Fuel the Fire

Fuel the Fire

We’ve been having massive rain in Austin lately, so my lesson on Sunday was my first one since the disappointing horse show. I’d be lying if I said I was super excited to be lessoning again. My brain had already prepared itself for life with a baby hunter, and had lost a lot of my gumption for the 2’6″-2’9″ jumpers with my changeless wonder horse.

My trainer had setup a mock hunter derby course to prepare for the horse show that got rained out Saturday, so she had us do a lot of windy courses with options, trot fences and rollbacks. This is the perfect course for Simon and I, because there are few places where we have to worry about strides and he tends to land on the correct lead when I’m preparing for a rollback. Even so, I started the lesson with a less than stellar attitude and prepared to flop around the jumps enthusiastically.

Photo compliments Heather F
Photo compliments Heather F

That is until I did my characteristic “here comes a square oxer so I should probably slow as much as possible and lean forward.” As Simon approached crawled to the oxer, I realized that if he attempted to jump it I would most likely fall off in a heap on the ground. So naturally I looked at the ground and sent him all of my “please don’t jump this jump” thoughts, to which he answered by politely stopping. It was 100% my fault, and the wakeup call I needed. There is no pouting in jumpers. Sit up and kick on, or get off the horse.

Photo compliments Heather F
Photo compliments Heather F

We re-approached the oxer. I sat up and asked him to go forward, and he did. Shocking how these simple concepts continue to evade me sometimes.

Photo compliments Heather F
Photo compliments Heather F

My trainer told me that I needed to work on breaking down over fences, so I made that my goal for the rest of the lesson instead of worrying about asking for leads over the fence. That plus my stop in the first course gave me a firm boost of determination. Our next course was pretty awesome for us. My distances were on point, and Simon even offered a flying change or two in rollbacks.

Photo compliments Heather F
Photo compliments Heather F

This is why my beloved horse can be so frustrating. At home he will land on his leads all day long and do changes when I barely ask, but take him to a show and the hamsters in his brain start spinning quickly as they squeak “THERE ARE SO MANY JUMPS TO JUMP AND WE ARE GOING TO JUMP THEM SO AWESOME!” Lessons like yesterday used to give me hope for the hunters, but instead I’m channeling that to determination for a competitive jumper course.

Photo compliments Heather F
Photo compliments Heather F

He even got super wiggly like he does when he’s amped up from lots of rollbacks and not sure which direction we’re going to go, but instead of getting loose in the tack or flying off to the side like I have in the past I stayed nice and tight and channeled his enthusiastic energy straight.

Photo compliments Heather F
Photo compliments Heather F

It was a good lesson. Even though I was a little still a little pouty, I felt a flicker of determination come back to show the horse I have right now.

28 thoughts on “Fuel the Fire

  1. I have the same leads-at-home no-leads-at-shows issue, it is frustrating in any discipline. Glad the lesson gave you a little more determination.

    1. I had the total opposite with Promise! Couldn’t get a lead change at home to save our lives, but at a show, they were 99% automatic. Too funny 🙂

  2. All horses are a little special, and it seems like you are back on track and riding to do the best you can! Plus your blue/yellow get up is so good!

  3. I know next to nothing about hunters and the training that you all do, and I am certain you have a very competent trainer, but I am wondering about what training techniques you’ve tried to help Simon with his leads. The reason that I ask is that lead changes are a very big skill in dressage. A lot of time is spent teaching our horses to NOT auto change (hold the counter canter on purpose) and then a lot of time is spent teaching them WHEN to change.

    Have you considered working with a dressage trainer for a little bit to see if that approach might help Simon get what you’re asking for? I only make the suggestion because I rode with a h/j trainer for several years but finally had to move on when I needed to focus on purely dressage concepts. I was amazed at how differently things can be taught from one discipline to another, not necessarily better, but different.

    Just my measly two cents worth. :0)

    1. This is an interesting perspective Karen. I would be interested to know what a dressage trainer might have up their sleeve to help.

    2. I second this suggestion. Or (I may get flamed for this) a reining trainer may also have good techniques to clean up those changes. I certainly have learned all sorts of tools to help Hampton learn the changes – and then even more to clean them up!

      1. You know what’s funny? I rode dressage for years and lead changes were SUCH a big deal. They always involved all this build-up and you didn’t get to do them for years into your dressage training.

        But in reining – changes were always so easy. The body control involved is taught to the horses & riders so early that kicking out, cross-cantering, refusing to change…those just aren’t issues in reining. My 3 year old was changing with ease. And I haven’t taken her in the show pen or schooled changes in a year & a half, but two days ago I was doing changes and counter-cantering without any problems. Meanwhile, I spent 10 years of my life doing dressage and never even got to doing flying changes!

  4. Holy crap Simon looks like he’s been hitting the ‘roids. Like, he is seriously ripped in those photos. Makes me think of one of those super muscular model horses, where you can feel their muscles. I feel like I could touch these photos and he’d feel like those plastic models. I know you know what I’m talking about. 🙂

    1. Psssh no.

      Dear Internet,

      Buy a saddle with blocks so big your leg can’t physically move. You won’t be able to hack in it, but your jumping pictures will look legit! 😉

  5. 1. Your #ROOTD is awesome in these pics
    1b. You matching game is ON POINT and I’m jealous.
    2. OMG your eq! Your breakover is killer, your legs are so still and your heel is down. LOVE.
    3. I love your attitude — sometimes we don’t come super excited and feeling it to every lesson, but the way you shook off the funk is awesome. You go, Glenn Coco !!

  6. Sometimes our ponies know when we need a little pick me up. Glad Simon got the memo. Sounds like a very productive and successful lesson!

  7. OMG I feel your pain. Last night I had a bad spot on the in of a 4 stride and for 4 stride thought oh crap, oh crap, oh crap the out is going to be really messy instead of actually doing something to fix it. Sometimes the hamster falls off the wheel and needs a water break. Looking good girl!

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