Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Not Above Bribery

I'm pretty much over January and its smothering, suffocating January-ness. It's like, "Get out of bed? Why? It's fucking January."

"Shave my legs? You don't get that fucking privilege, January."

And of course, "What fucking blog? JANUARY HAS STOLEN MY BLOG'S FUCKING SOUL."

Basically, there is one thing I give a shit about right now, and that is stuffing my fucking face with food. Fuck anyone with January weight loss ambitions. You know what keeps weight off while you compulsively eat one chocolate chip cookie after another? Nervous twitching about this month never. fucking. ending.

let's face it. when a river like the susquehanna freezes over, it's not a good month.

Alright. Have we all gotten enough profanity for the day? Let's move on. I have actually been riding my horse, and I did take a lesson over the weekend. Plus it's been like 35* for the past few days which is pretty much summer, right?

After last Tuesday's lesson, I did a dressage day and another jump day. The dressage day was fine. At least I don't remember any massive explosions or dramatics, so it must have been fine enough. But the jump day? Horrendous. Bobby was back to square one indoor jumping fuck face shenanigans.

Which is really very frustrating because we don't have these issues in the outdoor. Of course we do also have them at shows, so basically being in the indoor is like being at a show--that is, a complete disaster. Needless to say, I was looking forward to getting some more advice on Sunday.

"i heard we were jumping later. just resting up for best results!"

Well. Bad news.

This is what our future jumping competitions are going to look like:

I'm not even allowed to ride my horse over fences any longer. I am that incompetent.

Ha, no. Just kidding. But Bobby would probably be down with that arrangement. We started off with sending Bobby through a two stride to one stride grid that eventually went up to all cross rails. Every time he went through, he got a cookie until I ran out of cookies, and then he got a handful of grain. Basically, "Look, Bobby! Jumping is so fun!"

Eventually I got on and we went through the grid again with me holding my neck strap and Hubby standing at the end of the line of jumps with more grain. "Look, Bobby! That crazy bitch is on your back, and jumping is still fun!"

I'm not totally convinced he was convinced. I think he was mostly just exhausted from running around for forty minutes first, but here we are:

And this is what we finished with:

We did a single cross rail a couple of times, and he trotted the turn in and picked up the canter to jump it, but it was a quiet canter. Again, though--he was lathered and blowing hard at that point. Running my horse to exhaustion and still having him pick up the canter when presented to a fence isn't exactly what I'm going for.

So I had mixed feelings about the lesson. The problem is I'm not sure what exercises to do to go about getting what I want, so it's hard for me to go into a lesson and be like, This is what I want to work on today. But isn't that kind of the point of paying someone else? To have them help you fix your problems? This is partly why I stopped with lessons before. I know it's a process, but I don't have unlimited funds to not make at least a modicum of discernible progress with every ride. Maybe I'm just being ridiculous here. Maybe it's just January.

on the plus side, the best trail at the barn has finally been cleared.

I did go back out to the barn yesterday to see what I could do on my own. The barn was packed, but fortunately everyone was finishing their rides instead of starting. I pulled Bobby's mane while I waited for the arena to clear, packed my pockets with peppermints, and then set up two cross rails.

His warm up was tense and stiff, but that might be left over from how hard he was worked the day before. I eventually got him plugging along well enough and started jumping. One of the problems we'd identified in the first lesson was that I lose my balance a bit as Bobby turns in for the fence. To combat that, I sat a little deeper in the turn because just leaning my upper body back wasn't doing it. The scooping seat definitely helped.

If he was quiet enough over the jump, I would halt him immediately afterwards and give him a cookie. He never stayed rhythmic enough to keep a consistent pace all the way to and over the jump, but even when he moved up, it was never rude or rushing. He flung his head up a couple of times, but I have to train myself to drop my hands when he does that instead of playing into it and following his fussy face upwards.

I kept the ride short and cookie filled, and I ended feeling like I had a rideable horse who wasn't going to start having an anxiety attack and fling himself in every direction. And upon reflection, that is what I want as my end goal. Bobby is never, ever, ever going to be a hunter horse. I could care less about that. I want a horse that I have control over, and whose brain remains in his head no matter where we're jumping.

why can't we be friends?
"because i hate you."

It wasn't rocket science getting there. It was staying calm, taking lots of breaks, and probably overdoing the praise. I guess I'll stick with that process until we run into another set back--at which point I'll set up a concise plan to take to BO and have her help me with it. Blindly trusting I'm going to get what I want out of a lesson doesn't work for me.


  1. Glad you guys arrived to a happy place after all that! Progress :)

  2. I feel the same way about January. But I think this process is going to work for you guys! Bobby's brain is just so... special. Slowing it down like this really seems to work for him.

  3. I was just having this conversation with myself this morning: "I really don't feel like blogging much right now. Maybe it's because riding without a saddle kind of sucks. Maybe it's because it's January. But everyone else is still blogging somehow. Wait, I haven't heard from Carly in a few days," and somehow I just knew you were feeling the same way and dammit, if I don't want to blog on a particular day, I don't get all revved up about it and that's okay.

  4. So I've always taken regular lessons, but when I go on a break, I feel like my first few lessons back are kind of like a crapshoot until I get back into the routine. So... maybe try letting yourself and Bobby get into the routine of it all again?

  5. So Fiction and Bobby have a lot of the same issues with jumping, I believe. I don't know if this would work with Bobby, but in the past two or so weeks it has done wonders for Fiction - the circle of death with poles and eventually a few 2' verticals placed in it. A huge concentration on counting strides + riding in shoulder-fore. Plus pushing over a pole to get him to use his butt. For once in my life I don't feel out of control on Fiction's back while jumping. I don't know if it would work with you and Bobby, but it might be worth a shot?

  6. Hey, sometimes that's what it takes. Look at me all "WHEEEEEE just doin' w/t transitions for like two months".

    It happens.

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  8. *Oops. Accidently deleted. *
    Hey, I thought shaving your legs was something that stopped with marriage? Is it restricted to only January now? Darnit! ..lol kidding.

  9. ugh january... sorry Bobby is expressing the same misery we all feel by being a jerk... good luck with the new approach tho! fwiw, my mare is kinda hating the indoor rides too - tho her response is to get way backed off rather than running hell for leather..

  10. bribery is basically the same thing as training. save the $ on lessons, buy more cookies. ;]


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