Tuesday, October 24, 2017

krimpet 2.0: xc schooling deja vu

Even before our impromptu mini xc school last week, Brita and I had been planning a low key outing with barn mates this past weekend. Some of the friends would just be hacking, but some of us would also be getting in some solid schooling practice.

how could this face ever get in trouble tho??
After feeling like Velvet had done pretty well with the earlier school, I started thinking about how to build on that. And particularly, how to address her issue of needing to stop and look at everything first before jumping.

we had ourselves a little party!
But like. Idk. I think I'm hexed or something. Little black pony mares (even tho Velvet's more "tank" than "pony") do not seem to do me many favors on the xc field. And in fact, really any time I try to up the ante on anybody else's horse (like Gogo, Krimpet and Lion of last year's fame), I seem to maybe end up getting more than I bargained for.

pictured: behind leg. always and forever lol
It's cool tho. As L. Williams tactfully reminded me: If you are taking risks then yea, you'll fall off. Taking risks pushes you out of your comfort zone to help make you a better rider.

One day, L, one day I'm gonna be a real good rider for taking so many risks on backyard ponies over 2' fences!!! ;P

still #goodwithdogs tho!
I digress tho. Away we went schooling on what was really a gorgeous beautiful October day in Maryland. With a fun group of friends. Ain't no complaining about that! Velvet actually warmed up pretty well too - I showed her our first log and she jumped it pretty well fine.

Then we went right on over to the little roll top from last week, which I'm pretty sure I also showed her, tho I'm not positive. Naughty mare ran out of it tho in a somewhat nasty way. Last week she'd skitter to a shaky stop at the jump (which obvi I didn't like) but the running out thing is.... really not cool in my book. So we had words about that and reapproached it to clear it no problem, tho jumping it once more for good measure.

ooooooh gurl. it's one thing to stop and look at a fence, but running out is crossing a line. 
I was still pretty fixated on the idea of building off the work she had done in our previous outing tho, and on the idea of getting Velvet over fences on the first try. After chatting with Brita about it, I opted to aim the pony back at that itsy box we had jumped well (after an initial stop) last time.

bc reasons. at least i was holding the neck strap?
And darn it if that pony didn't just like... teleport out from underneath me. One second she was evenly between all my aids (well, ok, she was behind my leg, but at least mostly laterally even if not longitudinally). And the next? I was staring at her from the ground as she tried (and failed) to beat a hasty retreat. Rotten thing!

pictured: still behind the leg. but now that leg is angry lol
Run outs, man. They're just not cool. Maybe other riders would have stuck that bob-n-weave type move... But idk.... it felt pretty dirty and it looks pretty dirty in the helmet cam footage too.

remedial logs
This is how horses like Velvet kinda operate. They get all zippy and hot to the aids to the point where riders want to take their legs off - but at the same time she had zero problems running through both my spur and crop pushed against that bulgy right hand side. Sorry Velvet but you can't have it both ways.

thing we did *not* stop at tho
In any case we went back to our little warm up log that I made her school from both leads (princess no likey jumping from the left lead) and both toward and away from the other horses. Not every jump was perfect, but she did it every time.

We then moved right on along back on track to jumping other stuff. Tho I admit to kinda giving up on making her jump everything sight-unseen. So I showed her the fences first, then approached to jump them. This proved effective and we had no more stops (or run outs) for the day.

and another thing we did not stop at!
The purist in me was very dissatisfied with this method, but the realist in me was very disinclined to have another unplanned dismount.

The optimist in me (a small but hopeful voice!) tho appreciated that, ya know, the horse is just plain green and any mileage without a refusal can only be a positive thing. Maybe she's done this stuff before, but she has had no consistency in her life and it's maybe unfair to expect her to build at the same pace as a horse who is accustomed to a training program.

