Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Hire teenagers while they still know everything

Highly entertaining lesson today :) Or @ least I found it to be -- I'm sure my coach rolled his eyes more than once *g* I probably would've.

Background is simple -- Sienna has recently turned into a teenager. A little bit of a late bloomer since she should be almost done being a teenager, but sobeit :) hahaha On Tuesday she had a complete meltdown for absolutely no apparent reason. 2h later I had finally found her brain and we finished at about the place we would usually start. The next day she was zonked (geee can't imagine why!) so we took it easy and stretched a little. Day after that we were able to work but she was still clearly a little tired.

Then we have today. And she's feeling good again. And she's still a teenager *g*. Flat work was excellent. Through and connected and soft and willing. She was really trying. I'm having a bit of difficulty w/ her dropping behind the vertical, but that's not disobedience or attitude it's just a bad combo of conformation and lack of understanding -- so we're working on it.

Anyways -- the jumping exercise my coach built was a take off on the zig-zag. 4 fences on the center line. The ones between A and X form a greater-than and the ones from X to C form a less-than. But w/ just enough space to ride between the two at either end if you wanted to. So the lines (in a 20x40 arena) are basically K-B and E-M; then fences at each of G and D on the other angle. (for those who are now TOTALLY lost -- the arena letters are here)

The K-B line was built over the mounting box -- insta A-frame. hahaha I was amused at that anyways. The E-M line was a square oxer. The other two were just really simple verts. All were low -- 2'6 range. So we trotted over everything to warm up as my coach was setting up the course -- and Sienna was great. We've mastered the art of trot fences.

So then the exercise is trot first fence, land in canter, ride a circle that goes between first and second fence (in nice pretty canter), jump second fence (calmly), change direction. (ie start left rein, change direction over D jump, canter a 15ish-m circle right, then jump K-B fence, land going left). No problem right. Then we remember that my pony has become a teenager. And teenagers know everything. And MY teenager knows that if you are jumping and you canter a turn that there's even the remotest possibility might line you up with a fence, you jump that fence. This has recently become a bit of an issue because she'll pick up a fence and decide we're jumping -- even on dressage days! So I've been working on that a lot in our flat work and it's been getting better, but today was the first time we've really had it out.

Jump the first fence, lovely bouncy dressage canter, make it *very* clear that we're doing a circle (since I am entirely against ever putting a horse on a line and pulling them off it. That, to me, is not fair. I'm working very hard to teach her that if you're on a line, you hold it. End of story.) So as far as my directions go, she's bent, on the circle line, and then she focuses on the jump. "Laur we go HERE. NOW. Over THIS fence." ummmm no dear, you go where I ask you to. Which is on a circle that doesn't have any jumps on it.

So the first time we had this conversation nothing terribly exciting happened. She scooted and hollowed a little bit but nothing tragic and I was able to get the nice canter back in time to actually jump the second fence. Not bad.

Get a nice canter left heading up to the other end of the ring where the goal is to circle and stop. Except that as I turned her onto the circle line, she picked up one of the angles again (this time one WAY off the line and at the other end of the ring.) And she was *not* happy when I insisted on the circle. Got the full teenage rebellion. Middle finger up then storming off and slamming the door. Which in horse language translates to her head in my face, bolting, and kicking the wall on the way by. Very dramatic.

The head up and bolt she used to do fairly regularly, but I haven't seen in several months. Fortunately for both of us, she's much stronger now than she used to be so when she did that, we didn't die on the corner. But it did take me a while to get back to the nice canter. And once I did she had to come back to a walk rather than jump more (gotta love having a horse who wants to jump so much that it actually becomes the reward for the flatwork).

And then we start all over again. Jumping random fences and circling around/between others. Always being very careful to make it very clear whether we're on a jump line or a circle line. And I got a couple temper tantrums, but none quite as dramatic as that first one. So things were getting better when . . .

The rider screwed up. Booo. Got to a wicked spot (which theoretically isn't a big issue since the jumps are tiny and she's super scopey and can jump from just about anywhere) except of course it tossed my balance way off; I slipped the reins, but not enough and caught her in the mouth. Wow, explosion and a half there; almost worthy of Zel in her younger days. "You told me I could jump let me jump!!!" Bucking (well to the best of her abilities) and running (this she does *very* well) and tossing her head around. Take an already huffy teenager and then screw up something you promised them and picture the results -- yeah that's about what happened, just make the teen a horse and we're good to go. After we finally get stopped, my coach says to me "so should I beat you up for that, or are you going to take care of that?" It would seem he's already figured out how much I hate it when I screw up. hahaha

So the next fence which I nailed text-book style I still got the same hissy fit after it ("so there!"), but eventually I got her chilled and gave her something else to think about.

Finally, following that, we were able to put a course together properly. With quiet turns, taking only the fences I asked her to, landing in rhythm, good spots, circles where I wanted them, etc etc etc. All this for a 2'6" course of only four jumps. Which she would've done with no problem this summer. Teenagers are so much fun.


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