Monday, October 27, 2014

I can't live with or without you

Or really, I just can't live without you. And of course I'm referring to my whip.

Earlier readers may remember that Bobby used to be petrified of whips. One time he saw someone else's dressage whip leaning against the trunk of their car when we were walking back up to the barn and he had a full on meltdown right there in the parking lot. Was anyone using it on another horse? Were they even holding it? Were they threatening his body with it? 



But I did sooooooooooo much desensitizing work with my jumping bat that he eventually let me ride around with one. That led to being able to tap him with it when needed without him flying into orbit.

this is him throwing a fit about not wanting to jump a fence we now OWN,
but a pretty fair example of a bobby tantrum. oh, green horsie. i do not miss you.
Now I carry a whip every time a jump, and I usually bring out my dressage whip in case I need it for a little lateral encouragement or what not. He is absolutely fine with both scenarios. 

However, now I've gotten a little too dependent on it. I would characterize Bobby as a naturally lazy horse. He's not sharp off the aids; he doesn't leap into action when you close your leg. 

what bobby would spend his entire life doing if given the choice

I ride in spurs every time and that's worked best for both of us. I don't have to nag him (as much), and he actually moves when requested. So what the fuck is all this leading to? Well, I forgot my whip in my locker when I went to jump today and we almost died. Or, at least, we almost landed in the middle of a sizable oxer.

Bobby had a lovely, boring flat ride over the weekend where I tried out Red's old dresage bit--a plain old copper mouth egg butt. I was actually digging around in my tack trunk to try to find Red's cob-sized headstall so I could put the hackamore back on that (Bobby has gone pretty much all month in the hackamore, but in a different headstall that doesn't go up high enough for the hack to sit right), but instead I grabbed the bit.


He went alright in it for both the flat ride and today's jumping. I'm still trying to find a bit I love as much as the Happy Mouth. Maybe he'll like the Happy Mouth again after how much time he's had away from it. Stupid bits. Why can't we show dressage in hackamores?

Right, but anyway. That doesn't really have anything to do with jumping, or the lack of whip incident. 

I stole made us of one of the courses from a previous Bay with Chrome post.

i'm also stealing making use of her graphic. thank you! ;)

Our barn is hard to set up a full course on because we split the jumps between the indoor and outdoor. However, enough have migrated up to the outdoor this summer that I was able to do every oxer. I just had to use barrels to make on super ghetto. No bigs. 

Everything was between 2'6" and 3', and I thought the course looked pretty easy. Then I walked it on horse back as we were warming up. To get from 4 to 5, you have to do a crazy roll back, and then from the landing of 5, you have to angle way out to the left to make the turn for 6. At least, the way I had the jumps set was how that rode. Tricky, but turns out totally fun. 

Warmed the pony up on the flat and over jumps 1 and 6 a few times before coming off the rail to the 3' oxer at 2. I saw a spot. It was a good spot. It was a one hundred percent doable spot. If I'd had my whip in my hand, I would have tapped Bobby on the shoulder and asked him to take it, and he would have. We've reached that point in our jumping relationship where he responds without question to that cue for good or bad.

But I didn't have my whip, and Bobby didn't take the spot. He threw in an extra stride and ended up chest against the front rail of the oxer.....and then decided to jump anyway.

Now, we've run into this problem before. Bobby's lack of self preservation is questionable at times, and I really, really wish he'd be a normal horse and run-out or stop when we get into situations like this. Instead, he launched skyward and deer leaped that mother fucker without brushing the rails. If I had wet myself it would have been totally founded.

"i don't know what you're talking about. i never make bad choices."

We regrouped and I immediately came back around to it. Again, he chose to chip, though far less dramatically this time. After landing, I dug my spurs into him all the way to the fence and made his chippy ass gallop up to it. We did not have a problem after that. I know, I know. He should respond to a closed leg and some urging from the seat. He should listen better without needing the artificial aid of a whip. But life is so much easier with it.

The rest of the jumping was pretty uneventful. It was the first time we've done any course work since our last show back in September which means uneventful is a good thing. I'm battling a cold and I don't do well with strenuous activity in any sort of cold weather, so I kept having to stop to catch my breath and wipe my leaking face (super attractive).

Bobby responded to the constant breaks by building his excitement levels, and by the time we actually strung the full course together he was kind of a rage monster. That meant I had to do crazy things like sit up and half halt, but guess what? I DID THEM. There's a first time for everything.

As one last aside, please vote for Bobby in Jodi's contest! You wouldn't want his suffering to go to waste, would you?


  1. yikes - Bobby, ya gotta be careful buddy!! glad the rest of the school went better tho, and uneventful is definitely nice

  2. See, I was all "RIDE IN SPURS GIT 'ER DONE" and then Courage got nasty ass spur rubs and now I'm back to spurless. It is challenging to keep an equal level of responsiveness with blunter aids.

    1. I have to use special pads with spur gaurds on Cosmo. He is LAZY without spurs, but gets rubs with them (even with my tiny roller spurs). The spur guards are not cute but they work. Spurs over cloth is still more effective than no spurs. Smartpak sells the pads for about $30, but I am working on adapting some of my regular pads to add the guards.

  3. Oh boy, it's the deer leap that'll get you. I've never experienced one until the hunter pace and I'd rather not do THAT again haha. At least you made it through!

  4. Ack! Good to work on occasionally though, in case you drop a whip during a stadium round or something

  5. I have the U2 song in my head after reading the title! Bobby is just making sure you're on your game, and you are :)

  6. Oh how I envy you. Having to use more than a seat aid to canter is my life-long dream with Rom. :P

  7. I think you should feel no shame for needing to use the whip! Carry a frying pan if that's what you need to get his attention. Lack of self preservation is the #2 scariest thing on my list. (#1 is not caring about what happens to the rider/handler, and Bobby doesn't seem to have that problem.)

  8. I'm glad you got to try out one of the courses! And also that those weird turns were kind of fun :) (And I've been there with the deer-hopping an oxer. Oy.)


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