Disasters in Jumping

After giving G all of last week off thanks to a case of the sniffles and a really awful work week, I saddled her up Friday for a jumping lesson with Trainer Anne. I was feeling pretty good about it- after all, we’d just had a fantastic dressage show, the weather was beautiful, and Gina had really done well with the last gymnastic exercise she’d been presented.

I set up Course 3 from Jim Wofford’s Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider, which looks exactly like Course 2, but with another one-stride added at the end. The jumps were plain, 2′ verticals.

Gina warmed up like a horse that hasn’t been ridden in a week. She was looky, counterbent, and being a bit of a spaz. She isn’t normally one to have issues after a short break; I think the sight of the poles on the ground were sending her into an anxious fit. Anne had me doing lots of circles and spiraling in and out, which eventually made G settle down. We trotted through the gymnastic without a problem with all the jumps down. We went through perfectly as the jumps went up, too, and I was very pleased. The one-strides were one stride, G didn’t hesitate or become overly anxious, and she came right back to a brisk trot after we completed with exercise.

Anne and I decided to push our luck. We removed the middle jump and set it up off to the side. The plan was to take Gina through the combination, now a three-stride, turn, and pop over the single vertical. No big deal, right?


Wrong! Gina went through the three-stride perfectly, turned the corner, saw the jump, and started backing off 50 feet away. I urged her forward with my legs and voice and just for a second I thought she’d go ahead. But no, she dug her heels in and screeched to a halt a stride out. Anne suggested that G may have gotten mixed signals from my riding, and told me to try it again. I did, and this time I definitely rode very firmly. I did everything to communicate to G that we were turning this corner at a canter and we were headed toward this vertical and we were going to jump it! Well, G disagreed and pitched a hissy fit, nearly tossing me over her head.

Anne lowered the jump to a ground pole, and Gina reluctantly walked over. At a crossrail, Gina started to toss her head, but I didn’t give her enough space to do anything but hop awkwardly over it. When the jump was back to a vertical, I managed to get Gina over it a couple of times. Surprisingly, she didn’t take it huge or ugly, but very appropriately, for her all shenanigans on the approach.

We took the three-stride a couple more times, too, for good measure. Once she was dreadful, launching at the first fence and bounding two strides to the second. The next time, she was much quieter and more careful. With a good combination under our belt after the hissies, I decided to call it a day.

I don’t have a clue what Gina’s problem is with courses of jumps, or why she’s fine with gymnastics but nothing else. Anne suggested we set up another course of poles, then turn that into a little course of crossrails. I’m totally open to this idea. It might help- after all, G did improve after doing the first course of poles. Perhaps she does lack confidence. She still seems to lack the necessary trust in me. We’ll see.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

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