Spring Blog Chapter 4

Picture this: Nike and I are out in the jump field this morning, we jump 6-7 jumps, turning either direction on landing and gallop a few strides then halt quickly and rein-back. Hop off, change bridles/bits and get back on to do the exact same thing. Rewind and play again and that was our workout today. Horses, like people, are constantly changing. Last fall, Nike was light as a feather in the bridle in cross-country and show jumping, all I had to do was change my center of gravity and he would balance; add a bit of weight to the reins and he would change his length of stride and slow down. Since his recent success (he’s starting to let it go to his head), Nike is starting to question whether I am always right about how fast/slow we should be going. Hence, the switching and experimenting with bits. Part of this change in my horse is encouraged. He is confident and wants to do his job. He is brave and bold and not a lot backs him off. I am not a big fan of “bitting-up” my horses because it often means there is a lack in training. But given my size and strength, sometimes it is unavoidable. Its always a good idea to keep your trainer informed when you feel like your horse is getting too strong or maybe the opposite, losing confidence and backing off because of too much bit.    I’m sure by now you’ve guessed that Nike was strong last weekend at Southern Pines, and that once again I have work to do to regain communication with him. His first advanced went almost to plan: he was good on the flat, scored a 31.9 and his more difficult flying change was clean and quiet (which I was so excited about that I leaned down and patted him during the test lol) and he jumped around clean xc. We had 20 time penalties but I wasn’t trying to go fast and he was pretty strong so it took a while to get him back in front of the more technical fences. 
    Show jumping was pretty interesting. He was very wound up on Sunday and I was trying a leverage bit with a running martingale to keep him rounder in front of the fences. He got a bit behind the vertical and didn’t see an upright until the last stride and then put his head up and the running martingale put a lot of pressure on the bit and plowed we through it fence. Then he was pretty upset and hit the martingale at the next fence (the in of a double) and slid into that one too. Not a picture-perfect round to be sure. I rode a lot more forward after that and got out of his face and he jumped the rest of the round rub-free. 
    Were calling that round a “wardrobe-malfunction,” but I know that I need to ride more forward and get his eye on the fences. For now, we’ve dropped the running martingale for the show-jumping and the winner is a jointed Pelham with double reins so I can change how much curb he needs for how he’s feeling on the day. He’s a red-head so he changes his mind a lot!! 
Hope to see you at the Fork at Nike’s first CIC***  -HSB

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