So if showing her the fences before jumping them helps her understand and ensures that she does, in fact, jump each and every time she is asked to jump.... well. That's gotta count for something right? (tho my inner cynic {a cranky screechy voice} might think it amounts to enabling and coddling the horse...)

thing we didn't even have to look at before jumping! #growingup
Anyway tho we just kept on moving right on along with the plans. Tackling new fences we hadn't seen last time, and actually doing some stuff in the water. I was particularly proud of Velvet through the water bc she jumped the log very well and without question despite not actually being specifically shown it in advance (tho we did do a drive by of trotting through the water first).

more logs tho. lol @ my right side spur aimed directly at her heart
I wondered if making her trot that fence had something to do with it - more processing time? Idk. Her trot is not great tho and she somehow gets even more behind my leg in that gait so I'm not sure our answer lies in trotting fences forever. Food for thought tho!

and another log plus one distrustful rider
We kept moving about the fields tho esp as our other riding buddies schooled their more advanced horses over more interesting things. Most of what was left for me and Velvet were more of the same logs. Going into the outing I had anticipated maybe trying some of the BN variations of these logs... but by the end of the ride I was more interested in just preventing any more mistakes.

finishing over yet another jump we didn't look at first. like she's almost an adult. almost. 
She was good tho. We practiced a little cantering through the fields (during which she cruised smooth as silk right up until she spooked sideways, inverted and went behind the leg again.... #workinprogress) and then we finished by putting a couple logs together in a row - including the candy cane (not in the video) and the white jump above, both of which she did not get to look at before we jumped them.

Sure, they were both very small fences. But like. I'm determined to see the positive of her just jumping them without question. Small wins, ya know?


On one hand it's tough bc this type of ride doesn't do very much for me in my constant struggle to be more trusting in my riding style - to let go more and ride more forward. If anything, it makes it easier for me to rationalize holding and shutting the horse down. Which is arguably counter productive.

On the other hand tho, it was useful experience in pushing on when things went a little sideways (omg literally) and working on problem solving. Because, in fact, the fall was our final refusal of the day even tho we kept on jumping for a while after that.

To me, that counts as a win. It wasn't the type of win I hoped for from the day. And it may have taken some determined processing and introspection to arrive at this conclusion (rather than just like, going on an expletive-laden rant about black pony mares everywhere lol).

But ya know. C'est la vie, right? And naturally at least I can let my fail be your win with yet another masterpiece of Emma eating shit caught on video. Enjoy!

36 comments:

  1. Lovely post. You put so much toughts into your riding and too much criticism on yourself.
    She jumped lovely. She is a work in progress. You put too high expectation on yourself.
    I am not sure I understand the reasoning behind 'not enabling codling the horse'. If Velvet was a confirmed x-c horse, then I would understand why you expected her to be more compliant.
    But If I understood well, Velvet is very green horse.
    You are doing a great job riding her out and about, putting mileage on a green horse, it is an ungrateful task. You are doing your best.

    You ought to have a look at 'Lucinda Green' on YouTube. She is a legend over the pond: UK.
    I am sure you can find video on facebook too. She explained that she takes her young horses around every single jump (water, ditch, step) at the WALK, to walk calmly on the obstacles, let them look. She then builds on this with 'they can look but they cannot stop' philosophy. but first of all, they do everything at the walk. It does not go smoothly at the start, they stop, they bolt etc.. but she insists everything at the walk. She argues that they need to understand what to do and how to use their body, legs and feet. She asks the rider to take a 'ragdoll' seat, strong lower leg, but then you follow the horse.

