Friday, September 25, 2015

He's So Bad and He Does it So Well

There's your Friday-morning TSwift reference. You're welcome.

Yesterday I took Mo on an XC schooling adventure. M had a couple of other students going so we tagged along, as did my mom on Teddy (M said Teddy got the award for Best Mane).

You can see why.
Teddy didn't really jump, although he bravely stepped over some logs and did the little step in and out of the water. The other two horses and Mo needed pretty much the same school, so that was good.

Good thing: Mo jumped everything put in front of him without saying no at all. He did ask some questions but I put my leg on and he jumped everything. The jumps ranged from tiny logs on the ground to some solid BN questions. He owned the jumping, the terrain questions, all of it. Ditch-to-jump, jump-to-ditch, on the bank, off the bank, funky looking jumps, whatever.

This was, what, my second day with him or something?
He's never cared much about terrain issues. Love that.

Bad thing: He did NOT own the "we're just hanging out" time. It was chilly yesterday, and he was a little up, and he just wanted to mess with me endlessly. He also got nappy about leaving the group a couple times. But if I made him gallop away from them, he would. There was a lot of head-flinging and acting like a dummy, so he's gonna get a running martingale for at least awhile.

This would have been a mild disobedience in yesterday's context.

What was interesting was that his best behavior was when he was pointed at a jump he thought was interesting or maybe hard. Then he'd focus on his job. But logs on the ground are borrrrrriiiiiiing to him now. This is a HUGE step up from where we were at the end of May, exactly four months ago. However, I would like him to be rideable. I think we'll get all the pieces in place. He was acting like a screwball yesterday, but I don't think he really is one fundamentally.

Fundamentally he wants to nap.

The one thing that kinda messed me up with his behavior was that I was taking back the reins too quickly after the jump to defend against his antics, when what I needed to do was stay soft and just let him gallop. We all know this horse needs to be more forward-thinking, and so the worst thing for me to do is to stop him. But always happens, M harasses me until I do what she wants. I'm pleased that I was able to stay soft going TO the fence, and put him between my leg and the jump and leave my hands out of it (and this comes from him now understanding his job, that he's to march down to the middle of the fence and jump over it, so I don't have to keep a hold of his mouth on the way in). I also have my release back and was able to let him jump all the way over the fence without feeling my hand at all. But within a couple strides of landing I was instinctively like "get back here" instead of "go go go." By the end it was much better, and this really is an easy thing to fix. I just have to be aware of what I'm doing, and isn't that a huge part of riding anyway?

Ultimately, I'll take the horse that ably and enthusiastically jumps what's in front of him and yanks my chain when he's bored over the horse that ambles around like a saint but can't/won't jump. That's my preference, and it doesn't have to be yours. Still, I think I can get Mo's brain back into my hands over time. We all know that his brain does sometimes fall out an ear and roll away. This ain't the first time that's happened and won't be the last! I also trust my seat enough to know I can stick a lot of crap, and I trust him enough to know that the crap isn't going to get truly terrifying.

We were schooling at a place owned by a lovely man whose life basically revolves around OTTBs, and he's been in love with Mo for awhile. So when he came up to us after the schooling he was eager to show me (and Mo) that the lock screen on his phone is a picture he took of Mo back in May when we went to the Brian Ross clinic. I LOVE it. I texted it to myself right away. It was worth the trip just for that!

He's not very tall but he IS handsome as hell.
He jumped well enough that if we can get one more good XC school in the next week or so, I might move him up to BN for MDHT on the 18th. We'll see!


  1. Martingales are magic.You guys have come so far!

  2. I had the same issue of grabbing my horse's face after a jump and what helped me at first was to count strides after the jump and forbid myself to take up contact until the third stride, and then take it softly. Seriously, mare was so much happier with me not hypermanaging her every step, but I will always struggle with this!

  3. way to go Mo! exciting about the potential move up too. if everything goes according to plan we should be at loch moy too. should be a good time!

  4. I am working on riding the "after" part of the fence as well. It's hard!