Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Tale of Two Days

Saturday I hauled out bright and early for a lesson over at A's. It was hovering right around freezing and I was cursing myself for saying yes to a 9am lesson. Peebs has been a little up lately, and spookier than he normally is. I figured I'd lunge him a little at A's if I needed to, but he'd been worked pretty hard all week so I though we'd be fine. We haven't jumped much in the past month, so my plan for the lesson was to get back into the groove and flow of jumping again.

Peebs was very up when I got on, not spooking and taking off, but stopping to stare at things in the distance or my trainer setting fences.  He also got mad when I asked him to trot away from A's horse Scottie, his BFF, which is not like him at all. I think I cantered two strides before I got off and put him on the lunge.  He did buck and leap and play and felt marginally better when I got back on.

"Me, be naughty? Never!"
Trainer started us off by trotting two single diagonal fences in a figure 8. One was a cross rail and the other a 18" vertical. He got a little fast to the vertical and tried to play and go sideways when I corrected, but we made it over. I started getting a little nervous and tense when he wanted to play but kept it together while we did those fences a few times. 

Then I was told to trot into the outside line, that was maybe 2ft. Cue massive panic attack. If he wanted to play to the single fence, how would we make it through a line?! I voiced some concern to trainer and she told me to stop him between the two fences if he felt bold. So that's what I did.  Only I used way more hand than I needed and Peebs got rightfully upset and popped up his front end with his head straight in the air. It honestly felt like he was going to go up with me, but I'm sure it looked much tamer. We tried the line again but same thing, only this time Peebs took more offense and flung his body sideways and backwards to show his displeasure at my heavy hands. Which only fed my panic and caused me to curl up the fetal position holding onto his face even more. Trainer talked me down, explained what was wrong, and what she wanted me to do instead.

We went back to one of the diagonal fences and my instruction was to pretend to be a beginner pony kid, hold my two point, and for the love of God, DO NOT TOUCH HIS FACE. "Commit to doing nothing" was what she kept saying. The first time trotting up to the 18" vertical felt awful, and landing and holding my two point while not doing anything honestly felt like I was going to die. Peebs landed and cantered away fine, a little fast and unbalanced in the corner, but in my panicked state I felt like we were going down. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. And then trainer made me do it again, then a third time. I hated every second of it. But it worked; Peebs was much softer and happier. When we went back for the fourth try and trainer said I could pick him up before the corner on the off side, I only had to use a tenth of hand I had used before. We quit with that since I still felt like puking and was mentally done.

Peebs loves all of Scottie
Trainer said I need to jump more.  Both for my confidence and keep Peebs from getting bored and wanting to play. She suggested I haul him back Sunday to ride with A again and A said they have an empty stall and I could leave Peebs overnight. After untacking I ran back to my barn, got Peeb's blankies and grain and then went back to A's to tuck him in.

What a difference a day makes
A and I agreed to ride Sunday afternoon together.  She ended up being a bit late which worked for me as I was able to do my warm up alone and focus on not being too handsy.  Peebs felt much better than Saturday; not as distracted or playful and more focused on his job. We trotted over the fences we had jumped the day before with no issue so I got brave and cantered them. Other than picking and not having as much pace as I should have, we were fine.  I wasn't panicked and using way too much hand and Peebs was his normal la-de-da self. I then got really brave and decided to try the single oxer, set on a long approach as a single on the outside. The first couple of times I was picking as we came to it, but on the third try I sat up and put my leg on and moved him up. All three times he didn't care what I was doing and landed in the same canter as he had before. It was a complete 180 from the day before.

I'm going to make an effort to jump more, for both Peebs' and my sanity. Even if they're just crossrails I need to get out and get the reps in.  As long as the weather's good I'm going to haul to A's at least once a month to jump, probably leaving Peebs there on a weekend so I can use her arena both days. And I'm going to be more diligent in setting lessons with my trainer. Hopefully we've had our very bad no good lesson for a while and we'll start getting back to bigger and better jumps!


  1. Glad day two was better! Your trainer sounds so patient and truly helpful. It's not fun to have rides like the first one, but it's nice to know it doesn't have to carry over.

  2. I do miss jumping twice a week I felt it was really great for building and making progress. Glad that Peebs agrees :P