not going so well :(
I brought Coco up to school with me and we have 2 lessons a cycle (a cycle is 7 school days, because we have a weird rotating schedule thing). Before going up to school I didn’t do a lot of jumping with Coco, because I didn’t have a trainer and my older sister was never there to help and I wasn’t supposed to jump alone. We’ve always known that Coco isn’t very forgiving and if she sees the smallest opportunity to stop, she will.
So, before going up to school I thought Coco was ‘the best thing since sliced bread’… but things aren’t so great any more.
During our first lesson, Coco stopped at the first jump, but then again she was in season so she needed to be ridden a little bit harder than I was riding her to the jump. In the second lesson, she was still in season, and we were doing an exercise where you leg yielded from the outside into the line, jumped the jump, rolled back to the second jump of the line. During the leg yielding, I could tell things weren’t going to go well because Coco really wasn’t moving off my leg and she was kind of flicking her head. In the end she stopped at the first jump, I had jumped ahead a little, so I fell.
The next lesson, our third lesson, which was on Wednesday Coco was amazing. She did everything she was meant to and didn’t even hesitate. I was so happy and thought ‘hey, maybe it was just her being in season that she was so bad’.
Then Thursday, I had yet another lesson and things were awful. The first stop was mostly my fault, we were doing a roll back and I kind of leaned into the turn and we ended up a little more to the left of the jump, so I totally set her up for running out. We did it again and she jumped it fine. Then we moved onto doing to role back then going around to the outside vertical. She jumped the first two jumps fine and when we were heading for the vertical, I rode her just as I should have, but she did a nasty stop anyways. By this time I was almost in tears (which doesn’t happen much for me), but quickly circled and she jumped it.
What made it worse was, by this time, a lot of the upperclassmen were there watching because they were there for the afternoon generals (flat rides, hacks). And after the lesson the day before the rest of the girls in my lesson had been saying that Coco had just been misbehaving the first two lessons because she was in season, but even though I knew that wasn’t the reason, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything.
By the time I was leaving the barn Thursday, I was ready to call my mom, tell her I was quitting and to come get Coco and take her away as soon as possible. I called up my mom when I got back to the dorm and we talked for a long time about how we had already watch my older sister go through this and how disappointing riding could be at times, and the reasons my mom quit riding were because it usually ended up as a disappointment and it stopped being fun because of that. In the end I didn’t mention I didn’t want to ride anymore.
Then, Yesterday (Friday) Miss Nelly (one of the trainers) called my mom because she saw I hadn’t signed up for generals Friday afternoon so she wanted to make sure I wasn’t too upset. (I left crying on Thursday and Ms Nelly really isn’t an emotional, touchy feely person and nor am I [usually] so she just told me I rode well etc and I left) My mom talked with Miss Nelly for a long time and explained to her that Coco has always stopped (Miss Nelly had asked me about it after the lesson, but I really couldn’t speak) and it wasn’t anything to do with going up to school. My mom told Miss Nelly that if there were school horses I could ride occasionally in lessons and that if there were other students who she thought could ride Coco well they were welcome to put them on her, which I am totally fine with. They talked about if Christmas came around and things still weren’t going well Coco should probably go home and I might be able to bring up Smokey (which I don’t really want too) or we would figure something else out.
My mom told me all this when we were driving back home and it was really hard on me, because I really want Coco to be this amazing horse I thought she was and I’m really starting to loose confidence in my riding and in Coco, which makes it harder to even try to ride her to the jumps because I’m so scared she’s going to run out or stop so sometimes I don’t try because if I don’t try to make her jump then there is no disappointment.
It’s also hard, because she usually runs out to the left (I usually try to carry my crop in that hand but it sometimes doesn’t work) and when she stops or runs out she knows that she’s done something wrong and we know she can jump the height so she’s just does it for the hell of it.
I know nothing about jumping, but, perhaps a trainer could offer advice or help?
Also, you said you didn't have much practice, which doesn't make you a bad rider at all, but perhaps a more expierenced person at jumping could help you and the horse learn together. I know how discouraged people get, I have been there, cried in stalls, on the horse's neck, frustrated with myself, it's just part of horsey life. We get frustrated and want to give up. A friend once told me this, 'Your horse only does as good as you think it can'. If you think your horse can be that fantasic jumper, it can. If you think it can't, well, then they will never get the chance.
How long have you had Coco? How did she behave before going to the school?
Maybe it is time to put the jumps away and do some work on the flat? I went through a recent refusal period with my guy who is usually as reliable as the postal service. It sent me into a total tailspin of confidence which in turn affected our jumping more, etc.
We took a break from jumping, got him really responsive to me, built up my confidence and we're moving ahead nicely on jumping again. The first runout I got when we started back, my trainer was able to spot exactly what I did wrong (off balance and jumping ahead) and since we had been working so much on strengthening my position I knew just hot to fix it when she pointed this out. I just let myself get nervous on our first day back jumping but all that flat work paid off and once I relaxed it was a great lesson!
