Monday, May 19, 2008

The Trail "Tail"

What a weekend. Only managed one day of riding during the week and that was a half hour late on Tuesday night. Had thought I had plans to get to the park & trails on Saturday but that just did NOT happen. I did manage to work in the arena with Monty, we wound up putting in an hour and a half of work. The flatwork was great, moving forward, nice headset, soft in my hands. Great stuff. Then I asked for some jumping, (mind you these were cross rails and we were trotting to them) and it suddenly became a project.

He trots to the jump, tries to canter the last stride, then he lands and bucks and acts like a jerk and I have to pull him up, settle him and try again. We go through this every spring after the winter off from consistent riding. We trotted the crossrail a few times and I got so tired of the nonsense that I asked him to canter the crossrail and THAT he did right out of stride and I had no problem with my position and release. I give up, next time, I go back to the exercise of setting a pole on the ground about 9 feet in front of the jump and about 9 feet after. This way he has to concentrate on trotting the pole into the jump and cantering the pole after the jump instead of his usual rushtothejumplandbuckandplayafter routine. That and trotting that crossrail as part of a 20-30 meter circle. Sometimes, I think I have lost my timing and my "eye". I feel like I either don't release well enough or I can't get "with" him into the jump and after.

"sigh" I need some jumping lessons...

Sunday was trail day. My friend and I got our schedules together and headed out earlier than usual. The sky was cloudy and of course neither of us checked the weather so as we got about half way out we began to think rain might not be far off. Monty was the most relaxed he's been off the home property, I think we have that settled.

On the return trip the breeze starts picking up and we could feel it getting cooler, now there are grey clouds starting to drift in. We were guessing how long before it started to rain to how much more ground we had to cover to return home. Now we exit the woods to the road and we notice my friend's horse has a branch with leaves attached to it tangled in his tail and is dragging it along the road behind him. Her horse is completely unfazed by the "thing" dragging behind him but Monty is stepping hesitantly and giving it the evil eye. We were chuckling about "oh no, look, Dandy has a "snake" stuck in his tail" when my friend notices my horse is walking behind her Dandy and he's got his head low and focused on the dragging branch. Of course I'm curious what my horse is going to do, so I sit deep in the saddle and wait. Monty is walking closer...closer...then steps on the branch, it comes free of Dandy's tail and Monty jumps straight up in the air and right down on top of it! Okay - that was a surprise moment in the saddle, (where luckily, I stayed!) Then he marches off after Dandy like nothing happened!

That was conversation for the rest of the ride, how my big brave gelding killed the evil branch snake that was following his friend! She swears Monty looked like a cat stalking something when he was following that dragging branch. Never a dull moment.

We finally get to the church across the street from our barn where the owners have graciously allowed us to graze our horses and of course we reward them with grazing for a good ride when the rain arrives (love to my Wintec saddle). Ugh, thankfully the barn is a few yards away but the snacktime was cut short and we hurried back.

One more weekend of trail riding to go, then we trailer out for the vineyard ride event. I feel good though, I know Monty is fit enough for this. I'm thinking I'm in okay shape too, as long as I don't forget the Advil...


Grey Horse Matters said...

Monty was just helping out his friend Dandy who couldn't get the branch for himself. He was really brave to do that. I know some of mine who wouldn't have helped or just been spooked the whole way home.

Chris said...

Oh, that's hilarious! Monty sounds like an absolute character!

And I can totally relate to the jumping frustration - my gelding does the exact same thing. Sometimes I have to resort to walking over small jumps but more often than not once we move up to a trot, in comes the canter and the bucking!

I had an instructor place two poles on the ground in front of the jump (a safe distance away) that we had to weave in and out of at the canter and that caught his attention and stopped the bucking...

Setup like say, a cross rail, then pole, space, pole:
X - -

If that makes sense...

SolitaireMare said...

:) Yes, I would have to say Monty is one of those "Mr. Personality" type horses!

He's a goofy kind of horse, for instance, he likes to grab the brim of a baseball cap and pull it off your head. He'll do it to anyone he can get a chance to, but he's not pushy about it, he'll kind of nuzzle up to you, then gently snag the brim and pop the cap off your head, then he drops it or tosses it away!

I know what you mean grey horse, I was waiting to see if he was going to spook or who knows what else. My former horse probably would have climbed the nearest tree after she stepped on the branch!

Thanks for the jumping exercise, chris. I always look for new ones to add to my bag of tricks. I'm going to set up some of those ground pole/X-rail combinations this weekend and work him through it. And I understand your typed diagram! The jumping exercise I use looks like this:

pole jump x-rail pole
trot in> I......9'......X......9'......I >canter out

Does that one make sense? It's a help to stop the shenanigans. You can trot it in either direction.