Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bad habits die hard

Last week, I left work early to run some wedding errands; I finished those with plenty of daylight, so I headed to the barn with the intention of jumping Moe. There's only so many rides in a row I can dressage. I brought Moe some Paddock Cakes (Banana Bites flavor), of which he was a fan.

He tried to fit his tiny cob sized head in the jar.
I set the jumps fairly low- all between 2' and 2'6. My plan was to work on Moe's tendency to gleefully gallop headlong to and from fences; this leads him to jump flat and sometimes knock rails in show jumping. 

Making a big effort over a beginner novice jump.
Spending a lot of time jumping Gina has really helped me improve my technique and my eye. Gina requires her rider to have quiet hands and a supportive leg. She also stays in a regular rhythm (most of the time), which enables me to 'see' a distance more easily. I've learned not to pick at the horse before a fence, and I've been working on using an automatic release instead of a long crest release. 

Applying these concepts to riding Moe was difficult! Moe's jumping technique hasn't changed much in the last few years- he locks onto a fence, puts on a burst of speed, sails over, and forgets what brakes are. I could feel myself anticipate the rushing, so I'd start to pull on the reins. Moe would lean into them and keep going. We'd leave a mile away from the fence, and we sometimes pulled a rail. (Thankfully, one of the barn's minions played jump crew for me. Thanks, little K.!) 

Moe has many flaws, but I can always count on him to go over a jump, regardless of what kind of ugly distance we get. I know that he knows his job. So I put him on a 15 meter circle at the canter, just to one side of the jump. 


I made sure it was a quality canter- soft, steady, round. When we'd come around the part of the circle that made it look like we were approaching the jump, Moe threw his head up and tried to put on speed. I just kept asking for a quiet canter. Finally, Moe cantered the whole circle a couple of times while maintaining a good gait- that was went I send him over the little vertical. He still increased his speed some, but it was a huge improvement on previous attempts. For my part, I tried to stay quiet and still and not pick at him. 

After several repetitions, Moe was tired and I was satisfied with our progress. I wouldn't attempt this exercise with a horse like Gina, who has a history of running out or refusing fences. But for Moe, who knows his job a little too well, it was perfect!

What Moe thinks of a measured approach to fences.

6 comments:

Wilbur, Ellie, and Emily said...

Sounds like a great exercise!

Stephanie said...

It really worked well for him!

SprinklerBandit said...

Love that last shot of Moe!

emma said...

he is just so adorable! glad you're having fun jumping something a little different from Gina for now too, even if it means having to work on a whole different type of approach!

Stacey C said...

I'm working through the same thing with Mochi right now!

Tracy Beavers said...

Moe moe is the bestest. Even if he rushes jumps and gets flat

Post a Comment