Crazy Opinionated Jumper Mare [pictured here and here] learned like lightning. She could scope out the height of an entire course as she trotted through the ingate. The only time I ever felt her unsure of a fence height was at an evening show. The ring was covered, the lights were low-power, and the sun was setting. Result, funky illumination. I could see the jumps. She could see the jumps. I didn’t realize that she didn’t have a grasp of the fine details until we were on course. She could see the standards. She could see the poles, kinda. Her solution was to clear the standards and assume the poles would pass under her hooves. Wheee-ha! Other than that, she was always aware of her surroundings.
Previous Horse never got the idea that jumps could be raised. We would jump a course. My jump crew would reset the fences. We would follow the jump crew around as he set the fences. We would pick up a canter, head toward the fence, and it would come as a complete surprise to the horse that the jumps had changed.
Rodney needs to go back to kindergarten. Always. Every time. When a horse (person, dog, ferret-in-training) has a good day, a trainer has three choices: increase the exercise, stay the same, drop it down. Since he appears to have anxiety issues, asking for more is out. I keep thinking that asking him to repeat what he has just done successfully would build his confidence. Nope. No matter how calm he appears, we have to go back to simple, simple, simple. The parallel in jumping would be if we schooled 3’6″ – a dog can dream -, we would have to drop back to trotting cross-rails on the buckle to reestablish a baseline. I suspect this will always be the case. I suspect I will always be relearning this lesson.
Gratuitous Cat Picture