Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Jumping’ Category

Rodney Recap

Some positives, one major negative.

Strolling – Rodney and I went for a mounted stroll in the pasture. Although we only went as far as the water trough, it was a wonderful, relaxed beginning.

The single stress came from me. When we turned to go back, he swung his head a little too near our no-climb mesh fence. I had just read a cautionary post, Saddle Seeks Horse: Avoid This Dangerous Donut in the Saddle. Horses getting entangled was on my mind. I thought ‘Eeek, he’s going to get his bit caught and freak’. He didn’t. I eventually calmed down.

Later we went for a group hand-walk all the way around the field, twice: me, Rodney, Milton, and the dog. It was chaotic. I told him to deal. He did.

Standing – I got on near the barn (another new trick) walked to the middle of the ring and stood. Like a statue. Compare this to our less successful attempt in May [It Takes A Village]. He was so completely locked into park that I quit after a few minutes. Nothing more to prove.

Shipping – Rodney took a drive to Stepping Stone Farm. His first time off the property since he arrived. WHAT’S THAT? Oh, okay. WHAT’S THAT? Oh, okay. WHAT’S THAT? Oh, okay. And so on. He’s the sort of horse who would like to show at the same facility several times a season, year after year. Fortunately, this seems to be the paradigm these days.

Rodney at SSF

Jumping – I got cocky and trotted a jump. It. Was. Awful. He zoomed. I grabbed. He hurtled over. We landed in a heap. He bucked. All of these are fixable, except the last. Bucking after jumps is where the rot set in 7 years ago. First a tiny hop after a jump. Then, bigger crow-hops after smaller jumps. Then bucking and spinning without jumps. That one tiny buck tells me that, despite the small victories, nothing has changed.

Full disclosure. My groundcrew, i.e. Greg, thinks my horrendous riding made Rodney feel restricted. Could be. Being the optimistic ray of sunshine that I am about my horse career, I have to take it further. What if all this work amounts to nothing? What if there is no miracle ending? What if buying Rodney was just stupid mistake?

So, I’m back in a funk.

This version lacks toxic self-hate of Snit the First [Anatomy]. Instead I have creeping discouragement & disappointment. I have a horse that didn’t work out. Oh, well. Dreams die every day. My mood is not as deep, but is proving harder to shake. The beige plane is back.

“… the future stretches in front of me as a comfortable, featureless, beige plane filled with an endless repetition of ‘petty tasks and worthless jobs’*, occasionally to be interrupted by tragedy, and gradually descending into terminal rot.”
[For the Record] 2013
(*Terrible Trivium, demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit, from the Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster)

I know I should be grateful for beige. In many life siutations, beige would be a vast improvement. But it’s so … beige.

In the time between the up of the dressage lesson and the down of the jump, I had a handful of great days. The work-both-horses, get-to-the-gym, cross-everything-off-my-to-do-list kind of days. I felt as if I had taken the motivation pill from Limitless, only without the morally questionable side effects.

I’m trying to model that behavior even though I no longer feel energized.

When you are so excited by the new place that you forget to chew.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott


We jumped!

12″ of victory.
(Technically 11″ 1/2. Jump heights always get inflated.)

In truth, Rodney jumped and I went along for the ride. It was all his idea.

We often set up standards and a few poles for Rodney to walk over so that he doesn’t feel trapped in the sandbox. I like to start a ride on the buckle [Fifth Leg Training] to give the horse a chance to settle in, get coffee, read email, and so on.

Combine a crossrail with walking about on the buckle. Can you see where this is going?

The first time caught me completely by surprise. There was discussion of whether it really was a jump, if he truly had both front and back feet off the ground at the same time. The second time, I was better prepared. We came out of the corner, stayed straight, kept a nice walking rhythm, got to the base, whereupon Rodney said, ‘You know Boss, this is gonna be easier if I jump.’

Over we hopped. Neat as you please.

As with our few steps of dressage [Lesson], reporting that my awesomely talented horse jumped a tiny crossrail is several shades of pitiful. I don’t care. I’m THRILLED. It was my first jump in way, way too long.


Rodney is unimpressed with my efforts at documentation.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

New Equipment: Stirrups Up

U is for Up. If you are joining me from Blogging A To Z, welcome! Since the blog is already daily, with topics for each day [About: Schedule], there is no specific A To Z theme. I may even skip a few letters. Gasp. Clutch the pearls. The goal for this year is less crazy, more visiting. [Ze State of Ze Blog 2014]


Jumping Stirrups!

I raised my stirrups!

Wintec saddles [Equipment] come with their own style of stirrup leathers. Therefore, I had to buy a shorter ones rather than adjusting the ones I had.

I haven’t had that much of my lower leg on a horse since Previous Horse. (I pass quickly over the handful of jumps I did with Roscoe, Rodney’s initial name [Square One].) Saddle seat is all about the thigh and the knee. Occasionally, I have to use my calf when a horse needs extra motivation *cough*Sam*cough*, but the ideal saddle seat equitation position is one’s lower legs out to the side like pontoons on a seaplane.

We inch inexorably forward.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Motivating Me

What gets you going?

A friend of mine tells stories about a trainer who would yell at challenge his students, causing them to dig deep and excel. This would not work on me.

If yelled at, I collapse like wet toilet paper.
If likely to be yelled at, wet toilet paper.

Back in the dark ages, I was a working student. I was a terrible working student. At the end of my stay, we had an small, at-home, jumper show. Everyone assumed I would enter 2′ 6″, the lowest level. I rode in the 3′ middle level & won second with a stellar jump-off. Whereupon the BNR asked incredulously why I hadn’t ridden that way in the preceding months. Well, possibly because we had one lesson where you ranted at me so hard you lost your voice. In fairness, I can see why it happened. I was a hot mess. However, justified or otherwise, it was not an effective strategy.

