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Wizard Ride 27: Free Jumping- Wheee!

December 25, 2008

child of the valley

Thursday, 12/25/08

Merry Christmas! I had a lovely day with my husband and family. When the festivities were over, I headed, where else, to the barn. Since it was a quiet night, I decided it would be a good time to introduce Wizard to free jumping.

First, I walked him in hand. Then, we did a little clicker training with obstacles. We stepped over jump poles and small obstacles. Then, I did a little free longeing at the trot to get him moving forward. I set up a pole on the ground and wings on the jump standard and asked Wizard to trot over the pole. He did a cute little leap and cantered off, snorting and flagging his tail. Good boy! We did the pole 3 more times and then I made it into a cross-rail. I asked him to canter over it, and WHEEEE!!!! He leapt over it and tossed his head proudly after the jump. Maybe he’ll be a jumper after all ;^)

Then I tacked him up and we worked just a little bit on longeing as a warmup. This was the best he’s been on the longe so far. He’s beginning to get the hang of verbal cues. He still needs a lot of work with them but there was some big improvement. We even longed at the far end of the ring, where he used to do his worst stopping and spinning. He did not stop or spin a single time. And I even felt a little bit of contact on the longe line! I could almost get a nice little mini-bend out of him when I stood right at his hip.

Then I rode for about 15 minutes. We did a little more work on turning. I always try to lighten my inside seatbone when I ask for a turn. He’s getting much better and keeping better contact with me. We rode across the diagonals and did a shallow serpentine, just to try a new pattern. Wizard still walks a little like a drunken sailor, but I can feel more strength in his hind end. And he chews in a more relaxed manner now. When he is concerned about something (like a horse cantering in the ring), he chews faster, like a Jersey Girl cracking her gum ;^) When he’s relaxed, he chews slowly or not at all. He’s beginning to play with contact, clumsily stretching into the bit and sometimes leaning on my hands. I try my best to keep my hands elastic but not too loose. He can stretch into them but he cannot pull me out of position. When he’s relaxed, his head is low. When he’s upset, his head is balled up and curled under. I press my hands on his withers in order to avoid the temptation to fiddle with the reins. I’m considering putting a neck strap on him so I can hook my pinky into it and avoid playing with the bit. I’ve ridden my entire life without ever using any sort of prop, but a recent thread on the Chronicle of the Horse Eventing Forum made me think twice. Since I’ve never trained a truly green horse before, I’d rather fiddle with the neck strap than his mouth while I get rid of this awful habit.

We did a little trot work in both directions. The first two times (these are all very short stretches of trotting) were the best. The third time, Wizard’s head bobbled around since he was off balance and I made the mistake of shortening the reins and feeling his mouth too much. We both were unhappy with that! I then asked for a walk and waited til he was relaxed again. Then I asked for one more trot. This was a little unbalanced as well, but better. I tried to let him get into the groove for a few steps, then asked for a walk. Whew! Ending on a good note is a good thing. And I really need that neck strap!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2008 4:11 am

    That neck strap is a good idea that I might use with Raven as well. I also try to avoid gimmicks but since the Blocker Tie Ring and Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle have made such a huge different in her life, I am more willing to consider well-reasoned aids. I am going to work slowly to get her back into a bitted bridle this spring, so this might help.

Trackbacks

  1. Wizard Ride 30: Moving Right Along « Rock and Racehorses: The Blog
  2. Session 37: Leapin’ Lizards, Wizard! « Rock and Racehorses: The Blog

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