I started blubbering about this to Husband the other day, but then I saw the look on his face: like I had sprouted 6 heads or something, so I figured I’d just ramble about it here.
I’ve kept it no secret that P and I used to struggle mightily over him stopping at jumps. New jumps, old jumps, plain jumps, decorated jumps….all he was equally likely to stop at.
Sometimes you could tell strides out that takeoff wouldn’t be happening:
Sometimes you had no idea:
So my way of dealing with it was to crawl him around to jumps. Because while I can sit the slow refusals, my stickability wasn’t as assured when he’d refuse suddenly. But that caused some terrible habits- pulling at him every stride, having little (or zero) momentum to jumps, taking my leg off and stiffening every muscle in my body to keep myself in the saddle. Oh, and leaning too. Because the fetal position will definitely help you stay on.
And so we both had to relearn….well, everything. I was pushed way out of my comfort zone and P was faced with bigger, scarier jumps.
But not right away, and I can’t even pinpoint a time where I felt overwhelmed. Everything we did week after week built upon the last until I found myself actually enjoying P for the first time since he was, uh, 4.
And even after Trainer B departed for Florida in December, we continued to cruise along- crushing 2’9″ jumper classes, our first ever BN horse trial, and signing an entry form for a Novice CT with confidence (that was ultimately cancelled BUT I STILL SIGNED UP SO IT COUNTS). Felt pretty unstoppable.
Riding has been quite iffy lately, thanks to the weather so P keeps getting multiple days off, and even though he’s come back to work each time with a very “Yes, ma’am” attitude, I’m finding my own confidence has been on a steady downward spiral.
What’s frustrating is there’s literally NO reason for it. I’ve been pretty much mostly working on my own deficiencies on the flat, with some jumping thrown in a couple days/week. And no matter what I’ve pointed P at, even if it’s something he’s literally never seen before, or previously had issues with, he’s been willing.
He used to see gymnastics (though not very often), or even a few trot poles in a row, panic, and either RUN through them or refuse. Now:
He also used to TAKE OFF down a line of jumps. Now I find myself setting things like this 2’6″ to a 3′ line and actually jumping it:
Then we went back to Trainer B’s when he came back for a weekend in January, and P jumped (on the first try) the lattice fence that used to be the source of all despair:
Bounces- I would NEVER do them. I convinced myself that P would just take a flying leap over all of them. You have no idea how nervous I was turning to this:
Even when they were raised and looked ALOT different. Which was always a deal breaker for P:
Thanks to one of my failed move ups to BN, where P refused an SJ warmup jump with a barrel under it repeatedly until I scratched, I avoided barrels at all costs. Until last week. And guess what? It was fine.
P’s never seen a corner jump in his life. One time Trainer B started to set one up, then P couldn’t even make it over a plank jump he’d seen only a billion times before, so the lesson was rerouted and we never jumped it. So I set one up last week. And again, NBD.
And then the other night. I totally stole Bette’s exercise (though modified for the barn’s arena) and tried it out.
So what the hell is my problem? I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and it wasn’t fun to say it out loud (and it’s not fun to type it), but I still don’t trust him.
I trust him on the ground, trust him with my kids, trust him solo in the woods, trust him in a dino costume….but I don’t trust him as we’re heading to a jump. And I don’t know how to change that, but I also know that I contributed to his stopping problem and if I’m not careful, it’s going to come back. P’s a sensitive soul and really reacts to me. When I was getting all defensive on the way to a fence, P would stop because I stopped riding. Then it became habit. When Trainer B gets on his back, he gets P to move and jump in ways I can only dream of…but Trainer B is confident and clear about what he wants. I’m not. I was for awhile, but it’s dwindling now.
Sooooo….what to do? Not jump for the next 2 weeks until Trainer B makes another trip up to NC? Commission Husband to learn key phrases and randomly shout them at me? I’m kind of at a loss.
I mean, there’s plenty to do on the flat. We’re FINALLY going to see Trainer J this week (OMG IT’S BEEN SO LONG), and I’ve been dropping my stirrups for a few minutes (until I start flopping- then it’s not fair to P) every other ride in hopes of gaining a more independent seat. Though better than before, I really need to kick the leaning habit for good.
I didn’t get to any of the competitions I had planned on this month- either I was too busy or they were cancelled, so tentatively our next HT is the first weekend in March. Luckily Trainer B is coming back for 2 days the week of the HT, so P will get a training ride and then the next day I’ll do a lesson and hopefully get my groove back.
This all my be due to the weather as well- it hasn’t been sunny in DAYS so I may find my confidence skyrocketing once the sun shows its face.
In other news…
So look out for a video collaboration from Triple Crown in the coming days! BO and I are super curious to see which clips they choose to integrate with other videos.