Friday, January 22, 2010

Jimmy vs The Blue Saddle

Jimmy vs The Blue Saddle. The saddle won! I think. Yea, the saddle won! :)

I was able to take the day off work today for a lesson with Jim Wofford. You might ask - what about that wintry mix that came across DC today - did I risk my life driving through a winter storm, all for a lesson with Jimmy? Not totally, but maybe a little. My wonderful friend, Kim Clark, drove us out to Berryville, VA in her rig. I was a little too scared to take my new trailer - last week's rain storm was bad enough for the first trip. Ice, sleet and snow on the second trip sounded not so fun. Luckily, I think all of DC freaked out and took the day off work to stay home, so it was smooth sailing around the beltway. We even got there quite a bit early, and below is a picture of Katchi hanging out in Kim's trailer waiting for his lesson time. He was cracking me up, peeking his little head out the window!

At the start of my lesson, I had to ask Jimmy to take a look at the fit of the new saddle. I was really pleased that he thinks it fits me great and he really liked the shape! When he was looking at my knee angle and the shape of the front of the saddle, he said - "yes, they've really got this right!" But, what about the blue part, you ask?? I pointed to it and smiled real cute. Jimmy just said, "I'm going to pretend I didn't see that." Well, wasn't that diplomatic of him?! I'll take that as a win for the saddle!

Kim tried to take a few pictures of Katchi in the blue saddle, but between her horse "helping" with the photo process and the lighting, they're a little fuzzy. But, below is the best one. I thought about asking Jimmy to be in the picture - but I was afraid he might say no!

As for the actual lesson - it was great! Working with Jimmy is always great! This was my first time really jumping in the new saddle. I've had my old jumping saddle for about 15 years, so this is quite a change for me! Today's lesson was a series of different gymnastics lines designed to help the horse lengthen and shorten his frame. The first few jumps, I felt a total mess! Legs swinging everywhere... falling back in the saddle... general ugliness over fences! But it didn't take me too long to find my balance in the new saddle, and then Jimmy got down to work on dusting the cobwebs off my rusty position! Katchi did great today - Jimmy even said that he looks stronger than last year - jumping better and using his back and haunches better. And he sure felt great! As Jimmy said, today was about being an "intelligent passenger"- everything was on a loose rein, letting the horses find their feet and remember how to be clever. After their winter break, before the show season gets started, it's good to remind the horses that they are responsible for the jumping part - we're just along for the ride!

And to end with a funny note... before the lesson started, Jimmy was talking about various expeditions to the South Pole and climbing Mount Everest - basically, about surviving against all odds. The stories eventually turned to describing some climbers going past a body on the edge of a glacier, and thinking it was some adventurer who was lost in the area 17 years before - turns out it was some other guy who had just recently fallen off the cliff and died. Sharon White commented that this sure puts the danger of eventing into perspective! It's not like we go galloping around cross country, look down, and say, "oh, gee, there's ol' suzie who fell off last year..." I guess eventers aren't so crazy after all!

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