Monday marked the return of a week of pony land before Bobby gets more unneeded time off. I decided to kick us off with a dressage school to hopefully set the foundation for basic things like control and...you know, control.
Bobby picked up the trot pretty strung out and disorganized, so I put him on a circle and made him do lots of short transitions between all three gaits. Just as we began, one of the dad's that had dropped his daughter off for camp come over to the gate to watch with his other daughter. Bobby was like, "Adoring fans!" and turned in some really relaxed but sharp transitions. If only he could carry that mentality over to shows. Adoring fans turn into potential horse-beaters. Or something. Dick.
He put in two really nice flying changes in each direction, and then got a bit flustered when I asked him to do a counter canter serpentine. I ran him through it at the trot which settled him and he got it the next time through at the canter. Must do more counter canter work!
I thought I might finish with some stretchy trot work, and asked him to start stretching down at the walk. He actually did pretty well at the walk, but he is so incapable of carrying it over at the trot. This horse just doesn't like to stretch down. He'll stretch out all day long--to charge you with his unicorn horn, I guess--but even walking on a loose rein after working, he won't stretch down unless actively being asked. When your withers are confused with a skyscraper and your neck naturally juts out a thousand miles above them, stretching down is not your cup of tea. Which really sucks, by the way.
I gave up on that since it was just making me frustrated and we were accomplishing nothing, and I asked him finish back on the circle at the trot. At that point he was pissed at me and decided he didn't know what my outside rein or leg were. He alternated between leaning, pulling, ignoring, or being heavy in general--almost all of this done against my left side where I have a bum knee and bum shoulder. I was exhausted trying to correct him, and it didn't help that I'd wallop him with my legs and he wouldn't acknowledge me.
I finally got him over-bent at the walk so that when I asked him to trot, I was able to soften and had him right where I wanted him. I made sure to tell him how brilliant he was with every stride and he relaxed enough to do one really nice circle. I turned him loose across the diagonal and since he was using himself for realz, he covered the distance in about two strides. Srsly.
We haven't jumped since our show a little more than two weeks ago, which at this point seems about par for the course, so I trekked up to the outdoor to set up fences. The arena had been dragged yesterday and then got rained on so it was awesome footing, but all the standards and poles were on the other side of the fence. I was sweating my bum off throwing everything over and ended up with only a 3' vertical on the diagonal and a 3 stride line with a 2'6 vertical and a 2'9 oxer.
Bobby was hunting around for jumps as I cantered him in circles around the arena. I took that as a good sign and turned him off the rail to the 2'6 vertical in the line to jump it from an angle. No big, he's done that before.
Oh, jeeze. We almost died.
I didn't give him a good approach to it, but he didn't seem concerned. However, as we got closer, I saw how close to the standard we were (aka, I was about to be on top of it) and we both quit. Then Bobby was all, "No, we always jump the fences! It's not like this lady knows what she's doing anyway." And it wasn't like a "stopnogo!" moment. It was a "Aaaand stop at the jump. Hmm. Maybe I should jump it after all. Yep. Definitely should. Here we go!"
He went straight up with his chest practically touching the rail of the jump, brought his front legs over, thought better of trying to heave both me and his end over from a complete standstill and brought his front end down right on top of the jump. He got tangled in the pole, and brought pole and standards and us down in one fell swoop. My feet were literally flat against the ground. I was like O.O and he was like O.o before standing up and stepping out of the mess.
I got off to make sure neither one of us had died, wiped the dirt off of Bobby's face and ears (I don't even know), and reset the jump as an X, making sure to tell him he was a good boy even though I was thinking what a dumb boy he was.
There's a fine line between having an honest horse, and having a dumb horse. I appreciate that Bobby has this mindset that he must always make it to the other side. However, we're going to get to a cross country fence one of these days that's going to result in a hung leg and a serious accident. It's like, do I teach my horse to stop in front of jumps? That seems counterproductive, but dying isn't exactly appealing either.
After that, things went smoothly, although let's be honest--we could only go up from there (no pun intended). I put him on a circle over the X, changed direction and did the line in a forward two instead of the measured three (whatev, Bobby), and got the perfect distance to the vertical on the diagonal every time. We finished with the line to a tight rollback to the single vertical twice.
Tomorrow is a trail ride that will possibly be kicked off with a longe in side reins. We've got a lot of work to shove into one week, despite seeming like being unprepared is what we're all about.