Monday Video: Reflecting on a Jumping Round with Michael Pollard

It’s been a hot minute since five-star eventer and 2011 Pan Am gold medalist Michael Pollard has jumped the big twigs, but it’s a delight to see him out schooling Carl Bouckaert‘s “Eton” and even more of a delight that he’s shared an analysis of one of his rounds. I think I’m preaching to the choir here so I’ll refrain from going on and on about the benefits of reviewing video footage of your own riding, but Michael has given us a great example here of how to self-critique.

Prior to this video Michael and Eton had jumped a Mini Prix as their first round and Michael has reviewed the video of that round and planned to make some changes for this second round. Read through Michael’s commentary below and then watch the video above, or pause the video while you read!

He writes:

“After reviewing my first round, I thought I needed to get back into the saddle earlier, and shorten the reins a bit to put things back together after the jumps. I prefer a lighter half seat normally, but Eton generally jumps better with his hind legs if you are closer to the saddle. My lighter thoroughbred types wouldn’t have been as happy with that, so it feels a bit foreign to me still.

“I started this round with those changes in mind. The first and third jumps were vertical fences-I rode both off the turn sitting. I was worried I’d eat too much ground on the related distance after each, so I waited for a closer distance to make him land shallow. I was attempting to put him in a place where I could move forward to the oxers in each line. The plan worked out well in each case, but I’d have liked the verticals to be more fluid. I think I could have come with a bit more pace and stayed out on the turns a touch to improve those lines.

The line from 3 to 4 was smooth., and I wanted to get him back prior to the turn to 5 which he obliged. I was able to put him together well in the turn to the double, so I rode forward and had a nice ride there. That allowed me to hold a bit and stay straight to the oxer out…I was happy with that as well. I always tell my students to stay focused on the first rail of the first fence in a line because that’s the only one that matters, and that looking down the line guarantees a bad distance to that crucial first fence. So…I had to tell myself the same thing. It still works;)

“I let him get a little low around the turn after 7, but I was able to use the turn to prepare decently for the vertical. I did not do a good enough job shaping that turn so I landed on left lead after 8.
The line to 9 was barely bent so I held the left lead and was still able to go forward into the combination…nice to ride a really good jumper because that wasn’t perfect on my part.

“I was a little disheveled and not as accurate as I’d have liked at 10, but he still jumped well. I was able to get him back pretty nicely for both 11 and 12 but I probably over corrected the shaping of the jump at 11 because I shouldn’t have moved that much over the jump.

“All in all I was really pleased with Eton(obviously, because he’s awesome)… I stuck to my plan as well, and despite being a little tight in a couple places in the beginning I was happy that I rode a bit better than the previous round.

“So…things to improve, but pleased:)”

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