Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Super Pony- sort of

Somedays I swear Gus is the most bomb proof horse out there and then other days I'm cursing him for being such a ninny!!!

Yesterday I wanted to start introducing scarier looking fences to him to help build his confidence. He's been jumping around great in our weekly lessons and I decided that it was time to bring out the liverpool/ditch fence. Working with limited resources I grabbed the lattice that use to be attached to a jump pole and dropped it on the ground. I put a pole on either side to give it boundaries for Gus to judge the jump. It's not terribly wide, really- he could probably walk over it, but I didn't want it to be too massive or scary that it would cause problems. Since bravery is what we're working on, small and simple is the best way to start!

Well I built my white "liverpool" in the morning and was planning on riding in the afternoon. Of course when I headed out to the barn that afternoon there was a storm looming in the distance so we acted quickly and headed off to the jump field. At the farm there is a large population of Canadian Geese that have mated and come back over the years only to have more babies and the grownup babies to find a mate and have babies! So needless to say in 3 short years the goose population has gotten a bit extreme from the original 3... and of course the large flock of geese were hanging out in the jump field nibbling on the grass. With the coming storm, me being a bit tense because I was very carefully watching the sky for any signs of lightening or the onset of the storm, the wind blowing a bit, and a much cooler temp, Gus was feeling quite up and had a bit more of a bounce to his step. I was ready for Gus to jump 10 feet in the air and what does he do? Absolutely nothing. He just calmly walks by the white lattice liverpool thing and when we started trotting and the geese started running and taking off he never changed his pace but kept on going. At one point I pointed him towards the middle of the flock and trotted into them to disperse them out of my field (they really were in the way) and as they took off running and flapping their wings before taking off into flight Gus did nothing. I don't think he even cared that they were in the same place we were, he just kept on trotting. By this point the storm was getting closer so I pointed him towards the x I set up to get him in jumping mode and he jumped that like an old pro and then we headed off to the lattice pool and he trotted over it like it'd been there 100 years. No big deal, so we cantered over it and again, no big deal. At this point I saw a flash of lightening so we quickly headed back to the barn and I gave him the biggest hug and pat and told him how fabulous he was. The geese alone made me realize how awesome my horse really is and that one day in the future he could make a great kid's pony, but this is in the way distant future because I am enjoying him way to much!!!! Though now that I know he'll jump lattice, I'm on a mission to find a blue tarp for the real liverpool training to begin!!!
So Gus was the super star, geese chasing, lattice jumping pony yesterday and then today he went back to OMG man. I call his panic moments OMG b/c I can just imagine him saying "OMG it moved!!!" or "OMG what is THAT????" or any variation starting with OMG! He always perks his ear forward and stops or sidesteps around going "OMG OMG OMG it changed". Today was no exception! We had a jumping lesson this morning over at Bill's place and Bill is always changing the jumps around- either for a new exercise or just to give the horses new things to look at. Well the past month Bill had two boxes set up on the different diagonal lines- one set of boxes had a Australian flag on one side and a sun on the other. The other boxes had bricks and stones painted on the different sides. Well Bill had moved the boxes into the bottom two corners of the arena and as we were walking around starting our warm up, Gus spies the flag/sun boxes and went "OMG it moved!!!". He stopped moving forward and I had to kick him on where he proceeded to side step around and kept looking at it. So immediately as soon as I got him past the boxes I turned around and headed back towards them. Gus was still alert and we walked over to them where he proceeeded to sniff them and then I asked him to trot and he trotted calmly past them both directions. He was looking at the boxes, making sure they wouldn't move, but I was happy with him moving forward and only glancing at them with one eye. After a pass each direction Gus stopped looking and we ended up having a great lesson.

