|comfy but kind of ugly: also a good description of my horse.|
I'm finally going to get around to last week's training ride from BM, and all that unfolded after it. It basically amounts to me never wanting to jump my horse ever again because I am one hundred percent sure I'm going to have a giant crash and die, and Bobby is one hundred percent in agreement with this and is willing to help facilitate it however he can. It's a long story.
Actually, no it's not. That is the story.
But first, some BM wisdom!
For a jumping horse, BM is less worried about how far his nose is poking out and more concerned with lifting the entire front half. I need to stop riding him like a dressage horse and "start riding him like a hunter". Basically, don't micromanage him. He can't see the jump if his head is tucked in.
She brought this up right away because I'd done my homework on the flat so well from the last time she was on him that he was too light for what she wanted. "Hands up, head up. Let him see what's in front of him."
|but we are so good at the dressage|
I was able to put this to practice in my ride yesterday, and I got exactly what she was looking for. His tan mule nose was poked out, his neck was long and up, and that lift carried all the way through his shoulders, made easy by how well he was sitting on his bum. It was a fucking awesome jumping horse canter.
BM is actually pretty much in love with Bobby's canter, so you're welcome, BM, for me being the one to suffer through Trainer's yelling and torture (which I loved, let's be honest) to make it so enjoyable. I've gotten "This is a nice horse! I really like him!" and "I wish all my Thoroughbreds cantered like this." To which I reply, "He's for sale, BM. Hint, hint."
We set up a course for him this time around, so while it was all fun and games playing with his flat work during warm up, he is Bobby, and BM started to break down the bad things once the jumps were introduced.
He started getting antsy anticipating doing his changes whenever she came across the diagonal, so BM suggested no more changes while jumping. He's confirmed in them, we know they're there, don't give him something else to get wound up about when jumping. He's got enough mental issues to focus on.
|he leads such a stressful life, it's no wonder he's such a nutcase.|
She also kept preaching the most basic fundamental when jumping: Leg. If you don't know what you're going to do coming up to a jump, if you do nothing else, add leg! He turns the corner and sees a jump halfway across the ring? Add leg in that corner and keep adding it. Dropping him in front of the fence and hoping he gets us to the other side is not helpful in any way, shape, or form. He also, of course, needs to differentiate between leg meaning lengthen the stride and not just GO FAST.
This really came to light when she came down the six stride line. He just bulled through the first jump without paying any attention to it to get to the second jump. Lengthening to get the distance is fine, racing SO FAST is not. She told me to do lots of turning out of lines and splitting the jumps so that we only did one off a circle without ever coming into the line.
She also suggested riding as close to the fences as possible, circling around them and whatnot, while flatting so he doesn't think every time he gets near a jump he gets to jump it.
And finally, "This horse can't see a distance to save his life. He comes to the jump and he's just like, 'There's a fence. I'm supposed to jump it. Go fast. I have four legs. I'm a dark bay. My name is Bobby.' Anything but looking for a distance." Um, yes. Bobby is a nutshell.
Overall she got him working pretty sanely, and when she was done, she had me get on him to trot a 2' vertical a few times to have me get the feel of getting his head up and his eye on the jump. It was...not great. He slammed to a stop once right off the bat which rattled me, and no amount of, "Leg, leg, leg, LEGGGGG" from BM was actually making me put my leg on. Instead, I'd freeze up and grab either mane or my neck strap, and Bobby would take over and do whatever he wanted, which was basically just run at the jump.
BM told me to stop going to the neck strap when I got scared. I've basically taught Bobby that when I grab it I'm anxious, and then he gets anxious, and everything instantly falls apart. Part of this stems from be being afraid I'm going to hit him in the mouth and get him pissed at me. To which BM said, "Well, stop. You're not going to catch him in the mouth. You're a good rider with a good base of support. Sit up, lean back, and slip the reins if you have to."
That's all well and good so long as curl into the fetal position and pray you make it safely to the other side isn't your current go-to.
|freshly clipped and braided, and looking for cookies.|
The truth is that Bobby has slowly chiseled away at all my confidence over the past year, and my crash two weeks ago firmly solidified in my mind that bad things happen when jumping Bobby. I am scared shitless to jump this horse right now. An eighteen inch vertical--essentially a raised ground pole--is cause for a serious freak out. And it's not just when I'm in the saddle. When BM was jumping him, she came around to a 2'6" oxer, and I was sitting on the mounting block having an anxiety attack about him throwing on the brakes and crashing into the jump. He didn't, of course. He went right over.
Yes, I know this is not a good relationship to have with your horse. Guess what? He's for sale! Someone buy him instead of just telling me to sell him! And in the meantime?
"Find a packer to jump things with to rebuild your confidence!" Check. BM has offered to let me lope over as many tiny jumps as I need on her giant, saintly TB when I get the chance.
"Have someone with more experience jump Bobby in the meantime!" Check. BM will be doing all the jumping on him from now on unless I'm feeling very brave and ballsy and like I've jumped 4'+ on him before, which I have, and easily, and without being a total fucking chicken.
"Do fun things with him that will boost your confidence!" Check. This horse is really good at dressage when not randomly pitching fits, and he's been agreeable to letting me access all his buttons and some new ones lately. The jumping with BM will be good to keep his brain happy, and I'll enjoy his fancy flat work,
"Look at all possible health and tack problems!" Check. He's been on Magnesium for almost two weeks now, and it might be contributing to his overall pleasant demeanor on the flat. BM also hiked my jump saddle up a good six inches further onto his shoulders, and said she felt an instant difference to the freedom in his trot.
So. We will proceed with the game plan for now. I always appreciate reader feed back, but on this one, I feel mentally shitty enough all on my own. It's a good plan. We're making progress. I'll either jump him again or I won't. He'll either sell or he won't. It's January. We can do whatever we want right now, and I'll try to come to grips with currently feeling like a complete fucking loser instead of a total bad ass. This too shall pass.
|that one time we jumped a prelim skinny because we were brave and ballsy.|