Stage One (February): Poles
Throughout the month of February we walked, trotted, and cantered ground poles. My goal was to get her completely comfortable with the fact that, yes, I am going to ask her to move her body over a
Stage Two (March): Grid Work
Starting this week it was time to turn those ground poles into small ex's. Yesterday I foolishly decided to just set up an ex and give it a go. That was foolish of me, and I knew better. She pulled all sorts of fun pranks like halting ten feet from the jump and refusing to go near it even when I got off to lead her over it, and trying to run out and avoid the jump at every opportunity. Stubborn as I am though, I did in the end win and get her over the ex willingly a few times before calling it a night. I decided then and there that I would do things better tonight, dial it back and really start over from scratch.
After a good flat warm up, with lots of leg yielding and trot work, I set up a grid with four trot poles and two standards. I like to put up standards even if I don't turn them into jump so that my horse gets used to going through standards without becoming anxious/anticipating a jump. First I had Rose walk through the poles, and then the next time around trot them. We kept trotting the poles until she was completely calm trotting through them in both directions. I gave her lots of breaks and praise when the task was done well. Next I set up
When you do this exercise with a lot of horses they will just walk over the tiny, unimpressive jump. Some even will drag their feet and knock the whole kit and caboodle down. Not Rose. Heck no. She jumps it like it is at least 2'. Her jump is round at least, she just doesn't realize that she can be lazy about this exercise. That will come in time. I had her walk through it a few times until she was completely willing to go straight through the grid, no hesitation, no attempt at wiggling and running out. I also wanted to be able to halt her at any point prior to the jump, pet her, and then ask her to continue on, again with no hesitation. After the jump I immediately brought her back and asked for a halt. We repeated this until she was willing and quiet. After a good break and lots of praises, we did the same thing at the trot, repeating until we achieved willing and calm and made sure to end on a very good note. I was very pleased with my girl and I am definitely looking forward to getting her over some more jumps.