But before all this, I played around with the jumps that were set up super low (about 2'). We worked on jumping at an angle which he has never done before. He clobbered the rail the first couple of times, but once he figured out where to take off from, he had it under his belt.
I tried taking him through the line, but the striding wasn't even sort of measured out (not my doing this time!), and I really don't like jumping lines in the indoor anyway. Instead, Hubby raised the green vertical up to 2'6 for us to fool around with.
Enter Drama Llama. Again. Didn't we all miss him?
We'd come around the corner, turn in towards the jump, he'd swap leads behind, suck back, I'd add leg, he'd take that as his cue to run, and he'd bolt the last stride nearly running into the fence, and we'd bring down the rail because jumping from on top of the jump does not work well. Rinse and repeat. Needless to say, this formula was not getting us anywhere. Of course, being the micro-managing, tunnel vision, easily pissed rider that I am (awesome combination for the type of horse Bobby is, by the way. /sarcasm), I wasn't able to process any of this as we were going through it. I finally stopped and asked Hubby if he could see what the fuck was going on.
Hubby: Well, you're throwing your hands forward as soon as you make the turn, and when you do that he goes faster. You need to hold your hands still.
Me: But he's sucking back so badly around the corner, I have to get him moving more forward.
Hubby: ....okay....Maybe that's what you should be focusing on. Keep the pace through your turn, but don't chuck your hands at his face. Here's a whip. Ass hat.
That Hubby. He sure is a good one!
Hubby knocked the jump down to a ground pole and Bobby and I went back to work. At the walk.
After we walked over it nearly a dozen times (more for a mental Bobby break than anything), we trotted over it. He immediately put the theatrics back on and tried running and jumping over it, so I buried my hands in his neck and counted "one-two one-two" out loud as we went around. That helped both of us work in a rhythm and we were able to switch directions and try again.
From the left, we were able to work on cantering over the pole, focusing on Hubby's advice and not moving my hands an inch while keeping my leg on. Not surprisingly, that worked out swimmingly and we had a very quiet go-round.
Then we switched back to the right and, after walking on a long rein for a few laps to decompress again, we picked up the canter. Here is where the whip came in handy. I bridged my reins, used my wrist to taptaptap him on the shoulder with the whip, and drove him forward with my seat. His head was in my face, his mouth was wide open, and I was riding him like I was humping Joe Flacco (Er, did that secret fantasy just slip out?), but dammit--we stayed in rhythm and cantered over without jumping it or bolting it. Win.
We finished with a quiet, rhythmic canter over an 18" vertical both ways.
Upon reflection, here's a summary of the problems (Of course that's plural! You guys have been around long enough to know that!) that led to all of this:
- Not keeping my leg on made him lose the rhythm as we made our turn. He fell out of balance and sucked back, anticipating having to run at the fence to make the distance. I played right into this by...
- Giving away all my contact and chasing him into the jump when I should have been focused on maintaining our pace all the way around.
- Bobby has closed the chapter on flying changes. He knows them. They're far from perfect, but he understands the cue and will now respond instantly. As I've mentioned in the past, once Bobby knows something, drop it!!!! He gets extremely flustered and anxious when he gets drilled on something. What does this have to do with this exercise? I was very unbalanced myself making that turn and was inadvertantly letting my leg slip back and bump him in the side. Cue flying change. Only Bobby has developed some sense of self preservation and understood he couldn't make the turn and be expected to jump off the wrong lead. So he only switched behind which, of course, unbalanced both of us even more.
- For whatever reason, I could not keep my upper body back tracking right yesterday. If I wasn't sitting in my saddle, I was tipped forward onto his neck. Not sure where that came from. It wasn't awesome.
Nothing like a little lesson in humility and humbleness to ring in a new year. Maybe it's secretly a way to kick things off right. Better basics, better foundation, more ass kicking.
Now here are some pictures of my puppies over the weekend so you can depart with happy thoughts.