Let me start off by saying that I was in a bad place this week. I'm just feeling frustrated and like a failure. In everything I do. So... this was a bad day for both me and the baby horse. I was already a little frustrated by our grid session last week. He was good and trying but clearly not really understanding. And I felt like it was my fault for not knowing how to train a baby horse.
So... luckily Beth was late and I was actually early so Dan and I went for a little hack. I felt like he was getting a little fried and needed some time off, so I was hoping to be able to add in a little hack to help his brain. So we went for a quick hack through the woods and to the XC field and then back into the ring.
Beth had changed the grid a bit and she had us trot through poles. No big deal as he had done this. So then she started putting the fences up. Just cross rails. Nothing major. But Dan was having problems. I was having problems. I was trying to not get too into jumping position and not hindering Dan. But in effect, I was. Beth was trying to get me to give with my elbows, but not fall onto his neck. And she was having me accomplish it by straightening my elbows and pushing away. But I couldn't accomplish it. Not effectively, so I was getting popped out of the tack. And Dan was not really jumping. He was rolling over his shoulder, which was making it harder for me.
So at one point, Beth said that he wasn't really trying and asked me to use my whip over the fences to wake him up and sharpen him up. It didn't really work. So, she said that she would normally never do this, but just once, she was going to get him with the crop as he jumped over. So she did. And it surprised him! He bucked but he jumped. So the next time through he was ready for it and jumped better. The third time through he just avoided it completely by bouncing the one stride. Doh!! But he actually jumped it well. Go figure. We praised him profusely and told him how smart he was and quit with that.
I was feeling a bit down about it because... I know he's a nice horse and I know I have plenty of time, but... I was worried about his jumping ability. And normally I would have not been worried, because he's a baby still. But given my mental state that week, I couldn't help it. I asked Beth if she thought he'd learn to jump and she said that she was a bit disheartened by the fact that he wasn't picking it up very quickly and didn't seem to care. She said "We'll get him there, it's just going to take longer". But in my disheartened state I heard "yeah.... he may not make a jumper". And she said that he just doesn't know how to collect himself to be able to jump, so he's flinging himself. That was because I haven't been collecting him on the flat. So again, in my disheartened state I didn't hear "he just needs more flatwork to learn how to collect before we jump again" and instead heard "You failed... you didn't teach him how to collect, so you ruined him for jumping". Sigh...
So I gave him cookies and hosed him off and went to ride Fleck. And I cried. Yes.. I admit it. I just needed a good cry. And it didn't really help. :(
But deep down I know that Dan will be just fine. He's just a goofy awkward gangly baby still and he needs to grow up some more before he figures it out. And I know his little baby brain has been working hard lately, so we'll take the summer off to do trail riding and lake splashing and occasionally hop over little logs in the field. And of course, our weekly dressage lessons. But he'll get a little vacation and in the Fall, we will try again. And I need to have faith. I know he's going to be an awesome jumper. I watched him jump my electric fence in beautiful form. Repeatedly. For fun! So... we'll carry on. I know he's a fancy talented athletic boy.