Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gina overcomes

Three years ago when I bought Gina, it was under the assumption that she jumped. I made this assumption because her previous owners provided pictures like this:

This is not a carousel horse; this is a Gina.
Also Gina.
When I made the decision to buy Gina, I had been riding her on the flat for about a month. Why didn't I jump her? It was winter time and I was confined to an extremely small indoor arena used for therapeutic riding lessons. As you may have guessed, the therapeutic riding center was not a place where people jumped.

I just assumed that a horse who lived at a hunter barn and had a lifetime USEF registration with records of competing in over fences classes was a perfectly fine jumper.

I was very, very wrong. 

For many months (years?) I struggled to get Gina to jump anything that remotely resembled a stadium jump. There was one memorable ride where I set up a course of ground poles and my beautiful former hunter reared up at the sight of them. I didn't even have standards out. I don't know what happened to make Gina so upset at the idea of jumping.

I finally stopped trying to force my horse to do something she obviously hated. I focused on dressage; my riding improved, Gina improved, our relationship improved. But y'all, I am not a dressage enthusiast. I am a dressage tolerater appreciator.  I understand its value and don't mind working on it. I enjoy it sometimes. But I really, really like jumping.

So over the last few months, I've carefully reintroduced Gina to the idea of jumping. First over natural obstacles that had never upset her, then over tiny, tiny crossrails. Then tiny, tiny verticals. Then over slightly larger verticals.

One of my monthly goals is to jump Gina weekly. I don't want to overdo it- I mean, she's 17 and I don't want to injure her or burn her out. Sunday, I set up a few jumps in the arena: a 2' vertical to warm up over, a 2-stride line composed of a 2'6 vertical and 2'9 vertical, and some barrels. Now, the barrels are probably only 3' or 3'3, but they're metal, painted black and yellow, and look kind of intimidating.

Of course I put run-out rails on there. I'm not stupid!
I figured if we were having a good day, we'd give 'em a shot. If we weren't having a great day, who cares?

"You want me to jump what now?!"
We were having a pretty good day, although the arena was a lot more slippery than I'd originally assessed. Despite having a couple of slip 'n slide moments, Gina was going beautifully, getting pretty decent distances and not acting like a fruitcake. 

I pointed her at the barrels and she slammed on the brakes, like "Are you serious, lady?!" I was serious, so I very calmly backed her away and represented. It took a couple of times (and a couple of taps with my bat), but Gina gave it the ole college try and cleared it by what seemed like five feet.

Of course, because nothing is ever good enough for me, I pointed her at it again, and she stopped a couple more times. Then she gave up trying to convince me she couldn't possibly do it again; she sighed and heaved herself over it. I immediately patted her and hopped off and hand-walked her to cool her out.

I'm pretty proud of The G. It's been a process, but she's finally jumping (mostly) well. I'm feeling very positively about next year's show season. 

This weekend is the hunter pace (rain forced it to be rescheduled) and I'm eager to get in some XC schooling!

17 comments:

KateRose said...

Good girl Gina! I think those barrels look huge (I'm a big wimp) so I get where she was coming from haha

loveandhorses said...

Gina is so cute! Those barrels look pretty big!!!

SheMovedtoTexas said...

So interesting. I wonder what changed? Glad y'all are building back together though... jumping is too fun to stop completely :)

emma said...

nice work on getting her going over fences again! those barrels definitely look imposing to me - but then again, so does anything over 2'3" lol....

Stephanie said...

I'm not totally sure when I got my jumping mojo back, because I was about to pee my pants over 2' logs a couple of years ago!!

Stephanie said...

They really aren't, I promise! I had a couple of sets growing up though, so maybe I'm just desensitized!

Austen Gage said...

Sounds like her confidence took a pretty huge hit. Hard to say why, but your approach sounds pretty confidence-building to me!

Stephanie said...

I've been trying to figure out what's changed, too! Was she just burned out? Is she like "oh thank god, a break from dressage"? Have we forged some kind of majikal bond??

Stephanie said...

The Hand Gallop training philosophy: just ignore the problem until you don't feel like ignoring it any more and it will fix itself!

Stephanie said...

I think all the little XC outings over the years has helped her tremendously! She always went well over natural obstacles and I think the little combined test back in October boosted her confidence a lot. (It certainly helped me too!)

Karen said...

go Gina! Those barrels are definitely spooky looking!

T said...

Way to go! Gina is super cute :)

Madeline C. said...

I would've peed myself too if you told me to hop those barrels. Brantley can walk over a 2' vertical and I still feel like I'm popping over a 6' brick wall. You're so brave and Gina is so good to trust that you'll take care of her.

L.Williams said...

Yay Gina!

Ash said...

Whoo! Go Gina! I'm a newer reader but I did some back reading and not being able to jump would break my heart. I'm glad she's trying it for you!

eventer79 said...

Here's to overcoming!!!! Best. Feeling. Ever. Although I also profusely enjoyed that first sale photo...so much awesome, I almost have no words....

Aoife said...

Woohoo Gina!!!!
I was so happy for you when you shared the barrel pic on insta ☺

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