Friday, December 14, 2012

Rodeo/jumping lesson

Continuing with my Annie is being awful grumpy observation I think I've gotten to the bottom of it. 

I believe that when I was asking her to maintain her contact going into the canter I made a fatal error of not being firm enough when she'd buck into the canter.  Yes, it was her expressing her confusion and displeasure for the task, but I let it go along too far.  I started trying to avoid her bucking by watching her for "mare face" and then not pressing the issue.  Slaps self.  It moved to not cantering at all, going forward, or going on the bit.  Any kind of forward I've asked for recently has resulted in snarky mare ears and really asking has gotten me some bucking. 

I have learned that once a bad habit always a bad habit.  Annie came with the baggage of bucking and sulking to get out of bad riding and that is the bad habit she will fall back on when she is allowed. When I was restarting her last winter she bucked A LOT but I stayed with it and she got over it.   The real break through then was a winter jumping lesson with LAZ where I had to incur the wrath of my instructor or put my leg on no matter how hard she bucked.  I learned that I could stay on AND she'd get over herself and go forward.  I guess this was a lesson I needed to relearn because when I started backing off insisting she go forward a month ago she totally had my number.  It's not like she WANTS to unload me, but being knocked around in the saddle doesn't exactly make one feel safe.

I decided to have a jumping lesson on Thursday to see if all the flat work was part of the issue, and if she'd go more forward jumping.  The answer was....yes and sort of.

She was quite fresh and spooky but she knew what was going on so she was well behaved.   She warmed up really well over a single fence and over a one stride.  She happily went forward in the canter and was working on contact. Then we started to work on a gymnastic which we had to canter in around the corner, over a placing pole, over the fence, then over another placing pole.  Annie's steering at the canter isn't the best so I was having a hard time keeping her cantering especially having to steer after the fence on the diagonal and then come off the rail sort of straight to make the fence.  Rachel got firm with me and I really had to put my leg on and steer hard.   Combined with the jump being set out of her new "in this corner if you ask me to go forward I shall buck" and me backing off my leg to prevent her from bucking in that corner it got a little dicey.  I think that we were very entertaining to watch.

We got it done, and by got it done I mean that Annie can buck all the way to a fence, jump it in good form, then buck after and by the end we were both sweaty messes.  Then I went home and thought about it.  I'm not sure what Annie thought about. 

So tonight I rode and I made it my mission to not take no for an answer.  She was going forward no matter what.  We both worked really hard, Annie bucked, and I whacked. In the end I was huffing and puffing but I got some lengthened trot from her down her bucky side so I consider it a small victory.  She was also working on the bit not as nice as before but nicer then she had been. 

So back to boot camp next week and maybe I will find that my hips don't ache quite so much and that we can work on some more fun stuff like sidepassing and haunches in. 

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