(warning essay, but would really appreciate you reading!
Aston and I had a showjumping lesson with a very well known professional rider in our area when I first purchased him. As some of you will know from previous posts I have written about Aston, he is a very tricky and difficult horse to ride. He is both spooky and unpredicatable, but never nasty. He is imported from holland and has been excellently schooled and jumped to 1m30 level nationally. He has since had something go very wrong and although is still a brilliant horse he has come to me as a bit of a project through rearing and napping so much his showjumping career was cut short. When I first took Aston to this lady for a lesson, he was very new to me and almost on best behaviour, nobody could understand why he was given away as he seemed so perfect!
Well that all changed and he progressively got more and more agressive, both on foot and to ride. We went for a second lesson to try and make a breakthrough with him. His trick was to stop at fences and rear, probably knowing he would eventually scare his rider into giving up. She saw him as a naughty ill manoured horse that needed a firm hand and so with whips and desperation she managed to scare him round a course of decent fences. The whites of his eyes were going and I felt as though he was simply running blind out of fear with her and her lunge whip. :-/ I said that I didnt agree with scaring him into doing what he was told and have since worked seriously hard on getting him to respect me and want to do what is asked of him.
For weeks I worked on getting him to have confidence in me as his leader and I can now even hack him out on his own which was impossible! He barely hacked in company! I kept feneces small so that it was easy and fun for him and finally made a breakthrough. Everything needed to happen slower....When I took complete control through transitions and even stopping infront of the fence, backing up and then going again he started to listen and enjoy himself. The same with a course of fences at a show, I learnt that I needed to slow him down and not surprise him into fences, and not to rush him. Instead I had to sit, support and allow him to do the job!
Over the last few months we have cracked it!!! We have been placed at every competition weve been too, whether it be showjumping, dressage, combined training, or eventing (most of which he has never done). He is a new horse! I felt sure that I was ready to take him back to this instructor to show her my new horse, and tell her how I have been firm but kind to get him there.
She was very impressed when I explained how well we have been doing, but almost annoyed in her tone that her method didnt get him there! She then said right lets see this 'new horse in action then'. He was spooky and abit back to his old self as soon as we got there, I felt sure he remembered his previous experience but also that we had come on so much that it shouldnt effect him. He popped a few and then all of a sudden he stopped. I did what I always do and gave him one smack on the bottom and put him to it again and he was fine...phew....
However he then stopped again....the instructor again started saying he was being ignorant and that these stops we completely unacceptable. I came at it again and she literally picked up the metal jump number and threw it at him as he took off!! He kicked out and belted off over the next 2 completely out of control, with her saying YES now were jumping??!! He then put the breaks on again, this time my rediculously careful horse crumpled onto a huge scary filler that he wouldnt touch in a million years!! She again grabbed the whip and said to me, hold tight, as if she were going to wrap him with it! I said to her that I just couldnt jump him like this, she went on to say well are you just going to let him get away with it??? I said to her that he has not jumped like this since he last came to her, but she almost didnt believe me! My friend stood dumb in the corner and so I ushured her to agree, which she did. My instructor went onto say that if havent got the guts to ride the horse I shouldnt ride it, and to get out and not come back! I was at this point in floods of tears and stood in the corner while she taught my friend. She must have then cooled down and came back to me saying how she didnt want to fall out with me and did I want to try again. I said yes and so she made him a small cross pole and he popped it, still scared but he went. She then said try the course again and he again stopped on top of the fence. She said this horse just isnt travelling for you, I can see your riding him but he just not going. I said he's not been like this and that I didnt think he was right.....she said he's very up with his head, does he have his normal bit in? I said no, but its just a plain double jointed snaffle, much like a KK. She came over and looked and said he's got a cut mouth on the left side. That's why he's not travelling, I jumped off and looked and as I pulled the rein the bit came through the side of his mouth and the left joint was almost a nutcracker on the left corner of his mouth so had obviously pinched. I said to her I told you he wasnt right and that hasnt jumped like this for months!!!
My confidence was shattered and now I fear he will have lost some trust in me? Awful. Horrendous, nightmare of a day!
Well done to those who read the essay! Im just soooo mad!!!