So I never wrote about last week’s lesson and at this point I barely remember it so I’ll just jump right into this week’s lesson. But my quick note about last week was to say, Ranger is back to being 100% sound. He’s feeling good. And, as a result, he’s a different horse to ride…
Last night we were welcomed with some (relatively) cold weather for May and wind. 50s. And Ranger was feeling a little full of himself. And I guess he hasn’t been ridden much? So we started off with a forward trot… And I was told to let go of his mouth. Didn’t even realize I was holding his mouth. Usually I’m aware of these things… See, I didn’t even want to ride last night. Work is kicking my butt and I’m just stressed and done with the world. But, my husband told me to ride and I’d feel better riding so I went and I did, because, well, Ranger is Ranger and makes things better.
So, once consciously made sure I wasn’t holding his mouth, added in some trot-halt transitions mostly to see if we had any brakes. Right now, Ranger is more or less being ridden by me and one other kid with an occasional ride by another adult who more or less only rides on the flat? So, he’s not doing too much. I guess Ranger was ignoring the kid earlier this week so we started by installing brakes. Now, he pretty much always listens hacking so this wasn’t actually an issue. From here we added some sit trot circles around our log jump where I had to remember not to lean in. At the canter, again, similar stuff. Increasing pace along the sides, collecting in corners/circles, and NOT FALLING IN when we circle, specifically on the left lead. Ranger didn’t help by focusing on jump while we circled and since I didn’t balance him as well as I should have… I mean, we circled, it was just ugly. Needless to say, we had to repeat that exercise. Anyway we finished our warm up. Ranger was fine, but very focused on the gate [due to the incoming storm, everyone was in for the night so SOMEONE had a bit of an attitude about being out while his friends were all in the barn].
Jump-wise we started on the left lead cantering over our log jump directly towards the in gate, the same jump we had been circling all during our flat work. The tricky thing was not only that we’d been circling it, but also that, we had to turn in the air so that we could turn between the inside line and the outside line as the outside line was on the rail. So, basically a super tight turn. Goals: Not to drive by the jump, steady pace, plan for landing. We actually had a really nice jump and landing, with the exception of a certain pinto trying to snatch the reins from my hands approaching the fence… So, next time through, a series of tug-release, tug-release to the fence. Not so much as half halts as we weren’t actually slowing him down or changing our pace as the pace here was perfect, just minding manners… no dragging me at the last minute. Sort of successful, sort of not. We did this a few times until we finally got it (once, we broke as he finally accepted that I meant business and took it as a cue to trot..).
From here we moved on to the outside line (right lead) along the fence. First time through I was asked to canter the first jump and then HALT to ensure that I had brakes. First jump was lovely and then fail. We had 2 lovely jumps in a 7 but never managed a halt. Broken brakes. I could have cut in to ensure that I got the halt, but I figured that wasn’t smart… So next time through, goal was come in quieter (tug-release more half-halt natured) and then demand the halt. Lift his head and be firm (and harsh if firm fails). So, we came in nice and quietly with a shorter rein and landed and halted within 2-3 strides. I’m pretty sure I scared the crap out of Ranger. But he gave me a perfect halt.
Thanks to the perfect halt, we picked up the canter and this time, asked him to do the outside line in a holding 7. We came in at the same pace as the halt and the 7 was easy. We landed, kept the canter, and continued to our line, this time asking for the 6. Of course, I added JUST a bit too much leg (and didn’t take it off on 4-5-6 ) so we chipped a bit. One more time and we had a lovely 6.
From here we cantered in our white inside single (which was a simple 2’3″ vertical) and continued around to our line in a 6. Nice, easy and simple. Good boy Ranger.
We ended working on our other outside line. The deal was if I did it nicely we could end after the first time. Which is to say I think I did it 4 times? My trainer first asked if it looked too high to which I said no, it really just looks normal height. See, sometimes I have height issues with jumps. These were only 2’6″ and we’ve jumped higher but usually only the 2nd fence and not as much lately since Ranger’s been ouchy (though I’m pretty sure we did a couple week’s ago?)… Who knows. Anyway, this stemmed a conversation where my trainer was planning to tell me the line was the exact same height as the second jump in the line I was just jumping but since the height wasn’t bothering me, the pep talk appeal was useless. I have to say though, I love how quickly my trainer has figured out my brain… Telling me to do stuff doesn’t work, but coming up with appeals really does.
So the line. So much for going well. Remember our brake exercise? The goal was to teach Ranger we had brakes. But, instead it taught me we had brakes. So, coming in the first time, SOMEONE was way too enthusiastic (jumping home heading towards in game = WOOHOO). Not only did he try and launch himself, he was zig-zaggy and drunk-horse-like. But, thanks to my newfound brakes, we actually got through the line. I think I got a 6, but had I not held him, it would have been a 5. Or we would have done a fly by. So, we tried again. This time, I tried to hold more coming in but he still launched himself over the first fence and then I held too much and we got a 7… (long spot plus too much holding). Then I think we got a good spot but I still held too much for another 7. Then I think we finally got a good spot and I held for 1-2-3 and let go for 4-5-6 to have a nice 6. With that we got to end and someone was VERY happy to go inside.
Because Ranger isn’t being ridden much right now, my trainer offered to let me ride him on weekends that he’s not at shows thinking that extra rides with a competent adult with help. He probably won’t need it once it gets hot, but for now… I probably need to double check, but I’m all for extra rides on Ranger…