Now that we’re starting to make progress on our flat work, we need to work on the basics of our jumping foundation. Up to this point, I have been just skipping to the “fun” stuff and not working on the important building blocks. This wasn’t the worst idea since I was working on confidence issues and just jumping what I have felt comfortable with has helped.
It also wasn’t the best idea though because, while Gus now enjoys jumping, he also think it starts and ends with running as fast as he can and then pausing at the base of a jump before flinging himself over it. This cannot last, obviously. It’s a pretty horrible way to go about jumping.
So armed with the bible (Jimmy Wofford’s Gymnastics: Systematic Training for Jumping Horses), I went out to the barn Thanksgiving morning.
We just started at the beginning. Four trot poles to a vertical, one stride to an oxer. And, of course, not all at once. Everything started as poles until we were going through smoothly, add the vertical, then the second jump, etc. You know how it goes.
It helped immensely. Gus stopped running to the fence and actually started using his brain.
I did find one very obvious problem that needs to be fixed.
Like the fact that I still seem to be heavily favoring my left side. It’s ridiculous. I’m not sure how I didn’t fall off, I’m leaning so badly. You know, I noticed while I was going through this exercise that Gus was drifting left… guess I found out why.
We had to go through the exercise quite a few times. Some of this was because of green horse problems (like the time (or two) that Gus actually tried to trot over the vertical). But mostly, I was having problems really riding every step. I was giving up half way, hoping that Gus would figure it out and save my ass.
The lucky-for-my-ass part was that he did save it, multiple times. But he was doing it blindly and it was not pretty to watch or sit through.
Isn’t it amazing that when you actually ride the line, good things happen?
While Gus isn’t the natural jumper that Dandy is, I’m feeling really good about him developing into a competent event horse. He enjoys it, he never refuses, and he thinks. I feel safe on him.
On my end, I jumped multiple 2’6 jumps today. It has been ages since I’ve done that. And while my heart was in my throat, I loved it. I suppose it will probably be a while before that starts to feel comfortable and I’m pushing myself to 2’9, but at least I know I can get around a beginner novice course now. That’s something to be thankful for.