitions were one of the greatest highlights of my ride (even though I could highlight the whole thing!); since I have been struggling a bit with the canter depart, maintenance, and depart on Atara, cantering on Jure was a dream!