Jumpers, dressage and horse trials prep… all in one night!

So last night I spent way too much time, but fun time, over at Waredaca riding two horses in their schooling jumper show, coaching a student and watching some friends jump and pony clubbers practice their dressage tests. Yep, they had a fix-a-test clinic going on too. Anyway, the two boys I got to jump were both very good all night.

Top Gear is a new sales horse I’m riding for Jotunheimens Staller Dressage. The owner (Maat) is doing all his flat training and day to day work and I’m just getting on him every now and then to jump. He is a bit on the hot side right now but has a great mind about him. He really really wants to please. Last night was only the second time I’ve jumped him and we started off at 2′. He was a bit in sensory overload when he first arrived and it took three of us to get me on. Then we got lead around from the ground before letting us loose. And seriously, as soon as that chain was off, he was off! But within a few trot circles around the warm up area he was totally in control and listening to me.

For his first round he was brave and jumped everything but was very wiggly and we had no rhythm at all. With these young horses, I firmly believe that the best thing to do it just sit still and let them figure it out. So I never kicked him for a distance or held for a tight spot. I just worked on keeping him straight and letting him decide when and where to jump from. So, admitting it was a bit ugly, but he’s smart and made it through leaving all the rails in their cups.

A few horses latter, we went back into the ring again and I set out to do the same thing. Sit quietly, trot and let him figure it out. Only this time, as we were about three strides from the first fence, I felt him let out a sigh and then he just picked up the most quiet balanced canter ever and cantered his whole course like he’d done it a million times before. He is so freaking smart! Seriously! This horse is going to be awesome! Someone needs to snatch him up! I couldn’t help but smile and pat his neck telling him what a good boy he was. As I walked out of the ring to talk with his owner we were all just smiling and saying how great he was.

We did two more rounds, one at 2’6” and one at 2’9”. He was good both times, though the overall rhythm is still in the works. By the last round, he decided he was smarter than me and went a tad quick but a circle here and there and he was back to a nice canter. But honestly, even that didn’t worry me. As far we know, this was his first show experience and he was a total champ. What is so cool about this horse is that he wants so desperately to please. By the end of the night, he was standing quietly with the other horses and hanging out. Here is a link to his sales page for anyone who is interested. He is not an amateur’s horse but he’ll be perfect for someone who’s already competing at Novice or doing the 3′ jumpers looking for their next horse. http://jsdressage.com/Sales.html

Maat is working on posting photos and video from last night so I’ll link to those or post here later this week.

I started Jack with a 2’3”-2’6” warm up round. It was way too small for him but I wanted to be able to trot if needed and really make sure he got to the base. We’re still working on not going for the long spots. He started out really well, then the distance in the one stride was a bit off and he tried to put two and scrambled out of it. This pissed him off a bit and he bucked and then took off with me down the next line. Totally over jumped the waves. It still cracks me up when he does this cause his knees come up so high and then you can see his toes up by his face. I jammed the end of my crop into my neck though because of how much he came up to me.

I waited for the jumps to get bigger and went back in at 2’9”. He was much more rateable until I kicked for the long one stride. Then we had the same issue with him just barreling down to the fences. Always jumping clean and tidy but just too quick. At that point my plan was just to wait till 3′ or 3’3” so that the jumps would set him back a bit but then I remembered that I entered him at Beginner Novice this weekend, which would be a max or 2’9”. So really, the smart thing to do was go back in at that height again and fix the issue.

So instead of doing the whole course again, I started where the problem was happening, the oxer before the one stride. He put two in the one again but this time, instead of running off when he landed, I sat him back on his butt early and he totally listened. Then I was able to loop my reins and quietly ride through the rest of the course. He really is a fun horse to ride. And what I love about him is when he does get worried about something, he just tucks his feet up higher. Mary laughed at us a one point saying he looked very cocky.

Part of me wanted to go back in an do that one stride over and over till it was perfect but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was the distance in the line that was wrong. The course designer had set it for a 26′, which is perfect in some ways because it allows the ponies to put 2 in if needed. However, they had done vertical to oxer. So, when even the horses jumped in quietly, it became too long to the oxer. If it was set the other way, oxer to vertical, it would have worked out better. In the end, I knew it wasn’t worth it to go back in and was happy with how Jack had finished the evening.

I stuck around to watch the pony clubbers practice their dressage tests. Their rally is next weekend. They are so cute and the horses were being very good. All scored well too and got great tips from the judges.

Logan and Mary also jumped around a bit. Summer was over jumping and being a full of herself with Mary but that’s a great sign going into the event this weekend. Logan has been experimenting with riding tighter lines so that Mickey really tucks up more and it worked. She had a rough ride at the start of her 3′ round but she totally fixed it by the third fence and ended strong. Again, she could have gone back in and tried to make the first part as good as the last but I pointed out that she was able to have a mistake and fix it mid-course, which was a total success. Plus it was getting dark and I didn’t want her horse to miss judge where to take off.

So tomorrow I head down to Stephen’s to pick up that mare for my aunt. Cross your fingers it all goes well. She’s a cool mare. Also get to hang out with Mary and watch her lessons with Mara. I’ve heard good things about Mara both from Mary and Stephen so it will be nice to watch the lessons.

Waredaca for Jack and I is all set for Saturday afternoon. I do feel silly competing him at BN but we’ve both been out of the game for so long and I just want a relaxing, easy day. If all goes well, the plan is Novice at Seneca in September and then Novice again at Waredaca in October. I may ask Stephen to show him Training at Rubicon in November. By then though, foxhunting will be in full swing so I will probably just pull Jack out of competing and enjoy the start of the hunting season.

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