    Maybe Velvet needs more step by step session. She will start to trust you and you her ;-)

    Well done for taking a project, I love your posts. I hope your precious flower aka Charlie is getting better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - Lucinda is absolutely a legend and anything that works for her in bringing along green horses works for me too! Yea my expectations for what velvet could and should be able to do in this ride didn't match reality and that's not the horse's fault. It's just frustrating. But yes. I cannot wait for Charlie to be back in action !! Not least bc he can't wiggle for shit like velvet can haha

      Delete
  2. great job Emma. Even though you had other ideas, I think it was a very successful schooling (But damn it I hate to fall off too GRHHH) But not many could have stuck that drop and roll HA what a bad Velvet). But you got her over a lot of stuff. I think it was a very good experience for her (But sure bet you can't wait to be back on Charlie doing the stuff :)) Looks like it was a lovely day too!! Kudos to you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks it really was a great day. I always feel doubly annoyed at myself when my own expectations create a feeling of being let down or unsuccessful whereas a different attitude could have fixed it all up, even had the horse behaved exactly the same. But that's just how it goes sometime! I hope it was a good experience for the pony anyway!

      Delete
  3. All this sounds oh so familiar, dirty nasty run outs, falling and all. We will never get Belvet and Gem together. They would take over the world!!

    Trainer had me show Gem every jump before we take it. She doesn’t like doing that as it isn’t possible in real life on a course, but she always says “Gem hates feeling tricked” sonwe show her first so she understands the game. Once she is on target we drop out the showing stuff but anything new she gets showed at the walk first. It may not set us up for greatness in a show but it does build our confidence up which is what I am after right now.

    I’m sure you will be glad to have Charlie back under you again!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea I bet Gem and velvet have a lot of similarities in how they process this type of activity. I think I was too preoccupied with thinking about the whole "you can't do that at a show" thing to maybe step back and remember that, does anybody really care if velvet ever even goes to a show??? So why on earth does it matter?? Lol..... But yea. It'll be a great day to have Charlie back on the xc course!!

      Delete
  4. They teleport. Oh, do they teleport. And it fucking sucks lol. Even when it's dirty and uncalled for, at least it's only a short ways to fall instead of 16hh+ of falling, I suppose? Ugh. So sorry to hear about you hitting the dirt from one of these dirty pony mares again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha yea as far as falls go this one barely even registered. So. Ya know. That's a silver lining lol. Mostly it's just an emotional bruise to my ego more than anything else ;) but damn those teleporters.... That's tough to sit! And somehow I suspect velvets don't even compare to Q's!

      Delete
  5. Oh crap! Sorry you fell off. (but super awesome you dug for gold in the shit pile and found some positive take-aways). I've been trying to get that less defensive riding style as well but concluding it is just a myth. Trust and let go is still more of a 'grip with some sort of self-assurance'. :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol at "digging for gold in a shit pile." That's exactly what trying to come up with positive takeaways felt like. It helps tho. Really truly. That defensive riding style tho, yea omg it's such a hard habit to break. I feel like I keep trying and keep trying but just can't seem to make the changes I want to see. Maybe one day?

      Delete
  6. This whole post has a weird sense of deja vu for me... HA! I think you handled everything very tactfully and set the wee pony up for her own version of success over fences. Bet you can't wait for Charles to be back in action, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha yea I bet! I'm not sure velvet and Dino go very similarly, but maybe the outcome kinda looks the same anyway lol. And maybe definitely feels the same too! It's frustrating. But we push on, right?

      Delete
  7. As you know, Batt is a stopper with a whole lot of issues (which is why I don't really jump him over anything he can't handle anymore which is more or less anything other than cross rails). Based on work with my trainer and how we approached Batts issues, how you are handling the jump issues is exactly how she'd do it. Approach, look, re-approach, and have successful fence. Overtime, you will build confidence and can start eliminating the steps rather than over facing and creating new issues which are so much harder to undo. In Batts' case, it just wasn't worth it and he's so good at other things (and he was miserable personality wise while we were working on this) so we stopped. But, with some horses, it takes time and there is nothing wrong with that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup ain't that the truth! I don't mind taking the time horses need to be successful. It just annoys me when I build up one expectation in my head that proves to be totally.... Off

      Delete
  8. Omg that trot looks sooo bouncy. She's cute when she jumps!

