March 25, 2021

Long, Lazy Saturday at the Barn

On Saturday, Mary and Annie came down for their weekly visit. Mary asked what I worked on the night before with CGP so she could tailor his jumping work to help my Dressage work. I said CGP said the biggest thing we had to work on was increased collection and engagement.


She set up an exercise that when eventually built out was placing pole, crossrail, one stride, Swedish oxer, one stride, Swedish oxer, placing pole. Her justification for this was that with two oxers in a row, that would force him to sit back and really use his hind end between the fences in a way that one oxer sandwiched by verticals would not.

Everybody's jumping!

Through the course of doing this exercise, she figured out a couple of key things. First, he is really committed to doing what he wants to do naturally, which is to go through the line crooked and drifting and tipping his wither to one side, just like he does on the flat. "I mean, I thought the Swedish oxer would encourage him to jump the easiest part of the jump, which is the middle, but he was like thanks but no, I'd rather jump the high part crooked," she said, surprised.

"I don't think he thinks that way," I said. "He ALWAYS makes it over, even if the jump is higher than he thought or he gets a bad spot or he spooks at it. I'm not sure level of effort crosses his mind, at least with the fences set to this height, where even the high end is something he knows he's capable of."

Jumping the high part crooked - Mary riding passively

I encourage you guys to click through to view the GIFs in gallery view and watch the previous GIF and the next one side by side to see a subtle but clear example of this, and of our other big revelation (more to Mary than to me) which is that Connor needs an active ride through the exercise in order to improve.

Mary said, "I set this exercise up in such a way that I thought the exercise would teach him the right way to go through it, but I think he really needs me to show him how to do it right." I said, "Well, he's not an eventer anymore, he's spent the last six years being told where every footfall should go in a Dressage court, he's used to being micromanaged now. And plus, this horse has always been a follower, he's most confident when he's got a strong leader dishing out orders."

Huge difference from the previous attempt (which is the previous GIF) - Mary riding actively. We ended on this one.

After Mary jumped Connor, Annie rode Connor, then Mary taught a barnmate an impromptu (unpaid!) lesson over the same gymnastic line, then Annie rode her favorite geriatric retired Quarter Horse Zippy:

Moving better than ever after getting his shoes pulled and an injection of some kind

And we finished the day with some Meatloaf jumping, doing PM barn chores and playing in the big field.

Insert Lion King quote here

Couldn't ask for a more perfect first day of Spring!


  1. Wow, he's really jumping great once he knows what to do! Ponies rule.
    Sounds like a super fun day!

  2. I can't lie, I love jumping Connor :D

  3. He looks amazing going through with her guidance! It is so cool the symbiosis you and Mary have to get him going the absolute best he can using jumping and dressage exercises.

  4. I love it that you are incorporating these jumping days! He looks like he is loving it!

  5. Annie in her breeches and pink vest is seriously the cutest thing ever!

    Connor looks fantastic! Maybe a couple combined tests in your future??