PRO TIP: If you’re the type of rider that gets a little nervous when you see an oxer, you should probably buy a horse that EATS OXERS FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH, AND DINNER.
An hour before my lesson yesterday, TrainerM and a crew of my lesson buddies gathered together to build up a jump shoot for Raglan—partially so that we could all oooh and aaah over his hops, but also to give Raglan another chance to navigate a grid without me mucking things up for him.
Needless to say, Raglan’s got some serious #scope. It was confidence-building to see how effortlessly he propelled himself over such a large oxer. It put into perspective just how easy he thinks our the tiny 2’3″ stuff is. TrainerM said we could have pushed the oxer up another foot and he barely would have noticed.
For our lesson TrainerM repurposed the chute into a cross rail-one stride-vertical-three stride-oxer line. Raglan was on point and I felt so strong, it was amazing. Even when things didn’t go entirely as planned, I had zero doubt that Raglan was going to do his job and get the line done. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel an inkling of fear—I FELT SO COMPETENT AND POWERFUL.
I can’t get over that feeling of freedom! UGH, THIS HORSE MAKES ME SO EXCITED.
After Raglan’s busy day on Sunday, I didn’t bother lunging before our Monday lesson. He came out ready to work and his warm up went spectacular. There was a tight two stride set up in the arena. I was still a little bit gun shy after our problems in last week’s lesson, so we jumped each part separately (yay, slices!), then looped back around and stitched them together in a line. He hesitated going in, but he got it done 💗
TrainerM arrived and while she adjusted the line of jumps down to a one stride, she sent us to trot over some half-raised cavaletti. We’d already done this a few times during our warmup, but now that Raglan’s jump mode was activated he suddenly didn’t know what to do at the trot. He tried to canter/leap through it, so I had to wait for his brain to reset before we could trot it like a normal horse 😂
Once the distance was adjusted, we trotted into the line a couple of times. Raglan was being super steady, so it gave me a chance to try to figure out my eq while he happily hopped along. Watching him lunge over the bounce last week helped me visualize just how much of his neck he uses while he jumps, so I’m doing a better job of giving him the space he needs so I don’t catch him in the mouth. I’m still having a hard time getting down the timing of the two point, though. I just need 1,000,000 hours of practice!
Cantering into the jumps was FABULOUS. TrainerM had us count down into our first fence. I love this exercise and I’m generally pretty good at it! The best part was that when we came in at a slightly off distance and I knew I wasn’t going to make my count I could tell Raglan to take the long or to chip-in slightly to make it work. I’m really proud he’s willing to take my input like that!
Sunday morning Raglan and I had a #crashandburn moment. I hadn’t planned on jumping him, but another boarder had a couple jumps set up and she put one down to 2’0″ for me when she was done. We trotted our way up to it, but he was so busy listening to the ducks next door that his head wasn’t in the game and he slammed on the brakes, took a nosedive down towards the jump, and barely managed to scramble back onto his feet at the last second. I ended up sitting on his neck, but otherwise unscathed.
The next day, TrainerM set up a bounce for our lesson. Raglan’s never been over a bounce. The first was a cross rail and the second was a little vertical, but despite the tiny sizes I had a feeling it would be a big challenge. Still, he warmed up nicely, and he popped over a lone vertical without trouble.
My gut wasn’t wrong, though. Raglan went over the first part, then brake-checked me at the second. My leg wasn’t forward enough and I got thrown over his shoulder. I swan dived straight towards the jump, but managed to kick free and land on my feet before my face could smash into the pole. We got a round of applause, then I knocked the jump over and forced Raglan the Cow to walk over the whole thing with me.
I didn’t get my unplanned dismount on video (booooo!), but TrainerM dropped parts of the jumps down and eventually Raglan figured out how to go over the bounce like a proper horse.
Afterwards I put Raglan on the lunge line and handed him over to TrainerM. We put the bounce up to two verticals and sent him over it riderless. It was a great experience for him! He got to figure out his feet without me there to pressure him. We even put the rails up a couple of holes and he did a great job bounding over them. I want to schedule a time with TrainerM to set up a grid for him to free jump one of these days!
Because of how athletic and savvy Raglan is, it can be hard to remember that he’s really green over fences. There are so many things that he needs to experience before he’s a confirmed jumper. It’s important to follow my instincts and remember that it’s okay to put the jumps down and go back to the basics. It’s easier to set him up for success from the beginning than it is to rebuild his confidence after the fact!