Regardless of how long we have been involved with horses we always are learning lessons or getting a reminder of things we should have known. My horse has really given me a reminder in following my gut and not being in a hurry. I bought him as a 3 yr and he was well started with a bit of w/t/c but seemed to have some fear of contact. I broke my wrist the day after I bought him and was laid up all winter. I decided to send him off to a sales barn to get sold and that didn’t go well. He came back mentally and physically out of sorts with more issues than he left with.
I should have known better because he was an extremely sensitive horse that didn’t do well under intense pressure and I think that is what might have happened. For the past 2 years, I have been slowly bringing him along and showing him that everything can be alright. He is a horse that is sensitive but trust you so much to give him the right ride and do right by him. Don’t even think if hitting him with your stick or giving him a big kick unless you want a dose of humble pie 🙂 I went back to the very basics teaching him to trust the contact, leg won’t kill him, noises aren’t that scary and we can jump scary things the first time without jumping like a deer. I think some people thought I should give up on him because he didn’t show good jumping form and he lacked confidence so eventing would never be his thing. My gut told me he was a good mover, very soft in the bridle, great mouth, super off the leg, scopey (although not the most technically correct jumper) athletic, smart and willing. He simply hadn’t had a shot to develop into a good horse.
I have gotten very good help from Mogie who is excellent at thinking outside the box for unconventional horses. She reassured me he was a nice horse and that I could fix him which is what I needed to hear. I had to prove to him that I would not punish him or ask him to do more than he was capable of doing. He tested my patience and my knowledge along the way simply because he was so different and I wasn’t sure if I was doing things right.
His main issue was that he just wasn’t confident so I worked really hard on introducing concepts slowly until he understood exactly what I wanted. He began to really find trust in me and we were able to expand our boundaries. I added in a bunch of trail riding teaching him to think for himself and also foxhunting which was a huge deal for him. I kept introducing new jumps but keeping it simple and not asking for to much.
With my greenies, the rule is that you keep the jumps low enough that you can pop over from the walk if needed. This teaches them they can jump and no refusing! I am pretty good at making them go even from a stop as long as it is safe to do so. I believe that you teach them they CAN do it and they they start believing. It makes for some really ugly fences though! I know Lucinda Green is all about walking jumping and don’t be afraid to get a bit ugly and let the horse sort it out but geez walk jumping is way harder than it sounds. Looks a bit like this on one that really doesn’t want to go and then jumps sideways and twists in the air 🙂
When we weren’t jumping from the walk we were doing some sort of canter that resembled a backwards run. He is cantering down going OMG…OMG…OMG and I am sitting back saying you can do it..you can do it kicking him as his brain is thinking. We always made it over but there was a lot of this from him slowing down and then sprawling over at the last minute
The funny thing he was totally confident with water, drops and ditches unlike some other horses I have had so that gave me a lot of hope. No matter what the question was he was always trying to hard to figure it out which is half the battle!
Last season, we had a lot of good outings at local shows and finished up in the top 4 at our last two BN’s going clean both times with good dressage scores. I was so happy at how he was progressing. He had finally turned into a horse that other people could ride with success. I knew we were coming along when I saw the stadium course at his last BN. It was a lovely course but every single jump had something under it and it was an eyeful. You started off with a single, then a one stride down the line to a cow jump (cow decorations with black and white barrels) and then around to some other scary stuff. I took one look at the cow jump and thought if I made it past there we are golden and although he was very backed off he kept going and we had a nice course. Cool cow jump
Over the winter, we lost a lot of training time but were still getting out to a lesson here and there, trail rides, some foxhunting and just general easy work. I thought that he would have forgotten everything he knew about jumping because he hadn’t seen many fences since last fall.
The nice thing about a horse that has mileage is that you don’t have to start over after a long break and suprisingly enough sometimes they even get better which has proved to be the case with him. I would show up to a jumping lesson and he had it all figured out. Amazing! Last weekend, I took him x-c and he probably hadn’t jumped in 2-3 months but I knew he was going to be okay.
The last course we had jumped was an event at Carousel at BN and he went clean but still wanted to slow down and look at everything. Imagine my suprise, when we headed to the first fence this weekend and he totally locked on and took me to it. Now wait…Charlie doesn’t take me to fences especially the first fence on course. What the heck??? Apparently, he has really grown up because he proceeded to jump anything I put him at on a soft loopy rein, lovely canter, totally soft in the bridle, sharp off the leg and super confident. He was much better with his jumping form and using his body much better. We did all sorts of jumps that he gave the hairy eyeball to last year and some new questions such as a bigger drop in the water, the training ditch to the ramp, the big drop down, the ugly mushroom jump, the big house and bench and much more.
He was supposed to be for sale last year and this year but I haven’t gotten around to putting the ads up 🙂 I have this little issue called finally having one horse in the barn that isn’t dead green and having so much fun that I don’t feel like selling. I keep promising my husband that I just need to put some more mileage on him and then I will advertise him..sounds good right?
His form over the fences is not stellar but he is plenty scopey and athletic..trust me on that one! The bigger the fence the better he jumps and he can save your bacon which is what really counts. I really enjoy the process of making a horse shine and he has been a fun project. It is just my personal opinion that he won’t only go clean but he is going to be in the top of the ribbons. He is very consistent on the flat and quite a nice picture when things are going right. He has a great canter and a better gallop. He always wants to please which I really appreciate in a horse and he has the best personality. He loves people and I am glad I was able to gain his trust again.
He has been a great reminder to me that some horses just need more time and if you do it the right way it can really pay off in the long run. There is nothing better than sitting on a horse who has totally figured out the questions and is eager to get the job done. I came off our x-c schooling on cloud nice and really excited about my horse. I was proud of him and happy that my position finally looked better in the pictures 🙂 Amazing how easy it is to ride well when they finally start going well.
Can’t wait for x-c schooling on Saturday!!!!