Friday, April 1, 2011

A New Approach to Jumping Triple Combinations

Hello one and all,
It's been one of those days where the hours go by really, really slowly and then all of a sudden the day is over and nothing is done yet. The barn resembled Japan around 2:15 p.m. but somehow our team managed to get everything cleaned up (seven horses included) and presentable by 3:30 p.m. I'm sitting down for two seconds until the farrier comes back (he was here ALL day working on a pair of glue-on shoes) to tack a shoe back on for us. Add our farrier to the list of things we can't function without...he is wonderful. So, wanted to write a little about Guppy and his first day of roundpen training.

Guppy is a very, very nice horse with a lot of presence and talent...however, sometimes he has a hard time with combinations in the stadium ring. It's almost like he sees the second jump and can't understand how the first jump fits in..then he jumps in and loses his confidence. There is a trainer down the street (we'll call her "N") who is an expert in roundpen training and natural horsemanship type things. She offered to work with Guppy to see if she can boost his confidence (thus transferring to the ability to tackle combinations!). It was very different from what I'm used to and it was quite interesting to watch. I rode Gup down to her barn and she had me put him in a stall, and remove his bridle. She pulled the stirrups down and basically connected them under his belly with a stirrup leather so they can't move around and distract him. He then got a rope halter, and then a simple bridle with a D-ring snaffle. She then started working him in the stall, moving him around her and away from her. He was nervous at first and just kinda jumped away from her with white eyes but after a few repetitions he started listening instead of reacting and was halting/walking at the raising or lowering of her hand. When she felt he was listening she took him to the roundpen outside, practicing halting and starting again the whole way there. Then she worked him in a small circle around her, getting him to move his haunches away from her when she walked towards him and having him halt when she raised her hand.

Next step was to attach two long lines to each side of his bit and through the stirrup irons, which immediately freaked him out. It took a few moments of him galloping around to figure out that the lines weren't going to kill him and he finally got the hang of changing directions and changing gaits by voice commands and body movement. One of the visibly cooler things N did was have him go from a collected canter on a small circle to an extended canter on a larger circle just by closing her fingers on the lines.

At this point I had to run back to the barn and get some work done but it was interesting to get to see most of his first roundpen session. Time will tell if this will register with him but I have faith that he's a smart boy and will get the hang of it and hopefully build his confidence (which is the only thing holding him back right now). I had a video of him working but my moronic self forgot to hit "stop" so the phone recorded it's entire memory of my pocket. I really can't believe I did that.

I do have a video of the BooBoo amusing himself. It was supposed to show him pulling carefully folded blankets down and tossing them through the air but I caught him in an angelic moment of posing. He's so darn cute.

ALSO..if you're interested in pictures of our latest outing, go to, then equestrian, then events, then Southern Pines II, then Charles Plumb. Monkee, Guppy and Ardy are on there :)

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to say that I think that these are the types of situations that "natural horsemanship" is useful... when groundwork can be translated to under saddle work. Looking forward to hearing about his next session!