    Obviously I have lots of experience with stopping. P being behind my leg was a huge issue. I was letting P just crawl along, which made stopping super easy. He was really dull to my leg, and you had to pony club kick to get a response. But he was spooky so the last thing I wanted was to be taken off with. So I contributed ALOT to him stopping. But hey, I felt safer, so it was hard to get out of my comfort zone. Now I spend time before jumping making sure P is responsive to my leg. If I put it on, there HAS to be an immediate forward response. And I don't start jumping until he's "Yes MA'AMing" reliably. Then when he wants to hesitate at a jump, as long as my reactions are quick enough, I just put my leg on and he jumps. Of course every horse is different, but man, I wish I'd found my current jump trainer years ago, and maybe this never would've gotten to be such a big issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea you and P have made such good progress lately it's really fun to watch! And I actually thought a little bit about your experiences with him in figuring out my approach for velvet. It's such a balancing act. Velvet in particular is not very confident at a forward stride.... But yet she wants to be forward. It's a matter of getting her to stretch from nose to tail and cover more ground, but then she gets tense and inverted and choppy instead. And she's always trying to be super hot off the leg, whereas I need her to be a little more accepting of the leg lol. Always a struggle with these ponies!!!

      Delete
  9. I know all about the teleport. It's damn hard to stay on. I have no idea if anything I'm about say is even remotely helpful but with Carmen she taught me to me to accept her being behind the leg (thinking it would prevent the bolt) which led to a whole crapload of spooking. I'm conciously trying to put leg on when she sucks back until I feel her in the bridle. I swear to god that I can feel her waiting for me to take the leg off so she can fly sideways.

    It was interesting that she was okay to jump when following but not when the horse wasn't there. Serious trust issues. I guess it comes down to how much it's worth it to teach her to jump if her owner has no plans to? On the other hand, teachign her to tackle things she's unsure of will help her owner no matter what that thing is. I believe that it's totally fixable, just not sure if it fits in with what you want to do given that Charlie will be back (hopefully soon).

    If her owner is somewhat hesitant I don't really see a future for the two of them. Velvet will likely always have some level of 'issue' and will need a confident rider. Otherwise, it won't take long for the work you did to unravel. far too many cents then you were looking for, I'm sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Velvet has serious trust issues. And honestly I share some of your concerns about what happens with the horse when she's not in regular training any more. My hope is that there's an intermediary step: she could be used in lessons with more advanced riders so she keeps working outside just being ridden by her owner. So for that reason, getting her jumping is helpful. In general tho I'm also hoping that by stretching the horse's boundaries it helps make her feel more secure and confident in easier work. Of course that relies on her feeling confident in the training too so we need to keep it positive. We will see. I'm not convinced I'll have the bandwidth (or interest) in keeping the horse going once Charlie is back in action without like... Getting paid for it haha. So yea. There are real concerns about what happens next. We will see!!

      Delete
    2. I figured you did. FYI my times didn't really improve this week- Carmen has been really really spooky which makes going into 2 point an issue. I made it to 8 minutes solid but since that included a scoot and a lost stirrup without my butt touching the saddle I am giving myself bonus points. :D

      Delete
  10. I have such a hard time trusting as well after having so many dirty stoppers... Currently trying to teach my leg not to brace is my biggest issue. But I don't blame you one bit for being defensive after that naughty stop!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea seriously..... it's really hard to just default to a tighter position. but. ya know. i also try to tell myself that while we should strive to be both soft AND effective, we must be effective first. one day tho!

      Delete
  11. Sorry you ate shit :/ and yeah I stick by the risks statement even if you don't think jumping strange horses over new obstacles is risky because of the height, I STILL think it counts because dude strange horses

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This. It's not like you're doing the horse switch at Maclay finals and every horse you sit on is a confirmed 3'6" eq horse lady. ;-) Velvet sounds like a challenging horse with a challenging history and you are doing a fantastic job of finding ways to approach training that work for the horse, which is what matters anyways.

