Thursday, September 12, 2013

An...Interesting Jump Exercise

So this week I decided to try practicing a jump exercise one of the trainers at my farm prescribed me to make Midnight's lopey canter more show-jumpery and springy. Here is the exercise:

1. Trot in to a jump and canter out.
2. Halt in a straight line.
3. Turn on the haunches, or do a very tight turn if you have no idea how to do a turn on the haunches, like me.
4. Trot into the jump the other way and canter out.
5. Repeat steps 2-4.

There were a few things that were different when I tried it. There was a hunter lesson going on at one end of the ring. The sun was starting to set. I was using a jump that was facing the barn. But I still did not expect what actually happened.

1. Trot into the jump.
2. Take off bucking. (This is actually not unusual for Midnight in the first jump of a session, and while it's very rude, Midnight's bucks are more like graceful dolphin leaps, so I don't have a problem sitting them.)
3. Halt? What's that?
4. Oh crap. We're galloping right through the middle of someone's lesson.
5. Maybe Midnight will stop at the VERY STEEP hill at the end of the arena if I ask him to.
6. Nope, I guess not.
7. Look down sheepishly at everyone in the arena from the concrete trailer parking area on top of the hill.
8. Re-enter arena, apologize profusely for making a scene.

This happened not once, but TWICE. On the upside, I stayed on, I wasn't scared, and I was a little perversely pleased that he made it up that crazy hill. On the downside, I was completely and utterly mortified, and it kind of ruined my whole night. Doubts of whether I was the right kind of rider for Midnight kept nagging me. I don't find these kinds of displays to be amusing, or a show of his "personality." Unless his personality is being a jerk.

We ended up just walking back and forth over the jump (it was like 18") and doing the exercise that way just to end on a "Hey, taking off bucking and galloping up the hill is not allowed" note. Next time I think I'll demote the exercise to just a pole on the ground...and in an arena with a FENCE.

Ugh. So frustrating. I also thought about whether I should ask his owner if I can try a different bit for jumping. Right now he has a loose ring snaffle with a copper peanut in the middle, and this isn't the first time the brakes have been less than responsive with him, though it was certainly the most SEVERE example. I don't know...I don't want to be the type of rider to just escalate to more severe bits, but this is a bit of a safety issue so maybe we could use a different bit to fix the running-through-the-aids issue and then go back to his regular bit.


  1. Yeah, sounds like it might be time for a new bit. Never good when the brakes "fail."

  2. Oh man.. Boo!! Sorry for that undesired wild ride!!

    Hopefully you can find a bit that works better and gives you some brakes!

  3. *giggle giggle*
    Ahem. Sorry. Do you know how to do a one rein stop? It's the most effective brake I know. Grab one rein and pull his head around sharply to your knee.
    As for whether you're the right rider for him, I wouldn't worry about it if the worst thing that happened was you were embarrassed :)

  4. Definitely agree that it might be time for a slightly more attention-grabbing bit. Sometimes they just get a little too full of themselves over fences and you need that.

    It must be trot fences week, my whole lesson last week was trotting to a really big vertical so Connor couldn't use speed alone to throw himself over the fence. It played to his weaknesses, but by the end we made progress.