Post peppermint haze… Because. Candy.
As I mentioned last post, Nay Nay and I are on our own for the next 3 weeks. Free to learn a lot or make a lot of mistakes. Only time will tell which path we chose…
Prior to my trainer leaving, I asked for homework. What do we need to work on? Or rather, what should we work on? The answer? Jumps. Getting over them. First time. Getting confident.
See, remember back to that unfortunate incident of the brown boxes? That might have wrecked my confidence a bit… I’m not sure if it did anything to Nay, but me? Maybe… Since then Nay has been pretty good and has learned a LOT.
We’ve added spurs and he’s learned that when I add spur he is to go FORWARD. So, if I add them before the jump? He needs to go forward OVER the jump. For the most part, this works. But, sometimes? We die. The thing is, Nay isn’t being bad. His rider is being indecisive and NOT adding spur/leg and as a result, NOT telling him forward. Nay he then left to decide on his own, do I go left? do I go right? do I stop? do I go forward? While he CAN walk over everything, he generally doesn’t because he’s convinced he can’t because his rider is convinced he can’t and it’s a bad combo. If I’m not confident, he’s not confident… And, after one skirt around, time 2 is harder.
So, at the end of our last lesson, my trainer basically told me, I need to get over this first jump thing and fix it now before it is an issue. That’s my job for the next 3 weeks. I can set up as many small fences as I want and just repeat. He can walk**, he can trot, he can canter, but he needs to go forward before I ruin* him (*my word). ** he can supposedly walk over ANYTHING in the ring, barrels included, I disagree so we’re not trying that! LOL
Saturday it was FREEZING. Literally. But, I dragged Nay’s sorry butt out and we rode. I set up a couple of tiny fences. A single, a pole to flower boxes and decided that was good. We started off walking over everything because why not? They were tiny and Nay was stiff from the cold so it made our warm-up more interesting. Needless to say, he didn’t care. We had a lovely trot and worked over the pole and then a trailer pulled up next to the indoor right as we were about to canter bringing back a horse. In the past? Nay would be gone mentally. And while he was distracted and our left lead canter wasn’t great, I didn’t lose him. But the right lead? Best right lead canter EVER. We even had a nice circle at the canter! Seriously! Then we started our jump practice and had zero issues. We jumped everything both ways, added leg at the base (whether needed or not), and called it a day.
Sunday things warmed up some so we were back out to try it again. Nay was less than thrilled (I interrupted his morning snooze), but tough luck. He fell back to sleep in the cross ties as I decided to have a long chat but we quickly got to work in the ring where I decided to tackle my demons.
Instead of sticking to a pole and flowers, I decided we’d tackle the scary brown boxes we struggled with so much that fateful lesson. I removed the gate, but we WERE going to jump it! The single was set to a small vertical with flowers and kept it that way and I left the flower boxes as flower boxes (no pole) after the brown boxes.
Like the day before, we warmed up with a nice trot where Nay had no energy. That said, energy finally came out at the canter where he let me know his displeasure at being asked to work. Once again, our left lead sucked, but eventually, he settled into a decent enough (though very forward) left lead canter and cantered a nice enough circle. But the right lead? Once again? AMAZING. Last lesson I was told to shake my reins at him approaching the first corner to get him to keep the canter. Who the hell knows why, but ever since doing this, his right lead canter has been strong and consistent. We can hold the canter, canter circles, and his balance is improving each time out. His canter circle was super balanced too. SO PROUD!
We trotted over the small vertical once to warm up and it was super easy. The headed up to the boxes…
We casually looked at the boxes because I needed to… This wasn’t part of my homework, I admit it… But, we did it without approaching it if it makes sense? We came at it from the plain side. So, maybe we jumped it backwards, but whatever, I had a ground line, but first time up to it, he was gunning to go up and over. I added spur and without hesitation? Up and over. Next time, we WILL do it without looking at it first. We continued to the flowers and cantered out of those where he got so much praise. We repeated a few times before he got a bit lazy and almost took out one of the boxes…
Next, we did the vertical around to the in of the outside line which was a small verticle/plank. That wasn’t an issue but Nay didn’t find that one very exciting either (and barely saw a need to pick up his feet). After one more trip over his brown box line, we called it a day.
Sunday’s ride also was the first ride that didn’t include any screaming from Nay!
Following Saturday’s productive ride, I was all set for my Sunday lesson which would be my last lesson for 3+ weeks as my trainer is heading down to Gulfport with a bunch of clients for the rest of the month. So, I’m on my own until they all return.
**all videos are from Saturday**
After such a QUIET and relaxing ride on Saturday, I arrived at the barn to… chaos. I barely found a place to park my trailer (along the driveway by the field behind another trailer) and brought Nay Nay into the packed barn. Who were all these people? Answer? Pretty much everyone trying to get ready for Gulfport OR doing what I was doing–getting in a lesson prior to Gulfport. LOL. Thankfully I found a spot at my favorite crossties (there was tack there, but the rider planning to use them was actually lessoning AFTER me so I was good to go). Nay was a little less gross than Saturday and despite a zillion people in the barn, he settled pretty quickly. He LIKES people/horses/activity in the barn, just not in the ring. I also had the chance to catch up with some of my favorite barn people I haven’t seen in forever which was nice too!
