Oh glorious days! I’m finally back with my beasties! Well Cash at least, as Jack is at the trainers for a few more weeks. It’s so good to be around family, friends, horses and lets not forget the old Koda dog too!
As Cash has had an extended vacation I didn’t want to ride him just yet. I always like to take a day or two to just get to know each other once again and let him get out any bucks and shenanigans he might be thinking about.
Today was the free jump day! I always view free jumping as a play day. Yes they have to think about jumping and what they are doing but it’s more about the connection with my horses. They get to buck and squeal without getting in trouble. I get some exercise running up and down with them and over all it’s just a happy environment and of course treats for a good job.
One thing I do have to remember is not to over face my horse starting out. Cash hasn’t jumped in a long time (I did mention and extended vacation right?) and today I made the mistake of over facing him just a bit.
So what did I do? I used two cross-rails set so they were one stride apart. I made it so one jump was set up in a cross-rail and the other was just two poles on the ground so the first few times he jumped it he could just get an idea of what was going on. This is probably where I should have stopped.
But I put the second jump up to a very small cross rail and sent him back over it. I’ve mentioned before that Cash LOVES to jump but I didn’t take into account the very shiny white poles (Shiny poles/jumps can scare a horse and/or throw off their depth perception) and that he’s had a bit of time off. Not to mention since he’s free jumping he can hit it at what ever speed he wants. Being that they were shiny white and he hit them at a fairly good clip I think he slightly scared himself. (See the video below to see how he jumped)
When I noticed Cash was a bit tense and didn’t want to go back over the jumps I realized my error. So I took a step back. I put a halter on him and showed him both jumps by walking up to them and letting him look at them. Then at an easy trot/jog I lead him over the jumps one at a time until he was comfortable. Then I let him do it again by himself AlWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS praising after each attempt. It didn’t take more then three times before he was eagerly jumping them again.
I ended there on a high note where we were both happy and eager for more. I always believe on ending on a high note! If a horse always ends on a frustrated or bad note then the horse will have no motivation to continue working and it will always be a struggle.
The biggest thing with training horses is knowing when their confidence is shaken. Being an Eventer I always want to keep their confidence high. If they are confident, they won’t second guess themselves and will be much safer and bold cross country. If I see their confidence waver I will always do whats needed to rebuild it.
If I have to knock a jump down a notch or two, add a stride or change the speed I will. Then once he’s confidant there I’ll work back up to where I want them to be. If you make sure their confidence is high, you are also working on their trust. They will trust that what you are asking them to do won’t kill them and in order to have any sort of success weather it be on the trail or in the show ring trust is mandatory!
So my fellow horse enthusiast don’t be afraid to take a step back before you ask for a step forward. Don’t be afraid to admit you made a mistake and take the correct actions to fix it! We are only human after all. Mistakes happen.
Build the horses confidence in himself, in yourself and in turn you’ll build a great trust and ensure a great partnership in anything and everything you want to do!