I purposely had us doing big circles, 15 meter circles. Rosie was very forward, and she repeatedly caught up with the slower moving horses. It amazes me how such a small horse can trot so fast – she didn’t used to do this. However, she maintained a fairly consistent trot and was fairly well balanced. She also seemed very enthused about the task at hand, as did her owner.
We were next asked to come down the arena, a bit left of center, and first go over a pole and then a cross jump. Beth had Vickie stand at the far end of the arena – we were to keep going after coming off the jump, and go around the standing figure. This was so the horses didn’t cut the circle. I was pleased with Beth’s decision because Rosie has a habit of cutting corners. On the third go-around, I asked her to canter. It was interesting, I was the one making this decision – Rosie waited until I gave her the canter cue before going into this gait. She moved fast, faster than I was initially comfortable with. However, she settled down on the return portion of the loop. This was because I got her to pay attention to me, by having her circle and trot in a slower fashion.
Beth next added another cross jump – this one was in front of and to the side of the other jump. Rosie refused it once, but once over she began taking it in stride. It could have been that it was too close for her to see, and I needed to start back a ways. It was more likely that she needed more momentum before taking it on.
The sun poked out of the clouds, so we next went to the outdoor arena – a real treat because this arena is both graded and has a sand base. It was the same place in which we’d done our dressage tests, so Rosie was familiar with it. Still, I engaged in our now time-honored activity of walking her both ways around the arena before mounting. Beth told us all to trot the perimeter and then once that was going well, she suggested we all canter. Given that Rosie had been so forward inside, I was a bit nervous about this. However, I needn’t have worried. She started out a bit fast, but then settled into her more collected rocking horse gait.
We were next instructed to go over a cross jump. Rosie and I did this several times. We were next instructed to go over a cross jump, circle around, and go over a vertical jump. My heart was in my throat on the approach, but Rosie went up and over it. On the next go-around, Rosie refused the cross jump several times. When finally, I got her over it, she refused the vertical again, several times.
Beth then suggested that we go with the cross rail instead of the vertical. Rosie then refused this. This was in part because I was getting fatigued, and for this reason, I looked down. Beth then told me to tap Rosie on the butt with the crop after she refused. There were a few more refusals until Vickie (who was standing next to the jump) suggested that I tap Rosie on the butt right before the jump. She then went over. Beth then had me take her over the jump two more times. “Give your horse a big pat!” Beth said, adding, “enough for today.”
After, Beth came over to me and looking directly up into my eyes said that what we’d done was the right thing to do, meaning both use the crop and persisting rather than give up on getting over the jump. Beth then said that we did what we did in order to ensure success. She then paused and added “jumping should be joyous.”
I was so in agreement with Beth that I said “You are awesome!” for she’d said the exact right words to me at the exact right time. And right then I realized that Rosie and I most likely felt similarly, meaning we were both pleased in having done well, and pleased to be commended for it.
I was, however, left wondering if I’d asked Rosie to do too much. Perhaps I ought to have quit while I was ahead, which was after our go around in the indoor arena. In thinking about it, this is a major life lesson for me. I, the human goal setter, sometimes get impatient in thinking that I’d like to move at a more rapid pace, and consequently be joining those jumping in the advanced class.
There is also a part of me that thinks that she must keep going, and must at least attempt to take on bigger obstacles. This is why I asked Rosie to do the vertical jump. Just trotting or cantering around the outdoor arena would probably have been a good end of lesson grande finale. I don’t think that Rosie is any worse off for my having continued, but I do think that I need to focus on quitting while I’m ahead.
Next: 245. 9/8/14: In Retrospect