Can’t Kill the Bug

Can’t Kill the Bug

I have a little bug that I can’t kill. It’s not entirely unlike a virus. It doesn’t respond to antibiotics (or in my case, reason) and it has lived int he ecosystem of my brain for quite some time – dormant and waiting.

I still want to do the hunters.

I know, I know. My horse loves the jumpers, you say. We’ve done well in the jumpers, you add. Much progress has been made! All of this is true, but it doesn’t change the fact that when I walk to the ingate of a hunter class I’m filled with a sense of relief as opposed to fear or anxiety.

Photo by Heather F
Photo by Heather F

It’s not even the height of the fences that get me, but the courses. Simpler ones I can do pretty well, but jumpers involves so much brain power. Maybe part of the problem is that my brain power has been severely compromised lately, but settling into an easy outside/inside/outside/inside sounds lovely to me right about now.

Now that it’s out in the open, what am I going to do about this problem?

Photo by Heather F
Photo by Heather F

Part of it depends on my noble steed. Although Simon loves the jumpers, he also loves anything in which he is a “good pony” and gets to jump over obstacles. The two biggest things killing us in the hunters originally were making the strides and lead changes. These days, the strides come easy to us… which is great news!

Lead changes are a bit more of a problem, but I’m starting to have hope. I’ve decided to give my horse a fair shot at them in two different ways. The first is to get my new favorite vet to take a comprehensive look over his hind end. I know the hocks are a problem (and due for injections), but I want to get his opinion about the stifles as well. Once we’ve evaluated and injected all the things, I move on to phase 2 – a month of training.

Photo by Heather F
Photo by Heather F

Part of Simon’s problem with changes is that I’ve never owned or really ridden a horse that had them. I don’t know how to ask 100% correctly, and I know I make a lot of mistakes. My trainer and I have discussed in the past that he might need a few rides a week of her expertise to see if he can grasp the concept fully. I plan to do this sometime soon as we’re in a pretty dull period showing wise due to my obvious circumstances lately.

Photo by Heather F

So that’s the plan, and I’ll see what happens. If lead changes never happen, I’ll be disappointed but not heartbroken. Riding jumpers has taught me a lot and continuing to truck around the low jumpers is not a sad ending to this story by any means. Ideally I’d love to get us to a place where we could be competitive in both rings to some extent. The low adult jumpers seem light years away to me, but there’s a Take 2 Thoroughbred hunter division in our local A shows that’s 2’9″. For whatever reason, that seems attainable to me.

Photo by Heather F
Photo by Heather F

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but I’ll give it my best shot. Not ready to give up on the hunter dream quite just yet.

24 thoughts on “Can’t Kill the Bug

  1. Go for it!! Do things that make both of you happy. Granted I don’t know a lot about H/J land, but I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive.

    I think I’m a bit of a similar boat with my pony – I’ve got the bug for eventing, but she’s tiny and will only be able to go so far and she’s still gaining confidence on XC. She’ll only be able to jump so big and maybe she’ll never even be confident enough to jump to her fullest potential XC, but she’s super game in stadium and has some talent for dressage so even if we can only go a certain ways at a full 3-phase at least we can still do 2-phases or just stadium or just dressage and that will make her happy I can still putter around at elementary XC.

    Maybe you can do the jumpers for Simon and hunters for yourself and along the way maybe Simon will begin to excel at hunters too!

  2. I love it! That sounds like a totally fair, reasonable and rational plan. Why not explore every opportunity to make it work for you and SimonPants? I look forward to hearing how it goes!

  3. You know Bobby will always be here waiting to tote you around the hunter ring whenever you want if Simon decides jumpers R lyfe. He makes the strides (and sometimes even leaves one….or three…out), and he has auto changes over jumps. This is a MUCH better solution than making me do more hunter shows! There’s a local show this Sunday. Your first class ticket to Rochester is in the mail.

  4. I’ve changed disciplines entirely and I still feel a longing for the hunter ring and can’t quite bring myself to sell my hunter show coats yet so I totally relate to this.

