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Yesterday morning I decided to pop a couple of small jumps up in the school and see how Scottie went. We haven’t jumped anything since before Christmas, but as you may have seen my ambitious goal for this season, I need to crack on and get jumping again.
The jumps weren’t big or challenging. I put a cross on the 1/4 line which was probably 50cm (ish) in the middle and 70cm (ish) at the sides, a straight at about 60cm on the other 1/4 line and a single pole on the centre line. But last year we had a few problems with stopping, so I wanted fences which were inviting and small enough to scramble over from a walk if he backed right off.
As soon as I was on I could tell Scottie was very excited about doing some jumping.
Scottie does enjoy his jumping. In fact I think it is the only thing he does like. But the beginning of last year he lost so much confidence due to having sore shoulders that he really stopped enjoying it and didn’t want to do it, even after his shoulders were better. So because of that I haven’t jumped him too much. Partly so that we could gain confidence over small jumps, partly because it’s difficult without someone on the ground and partly because we have used that time to focus on our flat work, which has improved massively.
As soon as I got on yesterday I could tell that Scottie was ready. He was forward in walk and marched around the ring, jogging in the corners, nose in the air and ears pricked. Despite his excitement, he still backed off a pole on the floor. He tried to walk round it and ended up jumping it from a stand still.
After a few more attempts he didn’t get much better, so my hopes of jumping were quickly disappearing.
But I decided to move up to trot and carry on anyway. This was better and worse. We weren’t stopping or trying to run out of the pole anymore. But we were now coming off the corner and launching into canter at it. So after a couple of leaps of the pole I tried to do a nice relaxed trot around the school…
After jumping into canter in every corner I gave up coming back to trot and just let him canter a few laps before walking and changing the rein. As soon as we were walking he stretched and took a long rein… typical. After a little while I decided to trot on and once again got canter. So another lap and walk later I thought we were ready to try a jump.
Now since we have been stopping, I like to trot into every new jump until we stop stopping regularly. So I aimed to get a trot around the arena, which we actually managed this time. So on the next lap I sat up and made the decision to turn him into the jump.
As soon as he felt the turn coming he jumped into canter with his nose in the air. With a strong check we managed a rather erratic trot towards the cross pole. He was so excited and forward that it wasn’t until we were upon the jump that he clocked that he actually had to do something now. He was good and didn’t quite come to a stop, but he did hesitate and scramble over it destroying the jump.
Luckily one of the other liveries was about to quickly come and pick it up for us and next time round there was no hesitation from Scottie, despite me desperately asking for trot on the way in, giving up 4 strides away. We flew over this a few more times, giving up on trot and letting him approach in canter before giving him another walk.
I picked up trot again and it was time for the straight. Now once again, as soon as I made my turn Scottie took off. Because I wanted him to actually see the jump rather than slamming on the breaks in front of it I tried to get him back to trot. We quickly ran out of space and it got messy. I’m sure what exactly went wrong but I know it was mainly rider error! In my attempt to steady him up and then stop his last minute run out to the left side, we came to a stop in front of the jump, on an angle.
So I walked him away and turned him back, slightly more controlled this time. I’m not sure whether he hesitated, went mid stride or what but we took off at different times resulting in an awkward jump. But when we came back round he jumped it fine, albeit going much faster than I would have liked!
We popped this a few more times before calling it a day. I’m pleased with how he went. He was enjoying it and keen to go forwards. I think the refusal was my fault and even though we had a bit of hesitation on the first jump I don’t know if he was actually thinking about stopping, more just realising there was a jump in front of him he had to jump. So that in itself is a massive improvement!
Now we just need to work on making him think a bit more so he waits and doesn’t revert to being a chaser!
Over the last few jumps my ankle really started to hurt. It kept going over on itself, like when you try to walk on cobblestones in heels! Over our last jump my ankle did this about 6 times in our last 3 strides. After that I quickly came back to a walk and had to take my feet out of my stirrups. Which quickly made it feel better.
So I think this means I need to invest in some new stirrups to give me more support, especially when I’m riding shorter. So I’m going to start doing a bit of research into stirrups and will share this with you all soon. Any recommendations would be fantastic!