It was sunny and warm in Atlanta today, what a relief! I got another great ride in. I decided today was the day to start working over crossrails, and since my barn has no crossrails, I jerry-rigged one out of two lawn chairs and two ground poles. Ever so redneck, but just as effective as the real thing. Up to this point, Baron has never jumped anything except a little log out on the trail. That couldn’t even be called a proper jump; it was more of a 1200 lb bunny hop. The most he’s done up til today is trot over ground poles. So I started by leading him over the crossrail and he was fine, barely glanced twice at it. Once I was mounted, we walked over it a few times, again with no problems. He wanted to trot, so I warmed him up with some large circles. As usual he was being very naughty about pulling toward the gate so I focused on doing actual circles instead of letting him pull us over into a wierd amoeba shape. Once he was better under control and listening, I decided to try and trot over the crossrail.
This didn’t go so well. He got all antsy when we approached the crossrail and tried at the last minute to go around it. I couldn’t let him get away with a refusal, so I had to turn him around immediately and make him go over. This same scenario kept happening each time we approached the rail at a trot. Rather than letting the situation degenerate into a pulling match or a contest of wills, I tried another approach. I made him walk up to the crossrail and only let him trot when he got about three strides away. He would walk calmly up to the crossrail, take a few trot steps and then jump over like it was no big deal. No refusal, no pulling to the side, no signs of hesitation. It was fantastic and so much fun!
I’m not sure why he was so stressed about trotting up to it. It could be that he feels imbalanced or rushed or perhaps I was asking too much too soon. In any case, I’m thrilled with the progress we made today. I’m happy to let him take it slow and feel relaxed in his work. I don’t want to throw too much at him at once and I think backing off and taking my expectation down a notch was the best decision. My next goals will be:
1. Work on getting him consistently into a slow, steady trot with no pulling toward the gate. I want him to be as relaxed as the trot as he is at the walk.
2. Continue with the crossrail work until he’s comfortable approaching at the trot.
Today was the first day I officially jumped my horse! Yay!