We are now jumping up to 1m, even over a 1m spread. It feels a lot like soaring. Of course, that is only possible because I have the ability to clamp my legs on, and no longer need to rip his hair out of his neck. Because I'm not flying out of the saddle, Oakley is no longer balking quite the way he used to.
Oh, he still stops in front of a jump he hasn't seen before, that'll be a given for ever. After eight years, he still freezes and tries to avoid and frequently stops, but in a different way. Ever seen a reining horse do that skid on the hind legs? He stops like that, without the dramatic skid.
It's because my legs have developed the strength to hold my entire seat in the saddle, and on Oakley.
My coach, T.H., calls it having the roots of a tree.
An apt analogy, because, just like a tree, I am anchored in the saddle, yet just like a tree, my torso is free to move around, to shift to maintain balance, and even be thrown forward if Oakley, or whatever horse I'm riding, comes to a sudden stop. My upper body folds forward, or gets jerked backward by a sudden take-off, but my legs, they are strong enough to stay where they are, like tree roots.
This means that I can begin to do the release over jumps, which has become increasingly necessary as the height goes up.