Monday, April 20, 2015

Coil the Spring

JUST as I get this written, I'm on the verge of having a show recap for you (if all goes well--I'm writing this on Saturday night), as well as Mo's Friday jump school and a surprise tack ho moment. I'm having a very different problem than what I had over the winter, that's for sure.

Red got to go to M's for a jump school on Wednesday. It was... not the chill ride that I'd had on Mo on Monday, but no one died or left the ring bleeding so all is well.

First of all, everyone who has seen him lately has commented on how great he looks. I'm pretty proud of that. I thought he looked pretty good over the winter, but he is STUNNING now--his coat looks great, he's muscling up, and he's developing a topline. And I think he'll just keep getting better. In other good news, he was in general acting much more civilized at Mary's. Oh, and she had huge puddles in the ring from all the rain the night before. Red does not like to get his tootsies wet, so I led him through one time and then the rest of the ride he had to wtc through them like they weren't there. And really, it was a non-issue. I was pretty stoked about that.

We did all the same jumps Mo did last time, but he's just a very different ride. Mo needs a little leg just as he sets his shoulder against the fence, but that's it. Keep the arms soft, keep your eye where it belongs, and you'll be fine (plus or minus a couple baby wiggles). Red, on the other hand, coils his spring against your hand, and M had to get me used to dealing with the way he wants to be ridden. The good news is, she has a horse just like him so she's used to it. The bad news is, she doesn't really like that ride, ha!

Here's how it works, basically: if you have a spring, and you want to coil it tighter, you can't just put pressure on it from one end or the other. You have to have some degree of pressure on both ends. So Red needs the leg set to just the right dial, and you HAVE TO keep your rein contact EXACTLY the same until he's in the air. And then land and be ready to ride so he doesn't root the reins out of your hands and run. The waterford will do for now, but I can see us in a running martingale and/or a bigger bit at some point, because he is a ton of horse to put together. On the other hand, I think he'll be easier to ride as the jumps go up. We'll see.

Schooling at home--I'm pleased with his frame here.

We had a bunch of stops, all because of some mistake I made in the degree of pressure on his sides or in his mouth (usually not enough). This kind of thing annoys me, but it's part of learning, and we didn't have any bloody run-outs. Victory. The one thing I'll whine about is that three or four strides out, he takes over, which makes it hard to keep everything exactly the same. I think we'll be able to fix this (and sometimes when the jumps go up it helps). I know he was ridden a little wild before I got him, and he's settled down a lot in general, so we are gonna have to see what happens.

The last thing I needed to fix is that when he started to launch those three strides away, my "don't get ahead of him" instinct led me to lean back, and that worked like bracing against him, so he'd just jump flat across the fence with no bascule and make the landing really gross. It went better if I actually leaned forward the tiniest bit when he did that, so I was just staying with him. Then he could jump around the fence because we were on the same page and he wasn't having to jump against me. If that makes sense. It sounds so obvious now when I'm typing it out, but on a horse I don't know super well when it comes to jumping and who's quite a lot to put together anyway, it felt like calculus.

Still got a ways to go on the same frame in the canter but he'll get there.

I'm not sure M loves Red as much as I do, but I'm hoping we can make a lot of progress this summer. It'll be good for me. And as tricky and sensitive as he is, he isn't dangerous, so I'm more than willing to work this out. Besides, I love the old dummy.

Our homework is mostly on the flat, getting more gears in the canter. But I'm also going to put a jump up at home and fix this problem before I'm getting hollered at about it again, so that next time M sees Red we have new problems instead of the same ones. Right? Right.


  1. What a fun & completely different lesson to MoMos. I have no doubt you'll work out the kinks and be on the same page in no time. In time M too will loff him cos he is such a character

  2. It's so great for you to have different rides at this stage, I think. And I really think that the more you jump, the more you & Red will become partners. It's just sticky right now because you're figuring each other out.

  3. New problems mean something changed with means you learned something, so yes. Here's to new problems!

  4. i rode a horse for a long time that sounds kind of like Red. she didn't take nearly as much work to put together, it seems like, but you absolutely had to remain exactly the same (and still) to the fence or you were gonna get launched. it, uh, taught me a lot haha.

    very cool that you're able to get so much variety in your riding tho - hopefully M starts to appreciate Red like you do too :)

  5. Oh, opinionated old man horses. Gotta love them.