It’s official: Gina hates stadium jumps. Her performance today left no doubt in my mind about her opinion of jumps constructed of poles. Since G had recently been going fairly well over cross-country obstacles (hay bales and barrels), I decided to try stadium jumping again today. The last time we attempted this, Gina had a conniption and ended up leaping four feet over an 18″ crossrail after refusing to even walk over ground poles. With some positive work in the field, it seemed like a good time to reintroduce regular jumps. I set up two small crossrails in a two-stride.
First, the positive: she put in some fantastic work during our warm-up. She was relaxed, happy, flexing and bending. I couldn’t be more pleased.
Once she saw the jumps and realized what my plan was, she went totally bonkers. She refused to trot over them. I asked nicely. She refused again. I popped her on the hindquarters with my bat. She launched herself into the air over the jump and promptly stopped when she realized another one was coming up. I flew off and she galloped away. Sigh. (Note: I have fallen off G more times in the last four months than I have fallen off Moe in the last four years.) Anne and I wrangled G in, I hopped back on, and put her to the tiny crossrail again. And that’s when the rearing started. It wasn’t big, scary Lone Ranger-style rearing, thank goodness. It was more of a “lift front legs off ground two feet repeatedly” rear, but it was terrible behavior nonetheless. We circled in tiny circles and I couldn’t get her to canter more than a stride before she stopped and started her rear/hop again. Jeez.
Seeing few other options, I took her back to our warm-up arena while Anne went to grab a longe line. That’s when things got weird. Gina totally chilled out, cantered around beautifully collected, and even managed a couple of flying lead changes. Like, instantly. She could still see the jumps, but once I stopped asking her to actually deal with them, she was fine. Anne set the crossrails down and I managed to get Gina to walk over the now-ground poles in both directions with little incident. Then I dismounted and longed her over both jumps set as crossrails. She was totally fine with this arrangement and even looked excited to go over the fences. So the problem appears to be having a rider on her back. Which is really inconvenient.
After talking with Anne, I think we’re going to start G back at square one with jumping. Treat her like she doesn’t know how to jump at all. Get her over ground poles until she’s confident that I’m not going to ride her like a psycho or hurt her. Then add a crossrail. And another. And so on. I hope this will restore her faith in the ability of humans to not ride like idiots.
What do people do to horses???