December 29, 2011

First Jump!

Surprise!  We jumped for the first time today!

My trainer's teaching style is very fluid.  I feel like she has a mid-term plan that she never fully divulges - I know the day-to-day specifics, and I know the short- and long-term goals, but in between that I'm floating on the waves she's created.  And just like with my Crossfit and my running, I don't mind that at all.  That's exactly the role of a good coach.  It's my job to pull off what they're asking me to do at a given moment, and to know where we're headed goal-wise, but it's their job to put the plan together to make that happen, because I don't have the knowledge and/or skills and/or experience to do it myself.  Today was a great example of that.

We started the lesson with some magnificent flatwork.  Two days in a row now we've had crisp transitions, incredibly regulated trot work, and the beginnings of a real partnership developing.  It's taken time for my little under-confident Cob to place his trust in me and relax in his work.  For probably five minutes today, we went around doing figures at the exact same tempo at the trot, a working trot.  He never got ahead or behind my leg, my position was rock solid, and I knew what I was telling him each and every stride.

Then we started slowly, with poles.  First one, then two, then three.  When we were moving with impulsion and going through them straight and cleanly, she turned element three into a teeny tiny crossrail, and we went over the game plan.  I was happy to learn that she and I are on the same page when it comes to our eventers: we're both into creating independent horses that think for themselves.  Therefore, my job today was to get him to the jump with the proper amount of impulsion, and to make sure he went straight.  Like Mugwump said yesterday, I presented him with the knot (the jump) and it was his job to figure it out.

The first time he took a good look at it and then trotted over it.  Over the next several attempts, he did the typical young horse wiggle to it, he trotted over it, he popped over it.  He tried it many different ways to see what worked best, and I let him figure him out.  I'm in no rush.  I want my horse to be a thinking horse, and an obedient, but independent being.  When we trotted in and cantered out quietly, we called it a day.

Thoughts after Day 1?  I like that she introduced this now, as a confidence builder for a horse that has a sort of false bravado and doesn't yet have a whole lot of confidence in his abilities to do what I ask.  I like that he tried willingly, never refused, and was curious and engaged.  I like that we made it a fun game for him, and he clearly enjoyed the puzzle.  I think we can only go up from here.


  1. yeah Contender! You must be so thrilled with him...and yourself! :-)

    Imagine where you guys will be by the time summer rolls around...!

  2. Great beginning to your eventing careers!

  3. Contender sounds like an amazing horse! you guys are going to do great! i look forward to hearing more from you guys!!