A Fun New Game

Cadence has been getting a little touch of the spring fever as of late (nothing horrible, she just seems to have discovered her “extra energy” button – which is actually quite nice in a way, seeing as she is, by nature, somewhat lazy), so I thought I needed to do some things to keep it more interesting.

As luck would have it, the barn was empty last night, AND the weather was lovely (post thunderstorm).  These two things rarely happen simultaneously, so it seemed like a good day to try a little free jumping.  Though she’s hopped over a few jumps and little gymnastics, I think free jumping is good just for mixing things up, and keeping things fun for the horses.  It’s got its practical applications as well – teaching horses how to rate and get themselves through the jumps without the interference of a rider, building confidence, etc, but having watched other horses being free jumped and doing it a little bit, it seems like they enjoy it and come to think of it as a game.  For her I figured it would break up the boredom of ring work a bit (for real, every time I actually have time for a trail ride, the weather doesn’t cooperate! This is getting old!)

I started with piles of poles, set at one stride apart.  She immediately trotted through, leaping over the poles a little bit.  I asked her to go through another time and she trotted them much more normally.

While I reset the poles to make a little crossrail, she patiently waited for her next set of instructions.

Hey, whatcha doin’ over there?

Once I set up the crossrail, she had no trouble with that either, trotting over it like it was no big deal, then hopping over the poles on the other side.  Except, then she stopped, really wanting to go the other direction.  She showed no desire to try to get out of work, she just wanted to go the other way, so through she went, and when she landed from the crossrail she threw in a couple celebratory bucks and squealed a little bit.  OK, now we’re having a good time!

 
I set up a second crossrail, then later raised it to a small vertical.  She never showed any hesitation though she gave it a look the first time.  And again, she reversed herself a couple times and went through the chute backwards.  I’m ashamed to admit I had really built it pretty much one-way, and there were no guide rails if she came in backwards.  But she didn’t care, and jumped right in.
 
After only a few passes she figured out exactly what pace she needed to jump from to get through comfortably.  Only one time was needed to convince her that jumping out of a huge canter was unnecessary, and indeed difficult.  After that, she self-adjusted, cantering around the ring (sometimes throwing in a big goofy buck), then coming back to a very nice trot coming in, and going through the little chute like a pro.  Her form needs some work, but she’s a beginner!
 
I also have to dig out a pair of boots before we do anything bigger (we didn’t go any higher than 2′ this time, though she’s jumped that under saddle.  The name of the game is confidence building!)
 

Seriously, she’s giving that little jump about three feet of clearance, I think.

And just because she’s purty:

I haz a big trot!

 

And, nice to see someone packing on some weight! Yay!

I also managed to get out to the the funny farm and visit all the horses on Sunday, and I had an extra hand so we were able to even hop on one of the geldings who’s been hanging out for a while and is about ready to head to retraining.  His name is Bolt, he is an ADORABLE chestnut with a big white blaze and endearing personality.  I’m thinking he’ll be headed down to CANTER South, but don’t quote me on that 🙂

Bolt doesn’t really live up to his name, and true to my first-ride experience, the biggest issue was getting him going.  But once he did, he looked to have a nice way of going, good sized stride, and pleasant demeanor.  Hopefully he’ll be shipping out and popping up on our “available now” list shortly!

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One response to “A Fun New Game

  1. Wow, she could make a really good jumper!

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