It can frustrate me at times when Gus freaks out at the silliest seeming things and other times I think he's going to be naughty and he could care less. Once he figures out what's going on he's the best horse in the world and isn't bothered by a thing, but I can't help but wonder what he's going to do at an event. I can only school so much at a new location and it's not like they're going to allow me to take him into the sj arena or out on xc for him to look at all the jumps. I know that this is where schooling at various locations over cross country and sj courses or taking him to schooling horse trials is going to be the best but right now the funds are a bit lacking while I search for a full time job. It's really annoying that all it takes is money and time to go out and do what I need to do for Gus but right now I don't have much of either!!! With fall show season coming up I looked up various schooling shows and events to take him to and I can't make it to a lot of them because I have something else planned- like a wedding or a work weekend. So sadly Gus gets booted to the back of the list and I continue to think of scary things for Gus to jump at home. But hopefully this'll mean he won't be as spooky when we finally do head off to the shows and a loose goose happens to fly across the ring we're riding in....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sitting on the ground

When one person falls off it is funny, when two people fall off at the same time it is hysterical!

The other day my friend Kristen and I went on a trail ride to clip the branches in the way. Both of our horses are pretty quiet and will stand when told. So off we headed with clippers in hand to tackle those stupid branches (especially the ones too thick or green to break and just pop back into place!) We left the barn with the clippers closed and holding it out to the side. As we approached the trail Kristen says to her horse "Byrd don't dump me with these clippers in hand"-famous last words. Just 20 feet into the trail our first branch stuck out taunting us as only a branch can do. I smile and say "Our first branch of the day!" and just as I start to lean over, about to open the clippers, I hear something rustling in the woods and then Byrd jumps forward causing Gus to jump sideways and me with out a hope and a prayer (since I was already leaning off to the side) fall on my butt in the middle of some prickly plants! Gus meanwhile was just standing there all non-chalant and looked at me like "What are you doing down there?" I somehow rolled over and picked myself up out of the sticky brambles and looked over to where Kristen was standing holding her horse. We both looked at each other like why are you off? And I asked "Did you jump off or Fall of?"
"I fell off- what about you?"
"I also fell off-hahahaha!!!" We both starting laughing at the absurdity of our funny little equines and then decided that today wasn't going to be a good day to go clip tree branches! So back to the barn we headed (without any mishap) and took a few laps around the front field with the tree clippers sitting quite peacefully in the barn.

So with that note I will leave you with some hilarious clips via the great place that is youtube :) Fall # 5 felt oddly familiar after the failed trail ride with both Kristen and I finding our way to the ground at the same time... ;)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back to the Basics

There's nothing quiet so humbling as a jumping lesson. Today I had a lesson with Gus and it wasn't bad, but it feels like I screw up every time I jump him. Either not enough leg, or I race him to the jump, or I drop my leg over the jump, bla bla bla. But the worst part is I know NOT to do this!!!! And yet I still do it and the jumps never get any bigger...

It's hard bringing up a horse that needs to go slow. Gus has confidence issues that he's working through brilliantly, but if I rush him he can easily get scared. So while some people take a horse thats never jumped and 3 weeks later are jumping 3'6"- I can not do this with Gus. He use to be scared of his own shadow and with the time that I've put into riding him, and honestly fixing his ulcers, he's become a new horse.

But this waiting around is killing me! I want to take him to an event and see how he'll go, but I don't want to take him and possibly shake his confidence. What's worse is I feel like my bad jumping is preventing us from moving on quicker! So this lesson today was a great look at getting back to the basics and helping me become a smoother rider. I tend to over or under ride, and I'm looking for the happy medium.

Ok Things Trainer says:
1) Squeeze or squeeze harder (aka keep your leg on ALL the time!)
2) Leg on over the jump (aka Keep it on!!!!)
3) MORE leg (aka stop dropping your leg!)
4) Leg to the base (aka why did I see air between your leg and the horse?)
5) Ride forward (aka get your booty in gear and GO!)

I've gotten lazy with my leg from always having a horse that was forward to the jump and now I'm paying dearly for it! So I keep remind myself that this is only going to make me a better rider and Gus a better horse! So basic training, here we are!