      Yeah, she might not work in a higher pressure program where THE HORSE GIVES YOU DONT GIVE TO THE HORSE, but hey, most horses don't, and what's more, she isn't in that program and doesn't need to be. :-)

      Fwiw, it sounds like you're doing a pretty damn good job.

      Delete
    2. ugh i'm sorry i ate shit too. it's like my least favorite activity. and that's fair on both of your points: strange horses that are not confirmed in their training, or even really adjusted to *being* in training, do not always make for the easiest rides. i keep reminding myself that. and i definitely don't want to be the rider that basically crushes a horse into a mold by brute force alone. bc..... at the end of the day i need a horse who can arrive at the correct answer even when i make a mistake. so far i'm ultimately pleased with velvet's progress and feel satisfied with the work i'm able to do with her. setbacks always feel shitty tho so i think the key is not seeing it as a setback lol.

      Delete
  12. Sorry about the fall. That was a rather dirty pop to the side. At a clinic over the summer the clinician had us walk our horses up to each jump and stick their heads over. His idea was that if their head has gone over, they think they've already gone over and they won't refuse. I was like, that seems like cheating and I'm not going to be able to do that at an actual event, but I don't talk back to trainers, so I just did it. It did work though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea that's basically what i do with velvet. it does work. actually with the smaller jumps she'd pull me over them even just from a walk bc she had the plan figured out. it didn't match my expectations for what i wanted to be able to do in the ride.... but that has more to do with a problem with my expectations than it relates to a problem with velvet.... c'est la vie tho!

      Delete
  13. She's a pretty little thing, but wow that teleport- dirty tricky pony. It's also so important to be able to ride other horses, and ride them well.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Glad you're okay - but totally agree, that was a dirty trick she pulled on you! At least you got to end the day on a better note?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea definitely. in a way it was nice that it was the beginning of the ride instead of the end bc i could kinda try to work on "fixing" it. still tho, it kinda deflated my spirits to be out doing the thing lol

      Delete
  15. Naughty naughty Velvet! Yeah, I hear you. I'd be upset too that she couldn't just....gooooo. But seeing the positive is probably the best way to go. Again, naughty pony mare!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh she was going all right haha. she was going a little too much - she's a very forward horse but she kinda scares herself by rushing at the fences and then freaks out. she needs more time to process jumps, which is why she has to look at them first. but like. she doesn't want to trot jumps either.

      Delete
  16. This kind of story of the exact reason that I'm happy I'm too tall to ride ponies!! They are too dang naughty for me, and can get out from underneath you in a flash. LOVE the helmet cam pic of you falling though- totally priceless!!!

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHano

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha well in fairness she's not actually a pony, tho i call her (and everything else, actually) a pony. she's easily quite a bit bigger than my last mare isabel, and is built like a freakin sherman tank (she wears charlie's girth and his neck strap is actually tight on her). but yea she's still a nimble wiggly eely little thing...

      Delete
  17. No plan survives contact with the enemy, at least that's what they say in the military. (That kind of makes Velvet sound like the enemy. Sorry, Velvet!) For what it's worth, being able to adjust The Plan to match actual real-world circumstances is a skill that helps keep riders alive and in one piece. While you're fixing horses that are issue-rific for their riders and it's not super-fantastic for your confidence over fences, try to remember that it IS fantastic for your horse-related problem-solving abilities and your training skills, things that will transfer back to Sir Charles for his own challenges, even if they are different from Velvet's. So, time on Velvet is not a total loss even though it's not who you'd like to be riding at the moment. Also as a fellow "stuck on project horses while primary horse is on medical leave" rider, you have my sympathies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. omg if i felt like time on velvet was a total loss just bc i fell off of her.... well, pretty sure i would have quit riding a LONG time ago lol. don't confuse my frustration above with anything beyond just.... being frustrated. and ya know. it's ok to be frustrated.

      Delete