Sunday, May 20, 2012


Kieran was seriously full of beans today. I mean, as much as he ever gets full of beans...he totally was. Even got a little happybuck when I first asked him to canter while we were warming up. Of course, it was a bit cooler today than is typical for almost-June in Georgia so there's that factor, too.

Anyway, last week (well, Tuesday, it was raining on Sunday), Jessica set up the jump blocks so that to go over them all in one go, I'd have to make a backwards "S" shape. She had us trot over all of them, then trot over the first one and ask for the canter after a stride or two out so he'd be cantering (on the correct lead) over the last two. It was seriously hard work but Kieran did pretty well with it and I was happy with how the lesson went.

That's just background to talk about today, of course. :)

Today, the ring looked something like this:

The plain lines are just poles on the ground, the other ones were the jump blocks. The blocks started as just teeny crossrails but as the lesson went on they moved up so that the ones on the long side were "oxers" with poles in each cup when they lay on their sides (like this, except just one block high) and the one at X as a vertical on the highest block setting (so 2').

The was, when I started, that I came in from the right side over the jump at X while trotting and then was supposed to ask for the canter as we got to the jump, and direct him toward whichever pole on the ground I wanted to head for so that he had to pick up the correct lead over the jump. Jessica was like, "this might actually take most of the lesson for him to 'get' but it's really about you learning to plan ahead and know what you're asking for". Would you believe he got it perfect on the first try? So we did that with the poles from both directions and moved on to doing it over the jump blocks.

He very quickly after that started smacking the teeny crossrails with his feet. He wasn't interested. He thinks crossrails are boring. So that's when they got moved up to the "oxers" and for a while the X jump was a medium vertical before Jessica made it the 2' vertical.

We were able to do it come in from either one of the jumps in the corners and around to the one at X or from the one at X over to one of the jumps in the corners. Kieran was so game for this we even went around in big circles a couple of times or I'd go over the one at X then come around and do the whole long side.

As the lesson went on and we started to get tired though, he stopped picking up the correct lead over the X jump. I'd want to go right and he'd pick up the left lead and I think I've mentioned this before....once upon a time he was so unbalanced that when he got the wrong lead, it was easy to feel. Now? I'm still cantering along up there merrily thinking about what a nice canter he's got and Jessica's on the ground going, "CAN'T YOU FEEL HE'S ON THE WRONG LEAD? (but at least he's staying balanced through the turns....)". I suspect there are longe lessons in my future. But anyway....finally after trying a bunch of times and just not getting it right, I asked Jessica to get on him so I could see what he was doing.

Man. In the past I know you could kind of see him be like, "bwah? who the heck are you putting on me? this is weird..." when someone else got on Kieran but with Jessica...he really doesn't like her on his back (and she wasn't doing anything wrong...he just didn't Approve).  He went from, head down, ears out relaxed, doing whatever I asked to...head up, eye tense...and just generally saying "eff you, lady," whenever she asked him for something. Also, it was kind of hilarious how tiny she looks on him. She did, at least, manage to just get a right lead canter out of him so then we switched back and immediately he was like, "oh, this is the right person again. Cool."

So went back and this time was asking him to canter before the jump at X and then was going to continue cantering to the right for the pole in the bottom corner. Apparently he still picked up the left lead going in to the jump at X but when I was like, "Yo, dude, we're going right" over the jump, he did a change and landed on the correct lead and hopped right over the corner fence.

He totally got told how amazing he was and we ended there. :)

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