Thankfully, once we headed in to ride? The ring was empty. We were joined by the next lesson but we each did our own thing. I know I need to work on riding with others, but today I wanted my lesson to be on other stuff and that it was. Plus, I needed homework. And homework I got! My trainer and I also had a chat about my opinion of my ride last week and I was reminded that it’s 2 steps forward, 1 step back and that I am constantly having good rides and I need to expect to have a few “bad” ones here and there. Manage expectations. Also a month ago I’d have considered that ride a good one. So yeah.
After Nay Nay investigated my trainer’s coat thoroughly (he gave it the sniff test because he’s a goof), we started off showing off how far he’s come with his spur training and OMG did he impress. He IMMEDIATELY responded to the right spur with NO STEPS FORWARD OR BACKWARDS and also moved over from the left spur immediately though took a step back at the same time (which was actually the worst he’s been for the left spur). Anyway, my trainer was impressed. From here we walked and applied spur to move over, check! And then applied the same lesson to the trot. SUCH A GOOD BOY! A few times he tried to move forward into the canter because he wasn’t sure and wanted to give the right answer, but if I asked again, made sure he had the space to shift over, he did just that. To the right, I was able to get the same response just by using my calf vs my spur. This horse wants so badly to give the right answer and retains everything. He lives for good boys and pats!
After a short amount of trotting, we quickly progressed to the canter and changed things up. We’ve been asking for the left lead canter in the same spot every time, but his left lead has gotten so reliable so this time around, the goal was to ask Nay Nay to canter near the in gate. This posed no issue and the left lead was pretty nice. He was forward, but not fast at all. I do need to work on not pulling out with my outside hand…
We also added in a nice large (1/2 the ring) circle at the canter. Unlike the last time we tried this, this time it wasn’t an issue at all and Nay Nay held the canter without an issue.
Before we cantered the right, Nay “spooked” at a pony butt standing outside the indoor. Pony was brought so he could see the mysterious butt but he wanted to stare (out spook was…staring). So, when we picked up the canter, we struggle a bit. When we passed the in gate, I was taken aback when he craned his head outside the circle to try and get a look at the pony butt again. This led to us losing the canter and then picking back up the wrong lead. We were instructed to KEEP GOING which we did and managed to hold the wrong lead all the way around. When we approached the in gate side, my trainer had me cut the turn a bit and shake my reins at him which actually allowed me to hold the canter. Then when we got to the far side, I finally was allowed to trot to change the lead and then did the same corner cut and rein shake before attempting a large circle at the canter. Interestingly enough, the rein shake really, really helped and the circle was great! We walked before we got back the corner and Nay Nay got lots of praise. He lives for this!
With this part of our ride over, we started with some jumping. Basically, we started by trotting back and forth over the dismantled jump location where we struggled a few weeks ago. Today it was just a few poles and some flowers, but trainer wanted to make sure there was no PTSD related to that location in the ring. Spoiler: no issues.
That said, that was the first jump in a line and heading away from the in gate, we trotted past a vertical with brown boxes a few times. As a result, once we were told to jump that jump? Nay Nay was a touch confused. First time he stopped having no idea where we were going. Second time he stopped because I didn’t really give him direction and say, yes, you need to jump this. The next couple of times we got over because I dug me leg/spur into him and said forward.
Lesson learned? I only get one first jump and I need to be definitive. We’ve done a really, really good job of training Nay Nay to the spurs right now so use them to say FORWARD. Right now he’s testing what he has to do and if I’m hesitant, he’s hesitant.
My homework for the next 3 weeks is to set up as many jumps the size of what we did and just practice moving forward over them. I need to make them small for me so that we can walk over them the first time if necessary. Now, as my trainer reminded me, technically he could have walked over everything the way they were set up on Sunday, but if I don’t believe it, he won’t. So, I’ll set them up small so I believe that we can and we’ll get over first jump-itis. Because when I’m confident, Nay Nay is confident.
Confident but bored ^^^
So much homework, but it should be fun!
I think I’m going to split this update into 2 parts because 1, I have a lot to say and 2, I have a lot of media. So, rather than making this post crazy long, I’m going to just try and have 2 sort of, kind of long posts? Let’s be real, I’m long-winded!
After my crap ride last Saturday, I took Sunday off and didn’t ride for a week (winter is hard and I worked all week). And, I’m being honest, I was nervous. A month ago? I’d probably have been pleased with last Saturday’s ride. I do need to address riding with other horses. Not being with other horses in the ring, but RIDING with other horses. Still, I need to let that go. But, due to nerves, I begged my husband to come out and serve as moral support. Now, I agreed he could sit in the truck, but I needed him there.
Despite my nerves? My mud-covered beast was a saint. Relaxed. Happy. Goofy. But completely gross. It took me about a half an hour to get him clean pre-ride and even then his tail was still mud covered… I just can’t. LOL. Anyway, enough mud, but we had a nice relaxed grooming session (barn was quiet–yay horse shows) followed by a nice ride.