I would say try going back to the flat, learning how to ride her a little more proactively, and maybe try some lessons on a schoolie for confidence building. I would really HATE to see this damage your relationship with your mare, and it sounds like you're both fed up. We've all been there, it sucks when you just can't make the pieces fall together, I know! When something doesn't work always try a new approach. Good luck, you're going to make it through this with your mare and in a couple months you'll laugh at the fact that you got so upset!
I rode H/J for 14 years, and I didn't come across this issue then.... but I mostly do barrel racing now. And I had a barrel horse who would turn first barrel great, but at second he would duck pretty hard. I worked with him without the barrels for a while on some other issues he came with, but when I tried to run again, he would still duck. A couple different trainers could run him through the pattern fine after the other work I did, but I didn't TRUST the horse, so he did it with me.
That horse is in AZ now, running barrels with a girl and doing fabulous. I had to think about it, but I realized that I remembered the ducking, and didn't trust him... so it just wasn't going to work. They know when you are nervous and don't trust them. You have to figure out if you can get past the trust issues. I couldn't.
Sometimes you just don't get along with certain horses. Don't let this make you give up on riding! You need to get your confidence back. I'm still working on that myself.
There are other things like ruling out soreness/pain to make sure thats not an issue. Teeth, back, hocks.... Even mare issues like hormones and ovary problems. But even if that's the case, you still may not fully trust her and that will hold you both back.
She is completely cleared by a vet and the groom checks her all over daily, so soreness/pain is unlikely...
It really hard for me not to get nervous... like at the beginning of the lesson I'll be fine and then it gets worse with ever stop...
I love Coco to death so having to give her up would probably end up being worse than giving up riding for me. She's been basically my world for the past two years and I thought she was the most incredible horse, which is part of the reason this is so hard on me. Also because I know how incredible she can be at times even though others don't see it.
Thanks everyone for all the advice though :)
So I can understand it being hard...
I could get along with that horse, too. But I didn't TRUST him... I anticipated his behavior, which caused him to give me that behavior.
That's what I'm telling you... Can you get past your trust issues with her?
I knew it would be hard, if not impossible, for me to get past. So, I would rather Max be happy with someone else.
Have you had a trainer or another experienced person ride her? It would be interesting to see how she did with someone else. And I hope you understand I'm not saying it's your fault. I'm more or less thinking out loud. :D
I did have a hunter once that turned sour... He would school fine but rear up and refuse to do anything in the show ring. (We successfully showed for a couple years prior) We had others ride him, to no avail. He was checked out by many vets, but nothing was physically wrong. He just didn't enjoy his job.
Maybe your mare would like a different job? Dressage, or something with no jumping (if she is good on the flat). I don't know. This is a tough situation, and I know its frustrating.
Oh, and who is Smokey? If it turns out you and Coco don't jump anymore, but you keep her, maybe you could do jumping with another horse? Personally, I didn't have the space or money to just keep Max and get another horse. But if you have the means, you could give Coco another job and use another horse for jumping. Or if you are ok with not jumping, you two could just start new with something different.
I think dressage is amazing and really helps with jumping and really all riding, but perhaps working on the flat with more of an emphasis on working toward jumping (2 pt, etc.)
I also agree with ImagineThat, perhaps she doesn't enjoy jumping and it would be best for both of you to find something that you can have fun together at, especially since Coco means so much to you.
With Coco when we first start jumping in the lesson, I anticipate her actions and ride her accordingly (i.e wait for the jump, keep my leg on, dont throw my hands away) and she's good so I start to loose focus because I think things are fine and dandy for once and thats when she stops. I'm pretty sure it's me that has cause this, because the people who used to own her showed her and never seemed to have a problem...
One thing I do remember is she stopped with me when I tried her, but my old trainer who knew the owners and Coco (my old trainer showed Coco for the people) for said it never happened before....
The trainer at the school barn is going to get one of the seniors or one of the juniors to ride her some time this week.
Also at school I can't not do jumping, because their program is a jumping program...
I know I sound like I'm being stubborn, which I kind of am, but it's just hard on me.
I have been talking with my parents while I have been home this weekend and we're going to try and work things out, but if they don't get better we will have to consider other options for Coco and she will probably have to be sold.
Ok. Here's a whole other idea... Maybe, since it sounds like she is a "finished" hunter, you don't need to jump her twice a week. If it's you that needs the practice, maybe you could ride someone else's horse or a schoolie? And just keep her tuned and jump once a week or something. Some horses once finished just don't want or need to drill on something that much. She may also benefit from another "side job", if you will.... take her for a leisurely ride outside the arena.
I know with barrel horses, it helps to do other things instead of drill the pattern every week. They get bored and burnt out.
I'm really trying to think of things for you! :) First and foremost, I would have someone else who rides different than you hop on her. See how that goes...
With your explanation above, you sound like you are not an agressive rider and maybe she needs that?
This is really tough, and I'm sorry it's come to having to make such decisions. Thats frustrating, and discouraging. Stay positive!
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