Monkey-Proof Your Horse in Five Simple Steps

1- Turn and face obstacle

2- Set off at a nice trot

3- Drop your eyes and LOOK AT THE JUMP!!!!

4- Jump way ahead of the horse

5- Collapse in fits of giggles when horse has no clue what to do and stops.

Yep, that was our ride yesterday. 

To her credit, it started out very well.  We warmed up in the big jumping ring, and here is where I think Rosey really shines.  Back when Klondike was with us, he went very well in enclosed, defined spaces.  But when you brought him into the big ring, he wiggled around a lot and just seemed lost.  He would drift like crazy, and look at things more (not in a bad way, it was just like he didn’t know what to do with all that space).  Rose treats the big, fenceless ring exactly the same way she treats the small one.  Could not care less (except that there are new horses to look at turned out nearby).  She may get a little quicker as there’s more space to gather steam, but all in all, the different venue? Not a problem.

After playing for a few minutes there, we went on a little mosey again (not the original plan, but it’s hard to say no when you’ve had a bad day).  This time we tried going to the jumping trail.  It’s a fabulous, very short section of trail that has about 8 jumps in a row.  The first is a log, where you can choose-your-own-height as it is much smaller on the right than the left.  The next few are some very tiny logs and piles-of-sticks, and then there are several slightly larger obstacles, all set about 2-4 strides apart.

Rosey brought up the rear going up the hill to the jumps, and though she sort of stumbled her way across the first, she landed cantering and then cantered out over the others.  All but one were pretty perfect, and I’m really impressed with the way she jumps (when she jumps, that is… more on that in a bit).  I’m not the most “feeling” rider when it comes to jumping- things tend to come up quick and by the time my mind registers that we are taking off, I’m usually in the process of landing.  So it’s hard for me to sort out the mechanics of the whole thing, or really describe how it’s going.  But in Rosey’s case, she has a very neat jumping style that you can feel quite well- her shoulder rises up and she really lifts in front of you quite nicely.  It’s a cool feeling, and not one that I can recall ever feeling before.  Klondike jumped very smoothly and levelly, and my own horse just launched over everything like a cannonball when he started jumping.  My memory prior to that is fuzzy, so I’ll just stop trying to compare now.

After we came out of the woods, we tried another little jump, a small stone wall with a plank over it that connects two fields together (it’s in the middle of a little stand of trees, it sort of funnels you in and is quite inviting).  From one side it’s very small- 2′ maybe. From the other it’s slightly bigger, and I think that’s the side we jumped from.  Her first time over was perfect- she broke into the canter about four strides out and lifted over it with her amazing shoulder action, and cantered off like she had been doing it her whole life.  We did it again, and it wasn’t quite so perfect, but still pretty good.

After that, we moseyed back towards the farm, and this is where Rosey got her lessons in dealing with a Monkey Rider.  The tire jump.  I happen to love the tire jump- it’s a real XC style jump but it’s… well, it’s padded, because it’s tires.  So if they bumble their way into it, or if I should fall on it, you kind of just bounce off.   We took up our position following everyone else, and it felt very much like all systems were go, when she decided… “hmm, not so much” and ran out.

We tried again. Stop.

And again. FAIL!

Several times she got one leg over, and then sort of stalled out, not sure where to go.  At one point she even managed a foot IN the tire jump, twisting her splint boot neatly around her leg so the buckles were on the inside.  Oy.   She was not scared of the jump in any way, shape or form, like many greenbeans are, she just doesn’t seem to understand organizing her legs from the trot.  She’s trying, and she’s watched other horses do it… she just… doesn’t understand.

We kind of gave up on that count, and headed back to the barn.  Went down the driveway to try her over that stuff, and had the same sort of experience at a log that’s no bigger than the stuff she jumped in the woods.  There was much confusion and getting stuck on top of the log.

Not helped by my monkey riding… if nothing else, she will get out of this experience a great patience for all kinds of craziness from people, because I sure wasn’t helping her out.  I think we need one of those robot jockey things, it would probably work better!  In any case, our next step is to do some free jumping in the ring.  If she figures it out on her own, it will probably go much easier next time (she is super smart, after all!).

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One response to “Monkey-Proof Your Horse in Five Simple Steps

  1. It’s not you!! Let’s just say that early attempts at jumping at my farm do not get documented because it is hard not to look like a monkey when they have no clue and well I don’t like looking like a monkey 🙂 I have found that those who start of with this casual style make good horses for amateur riders as they tend not to get over excited and do the launch jumps 🙂 Dixie started out the same exact way as Rosey is and he has now totally gotten it which is fun. His jump is so smooth you don’t even know it happens which is weird compared to some of those who have to prove how awesome they are by overjumping by 4ft.

    What a nice mover!

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