When I decided to retire Gem I knew one thing: my next horse would be a confidence builder. I had had a ton of confidence before getting Gem. Probably too much. She taught me a lot of great things, but the one bad thing she did was kill off my confidence. I needed a horse who would help me find it again.
Eeyore is mostly fitting that bill. His temper tantrums aren’t my favorite thing in the world and I wish he wouldn’t have them, but each ride shows improvement. Last night I threw him on the lunge again and he was fine. I got on board and he was great at the walk. I’m really getting the hang of the walk. Not like Olympic level getting the hang of it, but you know like adult ammy who doesn’t ride as often as she should getting the hang of it. I’m 1000x more relaxed, my hips/seat follow his movement instead of being a rigid board prohibiting it and my elbows stay bent and following. The best thing is that I am using my seat and leg aides and not going to my hands. It is the coolest feeling to me to use my outside leg and rein to get him to turn. I still can’t really wrap my head around how using my left leg and rein gets him to turn right. I’m sure there is some physics/biomechanics lesson in there that I don’t care to unlock, I just think it is a really cool thing.
I moved him up to the trot and he didn’t really like that idea much. He started curling up and shaking his head side to side in his warning that he wants to rear or go flying off. This time I called him on his bluff and booted his orange butt forward. And you know what? He went forward, realized it is too much effort to fight and settled down. He never got as relaxed as last week. He was a bit pissy that the others were put out after dinner and he was made to stay in and get tacked up instead and he refused to fully relax, but he trotted and didn’t throw any more tantrums.
The one trick he did pull back out which he hasn’t done in a long time is hanging on my hands. Apparently it was too much effort to hold his own head up last night. Again, I booted him forward and he responded though remained sulky about it. Life is hard.
I had two exercises I wanted to work on. One was exercise 3 from the Jumping Book: a single ground pole in the center ridden as an X shaped figure 8. Clear as mud? Good. It is actually my favorite single ground pole exercise to date. It requires riding a straight line, cutting over the pole on an angle and then creating bend at the far side to turn and come back over the pole on a straight line again. Thus forming the X with an arc connecting the top and bottom. It keeps me honest with my path while fluctuating between straightness and bend.
Eeyore was pretty great about it too. He is so much easier to work with than my Gemmie as repetition doesn’t make him want to explode with firey rage nor does he decide he knows better after one trip and refuse to take input. He just plods along with it. It makes it easy to over work him on something which is a point I’ve been keeping in mind. I find myself not wanting to stop.
I also set up a 2′ vertical down the one side about 4′ off the rail and closer to the gate end of the arena. I figured that jumping him towards home would get him pepped up and the shorter exit would help me keep him slowed on the back side of the fence. No bucking and taking off on landing. Or wait…that was Gem.
So we head towards the little vertical (the highest I have actually jumped in my short lived jumping career, so not so little looking to me) and he is dragging his head and not really paying much attention so the jump comes as a bit of a surprise. Pay attention Doofus. He walks over it.
Ok fine. We come back around, I make sure to give my best attempt to get him ahead of my leg, I look up and prepare to grab mane and….he trots very beautifully over it.
Ok fine. Try again. And again. And again. I could not for the life of me get him to actually jump over the darn thing. He trotted it every single time. I tried closing my legs. I tried clucking. I even tried jumping it for him..not recommended by the way. And each time he politely took it as an elevated trot pole.
I wasn’t brave enough on my own (the boys were down at the pond fishing) to jack the pole up to higher than I have previously jumped but apparently Mr. Lazy Pants refuses to put forth the effort to jump something that is tall enough to trot over. Point taken. And thus takes me to the start of this post. While he isn’t the perfectly behaved little angel that I dreamed of, he will make me more confident by being too lazy to do anything he doesn’t really have to. Like jump over something he can trot over. Looks like I’m going to get my year end wish of jumping 2’3″ by default. Otherwise I’ll keep trotting over everything.