Saturday, December 10, 2011

Better days.

I had a better ride to a degree on Thursday. She wasn't rushing the jumps but she still felt like she was jumping with extra thrust, and I think I've come to the conclusion that it's my stirrup leathers. No matter how hard I jam my heels down and try to have good form, my leg is everywhere and I think it's because they're too long. Every time I punch a new hole it's like it feels right and then I haven't gone up far enough. Victoria's leathers were shorter than mine, and as a result I think it made my leg steadier (thus, my leg wasn't as prone to shift, and thus I wasn't getting left behind).

Despite getting a little left behind (although not quite as bad as Wednesday), my hands have been great with not catching her mouth when we land.

So I was happy that I went back and jumped again and made sure the jumps were good. Our last jump was the best. I was going to make her trot and canter for a few minutes after that and be done, but she started to run through me - you know, the same old ignore the half halts by putting her nose in the air. Ignore my seat. And by this time my muscles were screaming, so it was even harder for me to adjust my posting. Back muscles actually aren't the issue now, it's my leg muscles. I have gotten really bad about my heels and my leg, and now with more focus on them, they're building back up and they just cramp and ache after a certain amount of time.

I made her trot and canter "acceptably" before I let her be done. I tried to work with her on half halts, with just simple collected walk, extended walk, but I couldn't even get her down from extended walk. She just kept jigging and trying to trot off. Rather frustrating. It's not like I couldn't stop her, although when she gets in such moods, nothing but absolutely hanging about 20 pounds in her face brings her down, and she will try to move off the instant she's released. And I feel like that only makes it worse, and I certainly don't want to be that hard in her mouth, but what choice do I have when she's blasting around the arena just short of a gallop, ignoring my half halts and my seat?

We're doing a lesson next week sometime. I'm just giving her two days off (yesterday and today) and doing some light flat work on Sunday with focus on leg yields, half halts and adjusting her speed. Possibly some transitions as well. Major point on keeping the pressure light on her mouth. My two theories on this are, firstly, that when my muscles start to get tired, I ride retarded and I just follow along at whatever speed and she just ends up being "asked" to go faster and faster while my hands tell her no. So I think I need to learn when *I* am the one doing like crap causing her to do like crap. Secondly, until I reestablish half-halt with her, leave her alone when she gets quick, and just use my seat.

I can't remember if I mentioned it in the last post, and I'm too lazy to go look, but I was pretty distraught so I doubt I did...mareface is officially on stall board now. She seems pretty happy with it so far. There's a couple of horses in her new pasture that I think I'm going to have to teach a lesson about my space and my horse's space when I'm leading her (and it's not Dylan, Victoria, haha! Manny and Peter!), but I'm liking it thus far.

Her first night in I fed her. That ear laying and attitude she learned at Avalon and Halcyon didn't happen, and I told Lizzie not to let her try it with her, and if she did to get in her face and not feed her until she relaxed. She's getting a half a solo cup of grain AM and PM right now, and 2 flakes of hay at night. Pretty modest and I'm keeping an eye on her weight to see how I need to adjust it. Her joint supplement should be here soon too.

Riding on Sunday will hopefully be "back to normal".


  1. Ooops, just catching up here. I think my computer cached an old version of your blog and I had to refresh it to get this now.

    Horses that rush the jumps are tricky. What we used to do was endless "circle aways" until the horse settled to a proper pace. The circle needs to be on the smaller side--less than 20 meters--to make the point. Otherwise speed and obedience to the half halts starts to go. Then and only when the horse's pace at relaxation are correct, do you attempt the jump. Might take dozens of circles to get in one fence, but the time and effort will be worth it in the end.

    And, as my one trainer used to note, there was no point in jumping at all until the horse was responsive and obedient on the flat. Going over the fence was not the goal. Doing it right was and sometimes, I'd go out intending to jump and never even go over a crossrail.

    Also setting up a pole one shorter stride after the fence can slow a rushy overjumper by making her have to adjust and slow down to safely get over the ground pole on the landing side.

    I'd also spend a lot of time with trotting poles in front of the jump and trot into the fence so keep better control.

    As for being "hard on her mouth" when she's running away, I always used to say, "If you were heading for a 100' ravine, would you be kind in trying to stop/turn your horse?" Sure, there's no cliff in the arena, but that little pony and child is at least as dangerous, if not more.

    Usually, hauling in a disobedient horse a few times gets the point across and teaches them that running off is not the most comfortable option.

    One more thing. Are you sure Amber's jumping saddle fits well. Sometimes a tree that pinches or presses into the wither can make a horse rush on either side of the fence.

  2. She only rushes when I start to get in her mouth before the fence. Which honestly may be what's screwing her up with half-halts. I automatically half-halt, even when her pace is acceptable. And it screws up her distance.

    That's why it's so frustrating - I *know* it's definitely something I'm doing. And it just reminds me that she's still a little bit of a greenbean and while I can get her being awesome on the flat, I'm a green jumper myself!

    It seems like hauling her in when she's getting too quick and ignoring my aids just upsets her all the more, and while I definitely want to make it clear to her that she can't just run around when she is confused or frustrated about something, it seems like it defeats the purpose.

    Her jumping saddle does fit well and I use a cushy half-pad with it.

    I've pretty much decided that I'm not even going to worry with jumping until I insure this half-halt issue is settled.

    And yet another possibly, the fact that I have been making sure she doesn't have lazy upward transitions. I always bring her back down and I think she may too be over-anticipating for me to ask for an upward transition.

  3. You can help yourself with the urge to use the reins by using trot poles in front of the jump to help your timing. You just need lots of practice with situations that will help you overcome your mistakes.