At the end of my lesson last Friday I scheduled a training ride for Raglan. My hope was that TrainerM would be able to take Raglan over some jumps and give me some advice on what things we should be working on when it comes to the jumping piece. TrainerM warned me that she wasn’t going to jump if she felt like Raglan wasn’t game for it, so I made it my goal to spend the week preparing him for her!
TrainerM was impressed with how he was doing throughout the week, so while I tacked Rags up for her she set up a couple of jumps. Raglan had been exhausted after our ride the day before, so I didn’t pop him on the lunge line before I handed him over to her. BIG MISTAKE.
It was ridiculously warm all week, but Friday rolled around and the temp dropped 20°. TrainerM got on Raglan and he was just… not paying attention. He wasn’t being naughty and he was technically doing everything that she asked, but he wasn’t really tuned in. He kept gawking at what was happening outside.
She popped him on the lunge and he was certified crazy, like he had one speed and it was GALLOP.
When she got back on, he was slightly more focused but also twice as hot. He chomped on the bit and flung his head around and pranced about like an ostrich refusing to go forward. It took 45 minutes before he started to look even the tiniest bit compliant, at which point he immediately pulled his patented Raglan snap kick and charged off with all the fury of a horse riding to war. TrainerM was not impressed.
But even though TrainerM didn’t get a chance to jump my uncooperative steed, it was a really great training ride. It was great to get to watch a professional deal with Rags when he’s in a less than stellar mood.
A lot of our lesson on Friday was focused on developing a better level of self carriage. Raglan’s at the point in his training where my entire style of riding needs to change so that he can continue learning. I’ve spent the past six months or so holding him up and showing him how to use his body, now it’s time to stop helping him and let him learn to do it on his own. It’s hard to turn off all of those instincts!
Like a lot of horses, Raglan is really good at locking himself into the right position—fake it until you make it, right? But at some point faking it isn’t good enough anymore. We spent a lot of time flexing him off of my inside rein until he started to unlock through his throat latch, waiting for him to maintain his strength while also allowing me to adjust and have access to his body.
At this stage, Raglan wants me to pull on him. When things get hard he leans on my hands or chomps madly on the bit in hopes of enticing me to go back to holding him upright. For the most part I just have to put more leg on and ignore the temptation to pull on his face, which is easier said than done.
When we got to the canter I had TrainerM get on to feel out his right lead (my weak point).
I did get back on and finish off my lesson with some canter work, but we didn’t do a lot. The right lead has always been my “stickier” side, but lately it’s felt super uncomfortable, like my body physically can’t switch to that direction. TrainerM showed me a couple of stretches I can do to help unlock my hip. It involves a lot of flailing my legs around, much to Raglan’s mild annoyance. 😂
There were a few other things we worked on mixed in with all of that self-carriage stuff—slowing his marching walk down so that he’s four beating properly, turning his shoulders using only the reins and no leg, etc.—but for the most part it was one of those lessons that’s sort of boring but also very important.
Raglan’s got a training ride with TrainerM Friday afternoon! Finger’s crossed that maybe she’ll take him over some small jumps, but she also said that she’s not my crash dummy soooooooo we’ll see. 😅
Oh, and TrainerM confirmed that I need a new saddle. 😭
Oxers have always made me nervous. I think it stems back to the first time I jumped an oxer, when I got left behind and Belle the Pony yanked me down her neck and over her head on landing.
On Saturday I was down at Aspen Farms taking photos at their eventing derby. I hung around until 5:30 to watch the Preliminary riders. During their course walk a group of them were talking about part of the course when one of them said, “It’s just an oxer, it’s not like it’s a rolltop or a table.” Talk about perspective! 😅
The next day we got out SellerH’s flower boxes and filled them with fake dollar store blossoms.
I lunged Rags over the flowers. He jumped the snot out of them at first! But the jumps were easy peasy and watching how effortlessly he hops over these little fences always gives me a confidence boost. By the time I was done lunging I knew the jumps would be a piece of cake.
We warmed up with the ungarnished cross rail, then started playing around over the decorated jumps. We hopped over the lines from the trot and from the canter without any problems, and it felt like we could have jumped the moon together—so I set up the oxer.
It was the first time I felt truly brave taking him over jumps! Even when I lost my reins and had to scramble to get them back while Raglan dive-bombed through a corner, I felt strong and capable. There’s a lot that needs work, but having a bit of that fearlessness back makes me feel good about our future.