Jumping lessons at Beth’s place resumed tonight. They began a bit earlier than usual, season wise because we didn’t get much snow this past winter. Hence, Beth’s arena dried up earlier than expected.
So off Raudi and I went, to Beth Theison’s Three Rivers ranch. Once there, I unloaded my ‘orse and tacked her up. Present, for the first lesson this year – Jessica Dryden, who was riding her child’s new pony, Emily, riding Gracie, and Meagan riding Jack. Jessica’s husband Brian rode his horse Digger in the second lesson, and Jessica rode her horse Bey.
Raudi recognized Beth’s place – she was from the onset and for the rest of the evening, alert but not reactive. I let Raudi run loose in the arena for a few minutes. She immediately raced over to the far arena fence to say hello to her buddy Liam, a large Irish sport horse. The two were a study in contrasts, with Liam towering over smaller Raudi. Seeing the two, together mae me think that given that Raudi is on the small side, that I have less to worry about in coming off than say Beth, who routinely rides the larger horse. Thank dog for small favors, eh?
Once in the arena, Jessica, Emily, and I (and later Meagan) began going over a series of poles and cavelletis, all laid out in a straight line, and culminating in a small cross rail.
Raudi started out just fine. She went over the poles and rails several times, first at a walk, and then at a trot. Then, for some odd reason, she began to balk. I do not know why this was == Pete later speculated that she would much prefer to canter up to and over such things – and this makes sense. At the same time, her trot seemed rather choppy. It might also have been the footing, which was deep and rocky.
The balking – I had to work really hard to get her to go over the first three cross poles. Then she continued on. However, she got increasingly more resistant, then finally refused altogether to even go near the poles. At this time I felt myself becoming increasingly more frustrated, and so (of course) my centered riding training went out the window. I in essence then became a monkey on Raudi’s back.
Beth said to use the crop, which I did. Raudi then swerved to the side, nearly hitting the jump pole. I then, in what seemed like very slow motion, slowly toppled off her side. I did (for the record) come really, really close to staying put. I mean, I almost stayed put. The finally, I toppled off, onto the dark, near black, rocky ground.
I laid on the ground for a few minutes, then got up. Pete and Beth rushed over to me. I felt like I tweaked my neck and shoulder, but the rest of me was just fine. I got up and got back on Raudi. Beth suggested that I do the grid again, I replied that I would rather do a shorter series.
After yet another refusal, she put a vertical cavalletti and two poles alongside the fence. Raudi refused once, then the second time, walked over the vertical, just like it was a trail obstacle. Then the third time, she trotted over the poles and small jump. After, she snorted several times – this I knew was her way of saying that she was glad that the pressure was off.
After, Beth told me that I needed to hold my reins in one hand, and my crop in the other hand, this way, I would not be pulling on Raudi’s mouth. This statement was followed by one that I will never forget - -and this was “This horse wants to do well. However, she was unable to do so because you were providing her with conflicting signals – you were telling her to stop with your reins, and to go using the crop.” Right then, I fully understood what she was getting at. This was a huge lesson for me in that I then understood that how I take jumps and obstacles will determine how Raudi will take them.
108. 4/25/15: A Conversation with Raudi – Jails and Stalls