Almost Falling Off & Bouncy Appaloosa Throwbacks

Awkward few days. I knew I had spoken too soon when I said that I thought I had cracked Jazzs’ spinning out riding. Oh dear! We had quite a difficult time going only up the lane too the end and back yesterday. In his defence the set of circumstances that we decided to go out on all equalled a poor decision on my part.

Down on the farm yesterday, some of the large, half-fallen trees were being cut down. These were on the edges of the driveway leading up to the yard. The drive is not long and it was extremely noisy all day long. Now Jazz wasn’t so bothered by this, even when they were very close behind his stable. He might not have been stressed, but I certainly was. I think it was everyone else flapping and certain horses getting all upset which led me to worry that my own 3 would get upset (such unjustified worries as all 3 were fine. Storm was a little unhappy to begin with but soon calmed and ignored it).

Anyway, Jazz – as I am fully aware – is not confident in any way shape or form to be hacking out on his own yet. As he had done quite a lot of schooling this week already, including a flat lesson and jumping I feel he had quite an intense week of learning in circles. Ordinarily I like my horses to hack out at least twice a week where they are allowed to have a loose rein (if earned), and to relax and get away from training all the time. As a bonus it is great fitness work too.

So here I am thinking baby Jazz could really do with a relaxing ride and allow him to mentally destress. However, there was nobody around to tag along with. After I was ‘um-ing and ah-ing’ for ages, two other ladies on the yard said they were just going to the end of the lane and back. Sounded ideal. But… and here I made a mistake.. I knew their respective horses are very slow. Both ladies like them to be very, very slow. Jazz, while not a particular whizz-kid like the ponies Storm and Dice, has long legs and I prefer him to be forward going. It became immediate that Jazz was going to go out in front and that there would be a gap between myself and them that grew and grew. Essentially, it was like Jazz was out riding by himself. ERROR!

It was quite an error. He was really hard work. He managed a spin before we got a few paces from the yard. And he never settled. I have to keep him moving forwards off my leg, partially as a good habit and partially to prevent him thinking backwards and therefore about spinning. I congratulate myself on not losing my temper and staying calm in this situation. This is something I work hard to control and make myself emotionally balanced. In situations such as these, it pays off. But he really put effort into now wanting to go forwards. He was spinning and creating a fuss. One spot in particular he fought me relatively hard.

Finally we reached the end and turned for home on which point he was much more relaxed and calm. Until we reached that same spot a few yards away from the yard when we were lulled into this nice, non-spinning way back home. When I nearly came off him! He whipped round really fast and I was left hanging over the side. I credit my beautiful Prestige saddle for keeping the left side of me in position so I could haul the rest of me back upright. I really had that moment of, “Oh I really am coming off and my god he’s a tall horse”. Quickly followed by sudden joy that I was still in the saddle. My companions slowly sauntered round the corner at this moment having been so far back they hadn’t seen the whole episode. Work to be done.

The days since have been lunge work and the field instead of hacking for Jazz in order to try and allow him the relaxation I was aiming for instead of the disaster it became. On the plus side, he did go really well and at the time I didn’t feel nervous. Bonus.

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I think the Pessoa works fantastically for building up horses correctly. Note: Jazz already has a ‘long and low’ outline nailed and we are working to lift him up a little now which is why the Pessoa is on a medium height rather than the common low height. Adjust to suit your horse and the time. 

Storm has been blazingly brilliant in his lesson this week and is looking fantastic getting ready and revving up for the season start. Unfortunately I did not have a trusty photographer around to take pictures but I will try and set up my GoPro in the arena to capture him working well. So proud of how fat that wonderful pony has come. I love having a super-pony in the horses’ world of Eventing.

So to round off with my lovely Dice. I had a jump on him this week as it has been months since I personally last jumped him. His second rider only jumps around 80cm and a push with him and is more comfortable at 70cm – 75cm. I thought I would just see how he feels having not done so for a while. And I also took the opportunity to jump him more of what he was used to with me at around 90cm- 1.00cm. I can’t say I wasn’t concerned to begin with as when I first got on he was sluggish and knocked over a crosspole. But I know my pony and I know how to get him on your side and wanting to put his heart and soul in it. By the time I was done he was so excitable, he bounced over a nice 90cm oxer. I was so tempted to go bigger as he just gives such a great feeling and jump and he really tries but there is no point pushing the poles higher and higher for selfish reasons every single time. I had to help him out quite a lot initially to place him correctly for the fences – something he has had to do on his own as his second rider cannot see a stride yet. I don’t mind, I have a better idea of how to help her having felt him for myself. Almost 18 and he definitely still has it.

Seeing as this post is a little short on photos, I’ve recently been digging through the archives and I have found some fantastic Dice Throwback pictures of show jumping days gone by.

P.S. Dice is amazing! He is far too good for me and has tolerated my less good riding and my mistakes over the years. Luckily I have had zillions of lessons and learnt a lot and improved for him. And i love him. I love him so much and in return he tries his heart out for me. He has so much scope and has had as many poles down as fingers I have on one hand in his competitive career In my younger years I had more tack on him. Turns out he jumps so much better without martingales, nosebands or fancy bits. He likes plain eggbutt snaffles and that is it.

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Back in our Junior Affiliated BSJA days.

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Threw in a HUGE jump and I ended up way behind him out of balance. Another failing on my part that he accepted and made me learn from. 

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One of the biggest courses we did, 1.05/1.10 single phase class. He excelled himself that day as I was very nervous!

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The three pictures above are when we competed against horses in Senior Affiliated BSJA classes. He never came away without placing. I am so proud of him. 

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