Monday, April 5, 2010

Ground Work Pays Off

Yesterday was overcast and a little windy - you know those days when monsters lurk behind sheds and in trees! For Sam these monsters were everywhere!!!!! The problems started with mounting. He would just take 1 or 2 steps forward. After 3 corrections he stood like a rock again and we continued on. We made it to the gate of the large riding paddock and we turned right. We only got about 20m along the fence line when he stopped, stood on his tippey toes, snorted and promptly informed me that he couldn't possibly go any further. Instead of arguing with him I decided to dismount and lead him through the scary section. Once we reached our destination I did some ground work before re mounting. He was still tense so I just asked him to move his hindquarters, shoulders, backup, come forward. Nothing difficult but it really seemed to bring his attention back to me.

I mounted and we did a lot of halt - walk transitions. Up into a trot and changed the rein in and out of a circle, really asking for that hind leg to step under himself. Up into a canter which I was expecting to be forward and strong but no he had really relaxed and was happy to canter around on a loose rein. I was really amazed.

I set up a few trot poles around the place. Once we had trotted over them I decided to have a go at cantering over them. This is something I have tried in the past with no success. Sam used to trip over them, dodge them or get a bit excited. This time he cantered at a steady pace and adjusted his stride length as he needed too. I was very impressed! He always surprises me with his improvements. In the photos below I had the trot poles set up -
#one inbetween the jump wings on the left
# one on the ground on the right hand side on the arena
# one small one in the middle of the arena facing A - C

Once he was doing it all at trot and canter we decided to have a go at jumping! We trotted up to the jump at a steady pace and straight. First time he crashed through it. He didn't seem too upset or anxious so I dismounted fixed the jump and round we went again.
2nd time he picked his hooves up and we made it over in one piece. We trotted around and came over it for a
3rd time and this time on landing he cantered off. I asked him to come back to a trot and we had another go.
4th jump was perfect I thought.
That was it I asked him walk and cool off. He didn't get upset, tense, race. If anything I think he will be a horse that you will need to keep your leg on going into a jump. I am useless at jumping. Never done a lot of it and I really do not want to overface Sam or myself. I made a real concious effort not to touch his mouth going into the jump, over it or after. I don't recall bumping him in the mouth at any stage. Below was the jump we were jumping!!!!!!
We were at a stand still when this photo was taken!

So I think the groundwork helped calm him down and bring his focus back to me. Over time his balance has really improved for him to be able to trot and canter over the single trot poles so well. They have always been difficult for us so I guess with my position that is improving is helping him as well! GOOOOOO SAM!!!!!!!

1 comment:

SprinklerBandit said...

Yay Nina and Sam!! Jumping is super fun.