Feast or Famine

Well dang y’all, I didn’t have a jump lesson for almost a year and now I had TWO in the past week. Both of the the baby horses went over to Steph’s for some jompies last week (on different days, because I might be stupid but I’m not a masochist).

First up was Gemma. It was only her second-ever lesson, and her second time going over there, and would be her first time jumping there, so we opted to keep it very very simple and easy and positive. The great thing about having no real timeline for a horse is that there’s no pressure to try to do more, we can just take it day by day and do whatever feels best. We decided to take this first time to just let her pop over some very small things, see all the fillers (I really don’t have fillers here aside from a couple flower boxes – definitely no fake rocks or liverpools or unicorns or any of that fun stuff), and just keep it very low key and relaxed.

Since the goal was to introduce her to fillers, after we warmed up, we decided to tackle just the liverpool tray by itself first. Steph led her back and forth past it a few times, and Gemma didn’t even seem inclined enough to actually look at it. So Steph stepped on it, making it crinkle, and Gemma still didn’t even seem to notice. So Steph made her next pass very close to the edge and Gemma was like “Omg y’all, ya know what, I feel like you’re just wasting my damn time at this point.” pushed past Steph, and just traipsed right over the liverpool on her own. Her face was like “Jesus, are y’all stupid or something? It’s not hard.”.

I swear there is an actual legit liverpool there

Well alright then. So then we trotted back and forth over that, then Steph built a crossrail over it. No big deal. She overjumped it the first several times, as Gemma does with any jump at the beginning of a jump school. Then we started adding more jumps on the course, all crossrails and all at a trot, so it was simple and slow and had time for her brain to connect to her feet. Naturally she didn’t give a crap about any of those fillers whatsoever. Steph was like “wow she really is brave huh?”. Indeed I was not exaggerating when I said that about this one, she really is.

We put a few courses together, circling in between fences or in the corners to get her balance and rhythm back. We want her to be making a little big better shape in the air – sometimes Gemma’s Simplest Solution is to just rocket launch up in the air. Appreciate the effort girlfriend, but we gotta jump AROUND things and use our back in the air. She got better and better with that as we went, and ended up cantering out over the fake rock jump on an angled line like a little star. Good girl Gems. Next time we’ll start doing some grid work, which I think will be really great for her. Just wanted to get her comfortable and confident over there first before we made it hard.

when they finally let you canter something so you have to make it count

A few days later I went back with Presto, and finally it was my turn to jump him. Finally! If you recall I’ve only ever actually had one jump lesson on him before, last September before he got hurt. Steph’s put some training rides on him now and gotten a good feel for him, and played around to see what works well for him and what doesn’t. We’ve been working on that very annoying little all-body-parts-going-different-directions and head toss thing he liked to do so much in the last few strides before the jump. He’s been getting better and better with that. He’s straight now, and the head toss is greatly diminished. Thus, she said it was my turn.

Tell you what, if I thought Henry was the horse that taught me how to ride, Presto is gonna be the one that teaches me how to ride More Better. He is so interesting. He’s massive so he feels like he’s covering a ton of ground, but it’s actually a little challenging to keep him in front of your leg. He needs A LOT of support from the leg in general (Henry or Gemma would be in the next county). He’s also very long, so keeping him put together down the lines and putting him back together in the corners takes me a few strides too long right now. I gotta get quicker and more finessed.

Presto is much more physical effort to ride than my Thoroughbreds. Partly because he’s so big, partly because he’s still weak, and partly because that’s just kind of him as a horse. He’s a lot of effort on all counts. He’s really FUN though, and I said I was ready for a new challenge, so here he is delivering. What I love about him is that he’s super honest, wants to jump the jumps, and doesn’t get upset if/when things go wrong. He has plenty of ability and boldness. And when you actually get him to a jump well and he rocks back… boy has got some power in that weenie little gangly hind end. Or he will someday at least.

We did a lot of footwork exercises/grids, which were good for both of us, and ended with a one stride to four stride line that he was really super about. I know it will be a learning process to figure him out, but that makes it exciting. Ya know what was hella fun though? Flying over that unicorn oxer (I love that jump, I’m going to steal it) on my derpy little unicorn baby horse. It’s been a long damn time coming, and to even just feel this level of semi-competent on him now… not gonna lie, it is fucking fantastic. We have a very long way to go, but at least we’re sorta kinda doing the thing?

excuse me sir, why are you so cute

Now that I feel like we’re settling into a program that works for all of us, I’m pumped to get back over there with both of them on a regular basis and keep chipping away!

5 thoughts on “Feast or Famine

  1. Gemma’s style reminds me a lot of my mare! Though Gemma has a lot more confidence, for sure. (A lot of that is the rider, I’m not the most confident or brave over jumps). But often, my mare will get confused, then figure it out, but not with enough time to use her back, so she’ll fling herself over the jump not unlike a deer. She gets away with it without “crashing and burning” because she’s very athletic and we’re not jumping big, but it’s not ideal and we definitely need more gridwork to help her learn to use her body! But seeing as I only pretend to be an eventer and will probably never even do a starter level event with her, I don’t mind if we keep it small. We do this for fun.

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  2. Awww, I genuinely got a little choked up reading about you and Mr. Presto. I’m SO HAPPY for you, and to see you (yes) doing the thing is fantastic! I can only imagine the sheer coolness factor of riding a horse you planned for and dreamed about, let alone having him turn out to be genuinely talented. And Gemma is pretty darn awesome, too!

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  3. Both horses look so amazing! You have a very fancy string of horses in your hands. Both horses move beautifully and I’m excited to see you out showing both!

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  4. This is so exciting! I’m so glad things are coming together for you and Presto especially. Presto sounds similar to Al. He takes a lot to keep all the parts in the right place, but once you get them there, he can jump so well!
    Gemma sounds so amazing. She really seems smart and willing. I think you’re going to have a blast with the both of them!

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