Perhaps it was the fact he didnt have turnout that day, perhaps he was punishing me for taking Saturday off… but Bentley was a total goon on Sunday!
It started off with him being super hyper with a giant trot that was a little too much for the size of the arena. We also had a bit of a scare, as he decided he didn’t like the mud near the door of the arena (which had seeped under the door from the rain). While I kept him steered away most laps of the arena, one of those big trots led us to take the corner a bit too deep, and the lack of attention he was giving my aids led us straight for it. Instead of going sideways (as I was directing him) he dipped a toe… MUD! I HATE MUD! He seemed to say, lept up, forward, bucked and who knows what else, but I swear we didnt touch ground for what seemed like an eternity… bending, twisting and flying through the air. I ended up on the side of his neck and very close to busting through the door with my body.
I dont know how but we regained control. He must have been embarassed and stopped because I doubt I could have done much from the position I was in, but I did manage to scramble up into the saddle without eating dirt. Funny thing was after that, he took us through the mud again, and didnt seem to care at all.
The jumps were still set up in the arena, and since he was now starting to respect my commands but still clearly had a lot of energy to burn, I figured we would blow off the steam jumping. It has worked before! Well it did work… after 20 minutes of jump work we had the most beautiful trot we have ever had. Consistent in rhythm and contact, supple and with lots of impulsion without running off. It was a beautiful end result, however getting there wasnt as pretty.
Like the weird mud fiasco, I didn’t quite understand horsey logic when it came to jumping. He was wonderful for the first few jumps we tried, but then we came to a very small (no more than 2 feet) vertical… the second smallest jump in the ring. A jump that we had taken without problem (even set higher) several times earlier in the week. Perhaps it was because it was on an angle, perhaps it was because he could see a more enticing opportunity, but that tiny vertical gave us so many problems!
Let me explain. There was a new jump in the ring. Let me redirect to the setup we had on our Wednesday night ride:
See where those 2 verticals meet? well imagine now a large 3′ raised skinny oxer to the left of that point… no more gap. No reasonable escape. But that became the jump of choice for Bentley. We would do the crossrail line, roll back to the larger vertical and back over the crossrail, roll back to what would have been the small vertical with intention of jumping the small oxer, and maybe if we were really confident at the end, try the raised oxer. Instead of going over the small jump however, he would deek right at the last minute, and jump the oxer backwards. Seriously? How is that less scary? Silly horse… as I said… I just cant follow the horse logic.
It took us going all the way back down to the walk, and trotting only 2 strides out to get that small vertical. Every time we went any faster he would opt for the larger choice. Eventually we got it, and cooled out with the lovely trot I mentioned earlier.
I think someone likes the big stuff.