The weather was looking gross last weekend. Rain predicted all day Sunday and the reality didn’t disappoint. It poured buckets from 7 pm Saturday night to 10 pm Sunday. Gross. Knowing that in advance, I planned to ride on Saturday. A quick look into the jumping book had me shaking my head. Trotting a single ground pole wasn’t my idea of fun after a month of solid flat work. It was time to break out the jumps and go flying over some raised poles once again.
It had been since the beginning of November, so I kept it simple and set up an easy and very forgiving line of two verticals set on a turn. I haven’t measured the standards to know for sure the height but it was somewhere between 18″-2′. I wanted to make it easy enough for our first jump school in forever so as not to punish Gem in anyway for getting something wrong.
The biggest thing trainer yells at me for, and really the only time I officially get yelled at by her, is setting my sights on a jump, presenting Gem to it, then losing my lady balls and pulling her off at the last second. Not good. It basically teaches Gem that it is okay to say no and then adds in the escape route so that the next time she can take it on her own.
When I set up the two jumps, I kept that in mind giving myself plenty of room to circle after, go wide around the second jump etc…without her ever really locking onto the jump in advance.
In warming up, I kept to my more dedicated riding style. I made sure Gem always knew exactly where I wanted her to be traveling and how to get there. It really has made all the difference in how she goes. Gem doesn’t like being left to her own devices and that is my fault for not giving her the direction she needs.
I admit to having some butterflies when I turned and locked onto the first jump. I am a wimp after all. I had her trot in and she took it no big deal at all and then cantered away. The first time through I had her go wide around the second jump and then reapproached the first again and just began to play around with the two in both directions until I felt comfortable and then I asked her to do the very forgiving, not really related all that much, line.
She was very good and listened making the turn to the second jump super easy and never once said no. She didn’t even do her typical squirrelly go left no right no left again behavior leading up to the jump. On my end I made sure she was still between my legs and had plenty of time to see the jump before getting to it.
I’m not sure what has gotten into her lately, but I will take it!
Towards the end of the ride she started to get really fresh going into the jumps. She began taking long spots and launching herself over and then celebrating on the backside a bit. I didn’t want to punish her for having fun but I also didn’t want to reward her new found rushing behavior so after she did one last trip around nicely I called it a day.
I was so happy with her. And myself to be honest. After the initial butterflies disappeared they never returned and I even found myself laughing when she pulled me towards and over the jumps. It was a nice feeling knowing she was going over without question.