Saturday, June 18, 2011

When you've got it, don't push it!

Had yesterday afternoon off of work, and of course, raced down to the barn. Moon needed his flu shot anyway, so it was the perfect excuse.

Feeling a little eager, I set up some jumps in the ring and my video camera (I'll post later) before I went to get him, complete with a small cross rail, a 1'6" vertical and a 1'9" vertical. We've never jumper more then a 12' vertical, and I thought, what the heck. Oh, and a little cavaletti at 6".

He was a total jerk when I went to catch him, bolting off like crazy whenever I started towards him. Granted, when I walked into the paddock, he was WAY at the back and came FLYING across the grass at mach 10. He really does move fast when he wants. Anyway, after a very loud and firm "WHOA", he finally stopped moving and haltered up.

I threw on his front boots for the heck of it, since I was planning on jumping anyway. Out in the ring, he gave me his usual refusal to stand nicely at the mounting block, and I tried backing him whenever he moved. Yeah, totally didn't work. Finally after returning him over and over to the same spot, he stood until the last second when I swung over. Fine. It's an improvement, and I'm tired of getting pissy about it and ruining a good ride.

Our warm-up started poorly, the lifting the reins high and turning him not working at all. He had zero flexibility in his poll, and we just turned circles. Moving on.

Next we moved on to our circles or "hexagons", trying to move in little lines on a circle. It started out kinda crappy at first, but after awhile, I really felt like we were improving. Maybe we weren't as long and low as needed, but I started to feel like I had a much more responsive horse then I had before we started with Coach W. His trot, even in the crazy wind, stayed in rhythm and was just at a great tempo. I even was able to almost get an extended walk out of him, where before we lacked these intermediate paces. Even his transitions are much improved, and we're starting to get a nice halt with minimal rein contact, using my seat more then anything.

We probably did trot circles in both directions for a good 40 minutes, and then I put him over a cavelletti. Remember the little 6" one?

Yeah, he knocked it over!

Retry. Then cross rail, lovely. A little waiver at first, but he's so honest he'll pop over anything. We tried the 1'6" and he knocked it over, hesitating before he left the ground. Watching the video, I can see that he's jumping too far away from the jump often, meaning he has a LONG way to go, and ends up jumping very flat. I think I need to place a marking pole for him, and drive him more to it.

I put the knocked pole back up and we continued on, doing some more trot circles. We did get one amazing canter transition that I wasn't intentionally asking for (though my actions did ask for it), and it was lovely. He came back down quickly, but I'm still wishing I had ridden it, just to see.

Another go around the course, and this time we aced the 1'6" but knocked the 1'9". Again, he was waivering to it, and when I finally did push him, we were much to close for him to get his knees up and over it. My bad. I'm still pretty new to training a horse to jump, and it sure is different from schooling a horse that's done it plenty before.

Reset my course, couple more trot circles, and then we popped over that 1'9" like it was nothing. On the playback, he might need to even up his knees, and I know my leg slips back, but we had a nice crest release, I didn't pop him in the mouth and it was pretty smooth all in all.

I was so proud of him, both of us now sweating in the summer heat. Lots of pats, and then I decided, "Hey, he's done sooo well today, I should take him for a canter in the field".

Big mistake.

My first clue should have been when I was standing in the paddock (where all of his friends are chowing down on hay), and looked down to adjust my stirrup. I felt this weight in my reins, and when I looked up, Moon was standing there, his bridle and fly veil no longer on his head, but rather draped over his neck and lying on the ground in front of him.

I had a moment of panic, as if he moved, he'd EASILY get caught in the tangle of reins and bridle lying in front of him. And since the bit was no longer in his mouth, I also had little way of stopping him.

Jumped down, and for the life of me, have no idea how he got it off. Other then being uber sweaty, and likely rubbing it off on his leg? I certainly couldn't get it back on him without undoing the throat latch...

THAT should have been my hint that he was done working, but I pushed him anyway. He was resistant the whole walk out to the field, trying to turn around, evading the bit, mouth wide open, and even giving me a half-hearted buck or two when I asked for a canter.

Frustrated in myself, realising I probably undid all of our work in some silly attempt to canter him, I tried to regain the lesson by doing nice long and low walk work with good contact. Nope. He wasn't having any of that. Another 15 minutes probably went by where I was trying to get him to soften, and I got nearly no where.

Finally, after the poorest of poor stretching out from him, I called it a day and took him in. GER! It would have been absolutely fabulous of a training day if I had just accept it, and not tried to do more. I mean, it had been an hour at least already, he was beyond sweaty, and it was really hot out. I'm such a jerk and totally deserved that crappy ending. Moon's Lesson of the Day for the Human: After a really good ride, accept it, be greatful for it, and end it.

Sorry bud, guess I have some schooling of my own.

I did give him his second bath, and while he's not loving it, he's well behaved. I can't imagine it not feeling wonderful to have cool water on you when you're sweaty, and he certainly loved the roll afterwards!

Oh well. I'll school him again later, and hopefully I figure out when to call it quits next time! Happy weekend all!

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