As I mentioned last post, we’ve been introducing Nay Nay to spurs. Well, he REALLY gets it now. Saturday? Right spur? One step forward, one step backwards, then immediately shifted over! GOOD BOY! Left spur? Just shifted away from the spur. Such a smart guy! Then, walking he was SO GOOD about moving away from the spur. I’m SO HAPPY with him. LOVE LOVE LOVE.
At this point, I pulled Erik in to take some videos. Just what he wanted to do… LOL. We started off at the canter to the left and it was fine. I’m having this issue here and there to the left that I’m a little too passive? So I ask and Nay Nay says sure! And canters and immediately trots so I need to make sure I ask and maintain. But, the left lead isn’t our issue.
The right? It was a mess. I need to follow up with my KEEP LEG ON from the left lead AND remember to add inside spur approaching the corners. Basically, I need to stay on step ahead. Things were made a little more challenging because 1, I kept worrying about the lead when we lost the canter (It was emphasized on Sunday to stop worrying and just canter for now) and 2, Nay Nay was super focused on Erik and as we passed each time, he kept craning his neck around to see him. Granted, my lack of leg and messy hands didn’t help. But those things NEVER help, do they? LOL.
(you can really see how gross his tail was…)
Spoiler, we worked on stuff on Sunday…
Rather than ending there, I decided I wanted to jump a cross rail (and eventually a small vertical with boxes under it). The cross rail was no big deal. In fact, the first time? Lovely.
The second time? Boredom.
The boxes, a bigger deal in that they took more effort, he was tired, but not in that they caused any actual issue. He got over them each time. The first time through was in slow motion, the second time, was much better though we took the rail with us. The third? Confident and perfect. So, it’s all a timing thing and also getting used to using the spurs to say, yes, move FORWARD over the jump. This was also a topic of Sunday’s lesson. When we all feel like we can walk over? No issue. When there is a question of, “can we walk over this?” The hesitation is there. In reality, he could have walked over everything, but neither of us are sure of that…
Sunday lesson recap coming tomorrow!
After such a fabulous lesson on Friday, I had a shitty ride on Saturday.
It was bound to happy.
From the moment I arrive, Nay Nay’s brain wasn’t with me. And I never really got it collected.
My new routine when I get to the barn is to groom and tack up in the cross ties. Except, the cross ties were full so we walked down THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BARN ISLE. Brain. Blown. Seriously, you’d have thought I took him to a different country. I stuck him briefly in the wash stall before moving over to the cross ties (someone was leaving and I prefer the cross ties to the wash stall now), but, the slightly unfocused horse I arrived with was a little unsettled. Now, he’s stood in the wash stall before so who really cares, but… yeah.
This was the pattern for the day.
Everything was fine. Nay never did anything wrong. But he wasn’t relaxed either. We groomed, we chatted, we tacked up. We headed inside to ride where we were joined by 2 little white ponies. It was fine.
Except it wasn’t.
First, Nay Nay needs to get better riding with other horses. I know this. But, this day appeared not to be the day to work on this. When you start off with a horse that isn’t relaxed? Working on something he’s not great at, not great. He’s typically fine with 1 horse, but more than that? We’re not there yet. So, when the first little white pony is canter circles around us, next to us, up our butt (not quite, but almost), relaxation just wasn’t happening.
We walked and started to get there. Other white pony came it. This was a test ride so lots was happening… Rider(s) of this pony were respectful, but… still. No one was calling directions… After Nay started relaxing and stretching his head down, I figured we’d try and trot. And we did, but I couldn’t repeat the relaxation. We were tight and tense. Instead, Nay gave me a tight, up and down trot, with energy, vs a long and loose trot with the same level of energy. Energy is fine, but not when he’s popping up and down (I’m trying to say that he’s trotting, not rearing, but his head is popping up and it’s more vertical motion than a ground covering motion? I hope that makes sense!)?
After an inch of improvement, I walked. I took a few steps of progress and called it success. We walked until I was able to find that relaxed walk again. It came. Then we stood and I asked him to move left and right with the spur. The right spur took a little work but after a few spur taps, he moves right on my leg. The left leg? Immediate. So, for all the activity, he remembered that at least.
After large grey pony left, we trotted a tiny bit (it was better) and I asked tiny grey pony not to canter up our butt (tiny kid seemed confused). Kid hopped off and another trial horse came in. Nay and I trotted a few minutes more and I SHOULD HAVE CALLED IT A DAY.
But, I decided I’d wait and canter. Trial horse left and we trotted a minute or 2 more (he was fine) and then cantered. Our canter was a mess. Relaxation was gone. We couldn’t hold the canter. Leg resulted in flying heads. It was a mess. At that point, I realized, find a good point and calling it a day was the best thing I could do. I was on longer than I should have been (not that I was on long, but his brain was gone considering it was never there) and he was done. We probably got 3 nice strides and I pulled up and was ready to hop off when he started screaming for other horses.
Quit while you’re ahead people. Quit while you’re ahead.