First I’m going to get this out of my system:
SQUEEE SQUEE SQUEE SQUEE SQUEE SQUEE!!!!!!!!
Ok. I think I’m done.
No. Now I’m done.
Saturday was gorgeous and I thought to myself “Sara, you have standards and poles, why wait to trailer out when you can set up a small course here at home?” It was a good question and one I couldn’t answer, so I set about dragging the arena to improve the footing and placing some jumps.
Everything was set to go. The footing was soft and fluffy, it was warm and sunny, and the horses were left out to not blow poor H’Appy’s mind. In my mind, everything was set up for a successful and fun ride.
You can imagine my surprise when I found a fire breathing dragon rearing in the cross ties throwing a massive temper tantrum. Over what? Your guess is as good as mine.
The second time he nearly slaughtered me trying to brush him and I’d had enough. Ok. You want to be this way? Fine. I’m about to go MOTHER on your ass. Ask Wyatt – when the MOM voice comes out I’m not playing.
I marched him to the arena not tolerating even a single hoof out of place on the way there and threw him on the line. He promptly farted, bucked, and dug in deep taking off in a hell bent gallop to no where. His training in lunging is awesome though and while he was a maniac he stayed out on the circle and never pulled on me.
So I stood there and watched him go around and around and vaguely worried that he was about to blow a tendon, but then realized I didn’t really care in that moment if a limb fell completely off. When he tried to slow down I didn’t let him. Finally I asked to trot and when he did I asked him immediately back into a canter then worked him transitioning between all gaits with no more than five steps in each until Homeboy no longer cared about anything but me. Then I changed direction and made him do it all over again.
By the time I let him stop he was caked in sweat, lathered between his abundant buttocks and blowing hard.
I didn’t care. This wasn’t my fault and I had had enough. We marched back to the barn where he stood like a gentleman to be groomed and tacked and then headed back to the arena to work on the exercise I had set up.
Under saddle he started off with his head up his butt. I thought “oh no you don’t. I’ve been too easy on you treating you like some super fragile glass horse. No more. I set everything up for you to succeed and I refuse to let you bait me into an easy ride”
So we trotted and he wanted to canter. I had words with him over that and he eventually settled. Sorry bud, none of this is my doing. We are jumping this course today. If it takes you an hour to decide to comply that’s on you.
I think it was about 40 minutes later and he settled in to the task at hand. He became adjustable and listened to my half halts. If he did ask to canter instead of trot and I said no he came back within a step or two versus two entire laps of the arena.
At that point we got to jumping.
And guys….it was AMAZING. Capital AMAZING.
I started off going over the cross rail away from the gate, looping around the right to the vertical along the rail and then going around the crossrail to hit the vertical on the diagonal. Some times I’d stay going right and do it again, others I’d turn left and go around that way.
H’Appy got better and better each round. After a couple of times I let him canter and…yeah…I’m addicted. He is easy to jump. He never says no. He never waivers. He locks on and just goes. After a bit I began to relax and I used my brain. It had long since stopped screaming “we are going to die!” and gone quiet so it seemed like a good time to start engaging it too.
As we came up to the vertical I found my brain turning on and told myself to sit back and up, wait with leg on until the base and then relax and let him go. And shocker of all shockers, the jump came up and we went over smooth as silk.
It was hard to make myself stop but he had worked really hard and was stinky with sweat. Plus we had a hockey game to go to that night and I was running out of time to get him cooled down and put back out. He got a ton of praise for the second half of the ride, a nice long cooling shower with a ton of time spent on his legs, and then I had just enough time to change and not smell like a horse before we had to get going. Below is a video of the end of the ride.