Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Calabar says..

My horse is opinionated about things, many things.

For example, he likes to have his hay delivered (even if he doesn't eat any of it) before we do any work. Seriously. He can have had grain and carrots and even some alfalfa from me, but unless he knows his hay delivery from Peter is in his pen (best if he gets a bite or two), he is just that much harder to work with. When he has the hay, it's like he can relax and concentrate on what we're doing without arguing.

Luckily, Bar has no obvious opinion about being ridden by a mushroom.
Apparently, he is also pretty sure about the pattern of the poles and jumps and the order in which we should cross them. Even if I'd been doing it wrong in the first place.

After watching Allie and Lena the other day go over properly placed and spaced poles and jumps, I attempted to direct Calabar to first go over the pole, then go over the little jump.

"Um. No!" he said.

Arguing with 1.200 pounds is really not productive, though I did explain emphatically that I was NOT coming off again so settle down. He did, after a mild tempter tantrum.

The way he seems to like it to work is to jump high over the little jump--he clears it by a significant margin--and canter out so as to be able to completely ignore the other pole. Having to think about getting over the single pole at a trot BEFORE getting to the jump is more of a challenge. Where to put his legs, when to lift his feet... "I need momentum!!" he says.

No, you need a little momentum and a lot more self-carriage, my big brown friend.

And you aren't getting either with your head down between your knees throwing a tantrum. Stoppit.

Now after our first go-round with this, I realized that having even the little jump set up after the pole might have been a little much for him, so decided to drop the jump rails to the ground when we started the next time. Oh, and I added another pole on the ground so we could try this from both directions.

The very next time we faced the jump question, I was actually not riding. We had gone on a great trail ride the day before, so all I really wanted was for Calabar to do some light ground work to stay supple. After that, though, I thought it wouldn't hurt to play with the jumps. "Just follow me!" I said.

"Hm," said Calabar. "You've changed it. Again. Have we not discussed change? Why must things change? Just because you can trot through with your two puny legs does not mean I, with my four beautiful long legs can be nearly that coordinated." And no, he wasn't at first, but he got it at the end.

Tonight I rode and we walked over it. A lot. Then we tried trotting over it and he jumped all three FLAT objects instead of trotting. Sigh.

So then we trotted several times over a single pole. "See?" I said, "Piece of cake."

"What's cake? Are we done yet?"

We finally trotted over the three sequential poles without thumping or cantering or bucking, though it was not necessarily the smoothest it could be. That's okay. He stayed at the trot, I didn't fall off. We'll take it.

This all reminds me a little bit of Snowman, "The Eighty-Dollar Champion." His owner tried to teach Snowman the basics of jumping,  starting in the logical place of trotting over poles. If I recall, Snowman wasn't too great at that part of his training, so was sold and proceeded to jump high paddock fences just to go back to where he knew he belonged. The rest, as they say, is history.

Calabar can jump, I've felt him gather up and spring up and over. He just hasn't yet linked the poles on the ground to the jumping piece of things, but I think we'll get there. Unless he thinks it's as pointless as a mechanical cow, in which case I will have to get creative to build up his core and his balance for all things, not just jumping.

If I take Snowman's lead, I should just set up 3-footers and let go of the reins to see what happens. I really wish I were that brave.

I am not, though, so crafty training techniques will have to suffice. Calabar says he is helping prevent Alzheimer's from setting in.

He may be right at that--certainly I am never bored with the big brown horse and that counts for a lot.


Suzanne said...

Love these lines!

"I need momentum!!" he says.

No, you need a little momentum and a lot more self-carriage, my big brown friend.


lmel said...

This sounds all too familiar! Yup, got to learn balance if you're going to clear that "BIG" jump Harley. He always lets out a big grunt when he heaves up over a fallen tree. Yet I know he can do it, especially if we're heading for home.
Nice work with him, and I love his comments. He sounds like a character.