A month later, I was back home at a basic boarding barn. The frog/pond ratio had altered dramatically. The little girls were in awe of my fancy horse. Suddenly, I was jumping four feet.

Stand in the middle of the ring and tell me I’m terrible; I will believe you.
Stand in the middle of the ring and tell me I’m wonderful; I will believe you.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Another Voice Chimes In

Not all of my inner voices are vicious [Inside My Head, Time Management]. One is courageous to the point of stupid.

So there I was, watching a very good rider have a come-to-Jesus meeting with a fancy suit horse. Thought popped into my head:

Inner Voice: I could ride that horse.
Me: What?! You barely know how to ride a Saddlebred. You think you can school on one?
Inner Voice: Yup.
Me: Just because he is the same color as Sam doesn’t mean he goes like Sam.
Inner Voice: I got this.

I haven’t heard this voice for years. Last time, I was checking out a Baby Novice cross-country course, back when I thought Rodney & I might need the information. Walking past a Preliminary fence, I suddenly had the thought, I want to jump THAT one.

The voice has been know to write checks that my body can’t cash.

8) “Having trouble with your horse? Here let me try.”
[10 Reasons To Wear A Helmet]

OTOH, it’s the same voice that finally got me riding the Opinionated Jumper Mare after seven years of waffling. [Yin, photo]

She was so reliable, I remember coming out of a corner for a fence on the diagonal and knowing, with iron certainty, exactly where she was planning to put her feet 6 strides away.
[Bucket List]

Let’s be clear. I have no desire to ride the misbehaving suit horse. If handed the reins, I would run screaming, or fall over in a faint. My inner voice is delusional. But, it’s nice to know she’s still in there.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

10 Reasons To Wear A Helmet

1) “Dear Daddy: I fell off my horse at the camp show. Don’t worry, I can move my arm now.”

2) Getting assigned the schoolie who only goes bareback.

3) If a horse jumps but does not clear a large, unsecured hay roll, then the hay, the horse, and the rider will roll.

4) Jumping a fallen tree. Failing to clear a low-hanging branch of a non-fallen tree on the other side.

5) Jumping a fallen tree. Getting a toe caught on part of the tree halfway over.

6) “Sorry, I’m late for my class. My horse fell over in warm-up.”

7) When your horse says, ‘Oooh, I don’t like that jump. Very dangerous. You go first.’

8) “Having trouble with your horse? Here let me try.”

9) There appears to be a horse lying on my leg. That can’t be good.

10) Hanging on during a bucking fit. Then a stirrup leather breaks.
One K logo

Written for a contest by One K Helmet. Winner announced on their Facebook page on May 20, 2016. Didn’t win. At least I got a blog post out of it.

All of these happened to me, from my first fall off of Wind Chimes in the late ’70s to my dumping by Milton in the mid ’10s [Universe]. There have been many more, including two more horse falls. I picked the ones with the best WTF factor.

Of the 10 falls, four were jumping, six on the flat. Three involved the horse falling as well: one jumping, two on the flat.

Of the flat falls, two were horse stumbles (one horse stayed up, the other flopped over [Helmet Evangelism]), one was rider error, one was a horse wiping out on a corner, two were bucking fits.

The flat falls happened at the walk, trot, canter, and buck.

The jumping falls happened before the jump, over the jump, and after the jump.

Every ride. Every time.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Combined Driving Lesson, Cones

Greg spent his lesson time practicing jumper courses cones.

Similarities between Jumper Courses & Cones Courses
The course is a pattern of numbered obstacles, which can include combinations, grouped together as A/B/C/D.

Each obstacle is marked with a number and red/white flags. (Oddly, I’ve never found this to help while riding. Actually checking the number/markers never occurs to me while aboard. Helps with the course walk.)

You walk the course beforehand. (If one is having a lesson, one drives the course in a golf cart. No such luck at a competition.) You want to walk the same line you will drive/ride, and then sometimes you decide that a different approach will be better. So you walk it again.

Courses have turns, roll-backs, off-set lines, and so on. Courses can be easy or hard. A well-designed course can be both challenging and fun.

Smooth and efficient looks slower but ends up being faster than racing and jerking.

Optimum time is determined by course length. Exceeding the time adds penalties.

Going off course equals elimination. Excessive use of the whip can be grounds for elimination.

Course designers take advantage of horse psychology: being distracted by things outside the ring, knowing where the in-gate is, etc.

Horses look for the next obstacle.

Twenty cones pairs versus 10 to 12 jumps.

Grooms are permitted for single horse, and required for pairs & fours. While on course, grooms may not move around the carriage, or provide any verbal assistance to the driver (i.e., no shouting “WTF? You forgot to go through #14!”). (And thus why they are designated as “grooms” for cones, and not “navigators”, which they are for marathon.)

3 penalties for dislodging a marker ball (sitting on tip of cone).

Fewer refusals. More mashing of the obstacles.

No jump-off. But overall course time is considered a tie-breaker when penalty points are equal.

The cones must be a specific distance wider than the cart. If the carts are different widths, the cones must be reset. At the schooling driving show we watched last summer*, the cones changed after every. single. competitor. Since one has to bend down to adjust cones, this wears out the help. Much more work than the occasional knockdown of a jump pole.

Navigator's POV

Navigator’s POV

Thank you to Kate Bushman & Lyricc

(*Despite – or perhaps because of – lots of photos, I never got around to posting about this.)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

Milton purple

That moment when … you realize wiping off the Blu-Kote was a bad idea.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott