Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jumping not-so-scary scary things

Determined to have my ponies not balk at something as totally retarded as a stone wall again (even though Red HAS jumped one of them before. And not just once, but many times. Grrrrrr.), I set up what I thought were several very looky-type jumps in the arena.


From the least scariest (at least from what I thought): a 2'7 vertical with cones underneath and a roping dummy cow staring down the ponies; a 2'3 vertical with a piece of plywood in front of it to make it completely solid, and also making it more narrow; 3 barrels on their sides held in places with poles, but without standards on the sides; and a baby liverpool made out of a tarp and another piece of plywood.

Red was my first guinea pig. He we totally unimpressed with everything. He's been through the torture of the tarp routine before--jumping them, trotting and cantering over them, and having them flap around him. The tarp was inconsequential. As were the barrels which he's also done many, many times before. Put them together though, and we got into a couple of stickies that needed to be worked out. First, he kept trying to jump INTO the liverpool, even though it was around two and a half feet wide. That kept knocking the back rail outwards. So, after getting off a couple of times to set it back in place, I cantered him up to it and gave him a solid crack and he got the idea and jumped it the rest of the time. It was one stride to the barrels, and he tried to run out on them several times. After all, standards mean you have to jump what lies between, so if there are no standards you must not have to jump them. I think not, Red Pony. Another solid crack fixed that one right quick and he went over it several times like a good boy.

The other two jumps were uncomplicated, though he did give the solid fence a long look before popping over nicely. I went over all of them in various sequences as a mini course, and Red was perfect every time. He even worked up a little bit of a sweat this time.

Bobby was next. I started with the barrels and liverpool again. When I walked him up to the liverpool the first time, he sidestepped away from it, but finally gave it a sniff, then stomped it into oblivion. Satisfied it was dead, it didn't bother him again. Bobby's view on all things potentially scary: If you kill them, they can't kill you. He stomps rather forcefully on all foreign objects instead of shying from them. He'd be a good dragon slayer. He had the same run-out on the barrels issue as Red, but he took a little longer to straighten out. He would jump, but he wasn't really jumping over them; he was more just jumping. I finally got him into a good, strong canter, gave him just leg over the liverpool, then a smack and a tug on the outside rein and he went over the last couple times decently.

I got brave and sent him to the solid wall next. He didn't even hesitate. It was by far the best jump he's EVER done. I think my big pony might just be a cross country machine yet. Hopefully those solids fences will teach him that his little toes must come UP when he jumps. He got a huge "GOOD BOY!!!!!!" after that and we went over a couple more times with similar success.

Riding high on that, I got even more brave and sent him to the 2'7 vertical. He responded to my leg....a little too well. He left out an entire stride, jump into the fence, caught the pole between his legs, and brought it with us for a couple of canter strides after. I pulled him up right quick, and we both looked back like, "WTH just happened?!" I rode him in a little deeper and made sure he jumped at a spot of my choosing, and even though he knocked it down again, it was just a rub that brought it down and he was actually pretty careful. I left that fence alone with a big pat because even though it came down, he did what he asked and he tried really hard. I finished the ride with one more time over the solid wall, then gave him a bath. I don't think he thought it was as much of a reward as I did.....

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