Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ready to jump again, we can do this!

Since my first rated show is this weekend, I figure I better get in gear and ride Sinatra otherwise this weekend could be a disaster.  Yesterday we worked on the flat, getting a good trot transition, getting a good canter transition from trot and still working on trot from canter.  Sinatra finally figured out that when we go from canter to the next gait down, I want a trot and not a pace so I consider that progress.  I end up getting only a stride or two of pace before a nice trot is picked up, I am hoping that will be good enough for our first show.  An expensive gamble yes, but we will try!   

Sinatra has a very nice floaty trot and has a beautiful "show" canter when he wants to.  Thankfully it is fairly easy to get it so I am working on getting it as soon as possible when I start riding.  Yesterday we worked on keeping a nice consistent headset when transitioning to and from trot and keeping a nice rhythmic canter.  Unfortunately I am just hoping for the best for the canter/trot transitions but we did practice them.  Also practiced backing up without reins, I think it looks nice to be sitting there and suddenly he backs up.  He can do it so it was just a matter of finessing.  He is really good at backing, which is awesome considering what he used to do when asked to back.  Rear, go sideways, require pulling, never backing straight.  Now I can simply apply leg and he drops his little head and backs, I love doing it in the ring.  I had a judge audibly say "wow" one time when we did it, loved it.

Today I jumped him under saddle for the first time since cross country schooling last month.  Should I have been doing this all along?  Uh, yeah but I ran out of time.  Oh well, I only do this for fun right?  If you recall I have spent most of my workings with Sinatra on a lunge line going over jumps so he learns how to jump by himself and without refusing.  I started the ride with some nice wt/c transitions and getting a decent gait within a lap.  I had originally measured my jumps as a 50' 3 to 4 stride but unfortunately that wasn't going to work due to size restrictions of my arena so I bumped it to a 30' 2 stride.  The line was a 2' vertical, 2 stride, 2' vertical.  I definitely wanted to push him over an immediately hard jump to see if he would back off and I was pleased to see he didn't.  I was displeased, however, to have him consistently be unable to meet the striding, jump properly, keep the lead or be quiet.  After trying to go over the set of jumps about a dozen times I gave up and moved the configuration.

I removed the line and set the jumps to be two single verticals, each with a long and short approach from the wall.  The first time over Sinatra brought down the fence which resulted in a pretty impressive spook. He tried really hard to help me fall off, I guess it is saying something that I am not falling off even though everyone's continued attempts lol.  A pretty hard one rein turn and some softening exercises brought him back and we didn't even hit a jump the rest of the ride.  It then took a few times for him to go over the jump correctly, a couple times he took off much too late, one time he took off way too early but he is getting better.  After finally going over both jumps correctly 3x each I put one of the jumps up to 2'6" and we went over it 3x like we had been doing it for months.  That made me happy, I am taking it to mean the work I was doing on the lunge is working.   He isn't being intimidated by the jumps anymore!  Am planning on jumping again tomorrow morning and as much as we can before Sunday, let's see how prepared I can get us!


  1. I'm glad he's improving. :) Did you ever try a ground pole to help him with his takeoff timing?

    How did you teach him to back without reins? I'm so curious.

  2. I have done/am doing ground poles to help with his take off and he is okay until we take the pole away. Must not be an ingrained habit yet and he isn't "figuring it out" on his own.

    The backing without reins is fairly simple, to back is a pull on the reins. I added a leg cue and then decreased the amount of pull on the reins until voila. I turn my toes out so the back of my heels are against the sides, put them slightly forward of the girth and then pull my heels in a backward fashion (vs an inward squeeze). That is my cue anyway. It is a completely different cue than any normal "riding" cues which is why I chose it. Hope it helps you!

  3. That sounds great! I'll definitely use that.

    I wonder why he isn't figuring it out. Do you think he has a problem with his eyes? I know horses don't have the same kind of depth perception we do . . . hmmm . . . I don't know. Interesting though. Keep us update please!

  4. I have long suspected his eyesight however each year I have his eyes checked and I am always told they are just fine. I started having them checked long ago due to his massive random spookiness (which is now just random spookiness). I think the reason is in the fact he just isn't a very bright bulb and he doesn't always think, he just reacts. Repetition is the only thing that will help it seems!