Horse Life

The Best Laid Plans

Headed to Trainer B’s yesterday. I warmed P up, he was great, then Trainer B comes out and asks if I had something specific I wanted to work on, or if I just wanted to build on last week.

Yeah. I want P to stop stopping. Can ya do that for me?


I told him about XC schooling because really it was still bothering me. Typically when P stops at the base of a fence it’s because I screwed up. But there are far more times when P stops many strides away and has to basically inspect the jump before he’ll pop over. It’s not enough to just trot up, he’ll still stop and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Not even if you’re Tim Bourke.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

So anyway, I explained that whenever we approached a jump, any jump really, at any given moment I’m only about 35% sure P will jump it. So it’s always a surprise- a pleasant one, of course- if he does jump a jump. And I’m tired of it. We’ll go stretches of time with no issues, then it’s just out of nowhere- he stops.

He’s not being bad, he’s not doing it to get me off…the horse is truly just very cautious and wants to make sure it’s not going to attack him. I get that, but at some point you’ve got to realize I’m not about to point us at a ring of fire or something with a legit troll underneath.


I also explained that he has the highest stopping rate funny looking jumps, but we board at a HJ barn where literally everything is white- white standards, white poles, white gates…the most creative it gets is some flower boxes. So when we get out and there are stone walls, funky fillers, etc…he’s got to take a look.

Trainer B said there are basically 2 ways to approach it: 1) With the rider; and 2) From the ground. Of course from the ground is safer. So I said yeah, let’s do that. And he goes, “Okkkkkk, that means you’ve got to dismount.”


Trainer B got a rope halter with a long lunge line rope thingy attached to it, and we took off P’s running martingale and reins. We headed out to Trainer B’s field where he has a smattering of XC jumps, and he started P over a tiny log, which P hopped right over.

Thanks for making me look like a liar, pony.

But then he pointed him at a saw horse jump and P was like, “NOPSIES!”

But after some cajoling, he went.


After going over it like a dozen times each way, he added in the log on the other side, so P was going jump to jump and he was good, so he moved to the ditch.

And P made me a liar again. I said you were GOOD at ditches. Sigh.  Though to be fair, it’s a big ditch. But still.

So we talked afterwards and he said that this is what he does with his young horses and even his upper level horses when issues arise. Work on the ground, just sending them over jumps repeatedly. Don’t let the horse back off from it or turn into you…only release pressure when they go forward and jump the jump. He said it’s all in P’s head and he just needs to get it wired into his brain that if he’s pointed at a jump, he jumps it.

And this is stuff I know. This is how I taught P to self load in a trailer. And it’s also how I taught him ground poles and small jumps when I first restarted him. But for some reason, ever since he’s been a real riding horse, it didn’t even occur to me to go back to the very beginning to solidify that response to this particular issue. I’ve always fought with P from the saddle. It hasn’t been very fun and there have definitely been times where I’ve backed off because I’ve felt unsafe.

He also said that P should NOT have stopped the way he did last week when I “popped off” (he made it sound like it was graceful. It was NOT. I think I still have some of his GGT footing in my hair). And that it’s not fair to me that P only jumps if I’m perfect. So my homework is to get all this sorted from the ground for a few days, then when I come back we’ll get him off the trailer and right over some of the jumps from the ground, then I’ll get on and we’ll see what we’re working with.

Tomorrow I’m going to do it on my own. We couldn’t today because the Voltaire rep came out and we spent like 2 hours on saddles (more on that tomorrow), so tomorrow I’m going to get creative and make P jump whatever crazy things I can find from the ground. So far I have some boxes, 2 colored plastic trunks, a tarp and some shavings bags in the bed of my truck.

We’re going XC schooling Sunday so I’m hoping it will transfer over. Fingers crossed.


I entered P for real in the War Horse Event Series in BN. I asked Trainer B’s opinion on that- if I should scratch or even just drop him to a lower level, and he said no, to go for BN. So I am. I get to school P over most of the jumps the day before, so hopefully that helps.


I’m taking the next week to hopefully have my trailer upgraded since I reserved an RV spot and have NOT reserved a hotel (maybe I should do that…). All the parts except the awning arms are in, and they’re expected in any day, then it should take 2 days max to get everything installed and ready to plug in.

I’m hoping to get in a lesson with Trainer J whenever I get my trailer back, then I have a lesson with Trainer B the following Wednesday, 2 days before we leave for Carolina Horse Park. Then it’s off to the show!



8 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans”

  1. Can you bring stuff to decorate jumps with at your home barn? I’ve used stuff like bright beach towels, any kind of cone, dollar store fake flowers, crepe paper wrapped around the poles, if you’re handy with power tools you can do a lot with pallets and leftover paint and they are super lightweight and easy to transport if you can’t keep them at your barn. You can send him over all from the ground, keep everything at xrail height, whatever it takes to relearn that he needs to go over what you point him at. I’ve also had to make “creative” looking jumps on the cheap to address a similar issue with another horse. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, not usually. I typically ride after work and so am sharing the arena with lesson kids. I just went and set up some stuff behind the shed since there were no lesson and it worked like a charm. I’m going to have husband build some stuff- BO said I could put some things in a pasture and even just some painted poles would be great. I like the beach towel idea, too!


      1. That’s what I use the crepe paper for, just wrap it around the pole so it looks painted. I’ve used the beach towel just hanging on a vertical or even across the top of an oxer to make the jump look solid!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for posting this! My girl is exactly the same and I’m at my wits end. Love the suggestions. Good luck but I’m sure the event will go smoothly with all the hard work you’ve been putting in!

    Liked by 1 person

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