Friday, May 9, 2014

My first time jumping Rondo

On Tuesday I had a riding lesson on Rondo, and jumped him (for real) for the first time.

I say "for real" because back before V. started leasing him, when he was still really green, I hopped him over a jump a couple of times... but it wasn't really jumping.  It was more like kick, kick, kicking to get him over the jump (he wasn't shod at the time and we didn't know yet that he was footsore all the time), and he would either stop right before it and do a little hop over it, plow straight through the poles, or go around.  I don't think I ever did an actual, successful jump on him, and we gave up because he was so green and so obviously uninterested.

Since V. has been riding him, though, she has been jumping him -- and since he has shoes on now, he is doing pretty well with it.  He is still lazy and does try to avoid them sometimes, but that may have also been because his back was sore, as he has been much more forward and willing since he had chiro last week.

(I also think a good deal of him going around the jumps is because V. has trouble being assertive.  When she used to ride Panama, she had a hard time getting him to go, and he loves to go -- he just had her number.  I think Rondo has it too.)

Anyway, I chose to ride Rondo on Tuesday, because I wanted to see for myself how he was moving after his chiro (V. said he felt more balanced and forward) and also because see what I needed to work on with him when I ride him.  And my trainer got out a jump!  I was nervous but I got it done, waiting to point out until afterward that it was my first time jumping him, primarily because I didn't want to think about my fears too much.

I was impressed with how smooth jumping Rondo is.  Not only was that my first time jumping Rondo, it was my first time jumping any horse other than Panama.  Rondo is much smoother and more fluid, and as a result I found myself freezing up much less.  Of course, part of it is that he has much longer legs, and can jump a cavaletti more easily than Panama, but part of it is also just that Panama tends to over-jump everything.

I feel good about finally having jumped Rondo myself.  It was a good way to end -- I'm taking a break for lessons at least during May, and maybe during the summer too, as lessons during the summer are difficult with all the extra hours I work, and I expect to be even busier than the usual this summer.  I still plan on riding on Rondo plenty on my own, though, so it was good to check in with him and see what we needed to work on.  I definitely need to make sure he is paying attention to forward cues, as V. has let him get a little lazy about that, and I'd personally like to do away with the spurs (and maybe eventually the crop too, but I'd rather have a crop as a secondary cue than spurs).  Other than that, most of what I need to work on him are the training things V. doesn't know how to do -- getting him to be more responsive to leg cues, asking him to carry himself properly, and that type of thing.

And of course, trail rides: Since I failed to get him out on the trail last summer, that is my goal for this year.  I plan on taking him on various short trails at first, letting him get used to the various stimuli -- joggers, cyclists, and all the other things you see in the park -- before we finally circle around the riding stables in the park.  Last summer when I hand-walked him by there, the horses ran up to the fence to say hi, and he pretty much lost his mind -- so until I feel he is otherwise fairly solid on the trail, we will steer clear of the stables.  I think once he has some experience out on the trail, he will be a very reliable, level-headed trail horse, but I want to make sure I introduce him to it slowly and with as many positive experiences as possible.

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