Guy, I love this horse.
I had my lesson last night and though it’s been a really rough week (it’s spring break, it should be an easy week–it wasn’t–this week has been hard work wise and I feel like I’m further behind plus there’s this whole issue of no drinkable water at my house…), but then there’s Ranger and all is right again in the world.
Seriously, I love this horse. When I started taking lessons again last summer on Batts, it was the best decision. At that time Ranger wasn’t even at the barn. Then the Ranger-type horse (the “I can do everything from beginners to 3′ horse”) was lost to a bad colic and she found Ranger. Then there was my lovely crash off of Batts, my trainer’s subsequent ride on him over fences the next lesson and her suggestion that, after having no more success than I had, a comment that it was really impressive that I rarely came off of him considering how impressive his stops actually are (which until you ride him, you can’t actually feel), and the the opinion that even if he were in full training, chances are he’d never actually be reliable (he might memorize these particular jumps at these particular heights at these particular locations, in this particular light, but the second ANYTHING changes, back to square one). Not to mention we were stressing him out. So, we made the decision to call it quits with him and not jump him anymore and let him thrive on what he does best — trails, flat work, galloping cross country in unfamiliar locations, and eventually paperchases. We stopped lessons and his whole attitude at home changed (I could catch him again whereas towards the end of lessons, my husband had to catch him for me as he’d run from me…). Now we can actually take on small crossrails and verticals as long as they’re airy and don’t have anything solid under them–that’s what messes with his brain.
So with Batty out, my trainer introduced me to her new lesson horse Ranger. In the beginning it was all about learning again to ride a horse that doesn’t stop, but now it’s just about being in love with an amazing pinto thing.
So last night we rode outside thanks to non-freezing temperatures and daylight (though we do have lights that we didn’t need to use thanks to longer days at 6:30!). We spend a good part of the lesson working on an evil combination that should have been easy but my brain said DEATH. Seriously. I don’t know why. Especially when the 5 year old pony kid can do it. Basically it was a pole to a flower box to a pole to a jump. My brain said NOOO, DEATH. So we struggled for a bit. Coming in the first time we ducked out at/after the pole since there was a nice opening. I mean, why jump the damn thing when you can skip the evil combination? And Ranger basically told me if I didn’t want to, why should he bother. I was in full agreement. There was also a nice opening to the inside where he could duck out that he took advantage of. I don’t blame him! I didn’t want to do the stupid thing!
So, to help us out, my trainer chose to stand at our opening (damnit! Now where could I skip out?) so I had a few options. Go around to the rail, run trainer over, or jump the evil combination. Well, without much speed, Ranger and I chose the combination and made it through without dying, however, it was ugly as everything should have been 1 stride but we sort of added an extra stride between the last pole and the jump. So, we continued to repeat with me trying to add leg. Eventually, we actually completed the combination the way it was to be done with the appropriate pace and striding, and yes, evil combination is much easier when done correctly. Rinse, repeat, several times.
Of course, we can’t just end there and trainer had to keep raising the final jump a couple holes. But, to be honest, the nice thing about Ranger is height doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care so why should I? As long a I actually had pace (for striding purpose to made things easy), the jumps didn’t actually matter)… So once we completed things at the planned height, we moved on.
We ended with something easy, cantering down an inside single towards the in gate and then up the outside line. Biggest challenges where to not get fast towards the gate and maintain a steady pace and then not die and get slow when passing the gate and keep going so that I could get a nice forward 6 in the outside line (I sometimes get too relaxed and then we lose our pace after the gate and instead do the add). But, this lesson that wasn’t the case. Turning the corner I managed to keep him in a steady canter to a nice spot for our canter, kept that pace through our turn, and moved him up to the 6 for the outside line instead of just sitting there for the line (because, without help he’d probably have added). Go figure, 2 weeks in a row my eye is working…
But, again, that’s because Ranger is perfect. Have I mentioned lately that I love this horse? With him, anything is possible. Jumping is fun again. And not scary (well, other than evil combination until we get through it). And I have no urge to jump other horses. Just him, because, why not? He’s perfect. He’s the best.