After six weeks off, I had not one but two lessons last week, and two more this week! (and then I left this post behind in the drafts and so this was written some weeks ago in Mid-June. I decided to post it and then work on a more concise wrap up of my last couple months during my blogging hiatus.)
My usual trainer was riding Jazz for me while I was busy in May, working on w/t/c, a bit of contact and leg yielding to build up the muscles in her back. She said it was probably good for her to have ridden Jazz herself, because she got a lot better sense of how Jazz feels and reacts to things. We spent the entire lesson at the walk, working mostly on contact and some leg yields. It's been really interesting seeing how Jazz is just starting to get the idea of contact. She's taking baby steps with little tiny neck curls. It's super weird to think this is the same horse who would lose her entire mind if there was even a teeny tiny little pull on the opposite rein when I tried to turn back when I was very first riding her. Now she's doing cute little tiny neck curls. It was a tough lesson for me, using a lot of riding muscles that were not impressed with me on their sudden work request. I had a very looong hot bath with epsom salts (10/10 would recommend, epsom salts help draw lactic acid from your muscles).
Then, I drug my still sore self to my first Pony Club lesson on Jazz. I've taken other Pony Club lessons, but back before I rode Jazz English, on another horse. Now that we have our trailer, I finally got to go. We also hauled for another girl from my barn who I hadn't met yet, and both her and her horse are really nice. The instructor we have is a local eventing coach who has a great reputation. It was really interesting to work with her, especially learning some more dressage-y approaches to doing things. I personally blame Jen at Wyvern Oaks, and Karen at Bakersfield Dressage for my obsession with the idea of dressage. I learned a lot, and we worked on a bit of w/t/c, and turns on the forehand. I ended up getting a really nice couple of turns on the forehand once the new trainer explained how I needed to adjust to be clearer. Jazz tends to throw her shoulders around a lot, so once she tried moving her shoulder, and then backing up, and then a perfect step. The trainer also had a lot of nice things to say about my horse, such as "nice little mare", and "pretty", and "well balanced", and "she really thinks about things". I always like to hear compliments about my horse. Unfortunately, she also told me my saddle doesn't seem to fit correctly. Sigh. It's been lots of trips to the local consignment shop since then.
The following week I had another lesson with my usual trainer at home, where the main order of the day was spiraling in and out of circles, doing lots of the same work on contact and strengthening her back.
Pony club alternates lesson weeks between flatwork and jumping, so my second Pony Club lesson was jumping week. After a good warmup and some refreshers on my position, we started with work on a trot fence. Jazz has a really short stride, so we did a lot of work on getting her to really engage and get moving forward. Her canter runs at about 8 feet on average, so we also worked on extending her canter to something closer to the 12 feet I will be dealing with at shows someday. Then it got raised to a little baby cross rail, and we went over it a few times, before working our way up to a small grid. It involved trotting over a ground pole, then trotting in and cantering out to a small cross rail, and finally cantering a third fence. I had never actually cantered a fence before, so it was really awesome to get to try it! Jazz was awesome, but my two point is just slightly shy of abysmal, so the instructor gave me some exercises to work on at home to strengthen my muscles and develop more correct muscle memory. The big one was rising canter, working on staying up for multiple strides, and then standing and sitting alternate strides. It's also good for developing better rhythm. I felt much more in control working from a rising canter, and as a nice side note, Jazz picked up the correct lead after the fence every single time, and in all the rides I've had since. What a smart mare!