Thursday, 4 June 2015

Day 154: Jumping Makeover

154: Wednesday

7.30am start today with a nice, long, hot shower as I am still aching all over after flying down the double decker staircase. On a good note, I knew my love for pasta is good for something! It helps me maintain a nice padding on my back side and prevents potentially breaking any bones ;) 

Friend picks me up from home at 8.30am and off we go for a full day of teaching at Brackenhill Stud. 

Very different horses and very different riders to teach today and I do love how this keeps me sharp and focused. 
Last weekend, Shabby and Emma rode a dressage test of a lifetime for them both for 34, bagging an 8 as well which has never happened before. I am super happy for them but sadly, Shabby then proceeded to mow the show jumping course. It was the first time they entered a Novice class (1.10m-1.15m) too and Shabby is difficult as it is over BE100 (1m courses). 
It was the final straw to a decision to get to the bottom of the show jumping issues and I suggested a bit of a radical “makeover” ;) 

I can’t take credit for this approach as I was introduced to it by someone who re-trained trotter horses but the idea is to look at the horse’s behaviour in terms of how much focus he gives to the rider in a certain situation. 
Shabby’s dressage has improved because we focused not only on Shabby's flatwork but also on a very thorough rider training which in turns gave Emma wider range of communication with him. His focus, which was largely “outward” changed to “inward” and the rider. 
He is always described by Emma as keen, bold and loving the XC phase but to me it is her describing herself there and the horse, for whatever reason, also shifting the focus on her, disregarding to a large extent the anxiety the jumps might cause him.

Show-jumping is a different matter…He warms up in a fashion that could be called acceptable but the moment he goes into the ring his focus is 90% outward. This means that even though the rider applies all the signals he knows how to react to well, he has no capacity to notice them. 

He has the physical ability to jump well above the 1.15m but mentally he can’t cope with a cross pole. I sat down at the beginning of the week and thought out this perhaps a little crazy plan of building Shabby’s inward/rider focus. We started today. I shall let you know how we go…

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