So we had our first private jump lesson with the yard owner…
Drifter was not in the mood.
In the school before the lesson as I did the pre-mounting tightening and checks he had a grumpy demeanor and the yard owner/instructor asked what his problem was. His problem was that it was half-past-dinner and because of the lesson he hadn’t been fed yet. Neither me nor my horse are at our best at half-past-dinner if we haven’t been fed. As I often end up riding at this time and feeding him late I barely registered it, so I was interested that she did – she’s very tuned in. She doesn’t know him, and he wasn’t misbehaving (he was standing still without needing to be held as I took off my jacket and his rug) but she still picked up on it enough to ask what the issue was.
Up I got and off we went. The warm up went well and I got a lot of useful position advice, etc. After a time we were ready to try a jump. I was told to come in trot … and D decided we would go around the jump to the left.
Again, shorter reins, more impulsion.
We went around to the left.
Again, with instructor standing to left of jump.
We went around to the right.
Again, and mean it.
Back round to the left.
Repeat until instructor loses patience with naughty horse.
I get off.
She gets on.
Let battle commence!
Instructor demands obedience. Grumpy horse says no.
Instructor demands carrying himself properly. Snorty-cross-pony says no.
Instructor demands he stop leaning on the left rein. No, no, no.
They fight it out a few times round the school… *
Until he finally realises it is going to be easier to submit. Suddenly he is going like a fine dressage cob – in an outline on the bit without even the slightest tension on the reins. Pretty pony!** Once this has happened on both reins, she takes him over the jump a few times. Suddenly he has remembered which choice he’s supposed to make between over and around.
She gets off, I get on.
And we go over instead of around. It was not always pretty, but it was always over rather than around.
I did feel that he had shown me up, rather, but it will be years before I’m able to fight with him like that. I don’t have the strength and I don’t have the experience. It was interesting to see that he knows full well how to carry himself when he is properly reminded. I wondered previously if his dressage training might have been rather minimal but recently I’ve suspected he knows more than he’s letting on (I’m pretty sure the reversing he tried when I wanted a halt the other day was a proper rein-back rather than random walking backwards). It’s nice to know he has more potential than I feared but embarrassing to find out how little of it I’m capable of bringing out in him.
l suppose I’m feeling quite mixed emotions about the lesson. On the one hand we have the negatives that l couldn’t convince him to go over in the first place and I’ve never got him going anything like as well as that; on the other the positives that we probably almost doubled the number of times I’ve ever jumped, I didn’t fall off, he is obviously very capable & I got some good position tips.
That’s more positives than negatives. So why do I not feel happy? I think I’m disappointed that I’ve made so much progress recently but now feel like it was a false peak – I though once I got us reliably cantering in 2 directions I’d be standing on top of the world. But apparently this is just a foothill and the mountain I hadn’t seen before is blocking out the sun. Ignorance was bliss and now I feel cheated.
It’s just paranoia but I can’t help wondering if the mountain climbers are sniggering down at me and my tiny hill. Maybe they are, but they are of no significance anyway.
So how am I going to approach the mountain? I need to expect more of him. Quite what I do if I don’t get it I’m not sure yet, but expecting more will be a good place to start.
And while I’m doing it, I can still canter around on my hill-top in two directions. That is not to be snorted at. And the good thing about a metaphorical mountain range is that it’s OK to be in several places at once.
*A battle of wills and strength, but not of violence. There was no whip or spurs, and no bucking or rearing. Not that any of these would necessary be violent, but I hope you know what I mean.
**Note to self: that pretty picture would look even better if his mane was pulled more evenly. Take more length off towards the poll, but the rest is looking good.