    Also, Tucker’s lead changes took many years to become reliable. And oddly enough switching to dressage was the thing that made the biggest difference, he needed more strength back there and going around like a hunter just doesn’t build hind end strength. So doing the jumpers and more flat work will likely help a lot with Simon.

    I full support your HP dreams. I will always be an HP at heart.

  5. Sounds like a great plan to me! 🙂 I’ve had two horses that were total naturals at lead changes, so I didn’t so much “put them on” as just polish them a little. The one who wasn’t a natural, well, that didn’t happen. Hopefully your trainer is able to smooth things out. There’s really no reason why Simon shouldn’t be competitive in both rings at this level.

  6. Do what you like and makes you comfortable ! If you don’t place quite as well who cares! If you tell Simon he did good, he doesn’t care what color the ribbon is.

  7. Definitely do both! And I love your idea of a month of full training … your trainer is super awesome and I bet Simon will catch on quickly!

  8. I’m sort of the opposite (jumper land looks fun! And colors! Less restricting clothing! Less objective!) but I just wanted to say my guy and I have issues with both lead changes and getting the numbers (and he’s not a typical hunter horse) and we still show in hunterland. Granted we don’t do A shows or anything but at our last show we did the adds and simple changes and still managed to get some ribbons in our hunter classes. So, do what you want to do – no reason not to do both in my opinion so long as you’re happy!

  9. Ooooh, yes, do the Take 2s!! I need to look into that myself.

    I am the opposite of you–the hunter ring turns my tiny brain into mush and I hyperventilate. Jumper ring, it’s cool.

  10. I’ve been a jumper rider my whole life, but harbor hunterland dreams – which is what sent us to the dressage ring to solidify our connection and smooth out changes!

  11. Sounds like a totally reasonable goal and an excellent plan to chase it. I will look forward to watching it unfold. 🙂

  12. Sounds like a good plan to me! I struggle with lead changes, too. Gina came with them (and is a little overzealous about them, which makes some dressage things difficult), while I’m starting to suspect Moe is willfully ignorant about them.

    Regardless whether you find success back in hunterland, you know you’ve got the jumpers!

  13. We have major lead change issues too, so recently I have gone to a couple small shows and done 2’6″ jumpers (optimum time) instead of hunters. For me it is so much less stressful when I don’t have to worry about leads! The crazy thing is when I go back and watch the videos he often does great lead changes automatically with no input from me whatsoever. It is frustrating because obviously what I’m doing to ask for the lead change is causing him NOT to change his lead. Ugghh!

  14. Hunter land is a legit virus. Like, I know I should want to do the jumpers (if I had the right horse), but gosh, something about that perfect hunter round just makes me grin like a fool. So go for it! Worst case scenario, you switch back!

  15. You should def. try if that’s what will make you happy. Are you having a hard time putting changes on at all or putting auto-changes on? I totally second the whole get the trainer to do them. Growing up riding at a hunter jumper barn, all the horses had to learn changes and auto changes and it was just installed by the trainers in a few weeks. I learned how to train them at one point, but it’s one of those things that someone who knows how to train them can do soooo much more easily. If I needed them, I would totally farm that chore out.

  16. I definitely think that you could play in both rings and be successful! The lead changes will only solidify that, which sounds like something your trainer is ready to rock out on.

  17. Honestly I relate. I haven’t been a hunter in a long time (and arguably was never very good at it) but there’s nothing quite like the inviting simplicity of those courses and focusing on making them nice. In fact when I set the course for our recent schooling show, it took me a minute to realize I had set a glorified outside inside outside course. And then watching Bali do it made me wonder if he would like to be a hunter… Anyway good luck w the injections and changes!!!

  18. Ha, I have totally the opposite mentality. Once I get going in a jumper class I’m so busy focusing on my riding and remembering the course that I don’t have time to think about much else, but in the hunter ring I have a constant dialogue of “crap, I messed up that distance a little, please land on the correct lead so I don’t have to change MUST BE PERFECT are we going too fast NOT PERFECT WONT PLACE, shoot we were a little crooked to that jump, maybe it wasn’t too obvious??” etc.

    SO much more stressful to me! Perfection is hard haha.

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