I like to keep building on our successes and today we had another two firsts.
Andi and Granya wanted to do some jumping exercises and we have a great book called 101 Jumping Exercises for Horse & Rider by Linda Allen. Half the book is on ground poles and the other half on jumping gymnastic exercises to teach different things to the horses. Andi and Granya wanted to work on precision and control so we set up ground poles to a very small cross rail. Reign Day became my demo horse in the lessons I was giving.
This fence could be ridden straight forward but there were also two other jumps set one canter stride away at an angle so the jump option was a Y. It looks real easy and so did the three ground poles we set on the other side of the arena with 36 feet between them. My students first had to canter over the poles on the ground and change-up the striding between the rails. This was to teach them about collection and extension. Sometimes the horses rushed and did not get a full stride in before having to canter over the pole.
I thought I might canter Reign Day over the poles and see what he would do. He was perfect! He let me regulate his stride and he is so balanced naturally that he did not have any problem cantering over the poles.
Next, I had the riders do the trot poles to the cross rail. Reign Day walked over the trot poles and stepped over the cross rail. The other horses trotted the poles jumped the cross rail. Then, I trotted Reign Day over the poles and trotting over the cross rail. Perfect! We trotted over the poles and the cross rail a few more times just to be sure he understood the exercise.
Andi and Granya did the exercise and they did fine until I told them to add the second jump. It looked so easy but the horses kept running out on the turn because the riders were not riding the fence or looking ahead to the turn. Chanago was getting strong and getting quick and Granya had her hands full making the turn. Aly’s Alpha Boy missed the turn because Andi was not thinking ahead so I decided to show them how to slow down and look where they were going.
I used Reign Day as my demo horse. He trotted in over the cross rail and trotted out over the second fence on the right side with no problems! They all complained that we could do it because we were only trotting. So next time around I took Reign Day just over the first jump but I asked him to jump it. He did and he cantered quietly around to present to the jump again. I brought him back to the trot and we trotted over the rails and over the cross rail but we cantered and jumped the second fence. We went around and did it again! Everyone called me a show-off but it was easy on Reign Day because he listens to my seat and he stays collected.
Next we did the left fork of the Y with the larger jump. The first time to the left he jumped the first cross rail but was surprised at the second fence being larger. He almost stopped but I asked him to step over the jump. He did but he pulled it over because he did not pick up his feet. He did not spook so we put up the fence again and this time through he hit the first jump and knocked the rail. When he got to the second fence he said, “I am not going to let this fence touch my feet” and we did our first real jump. You can see from the photo that he has some good jumping form. I wish mine were better but he took me by surprise.
Reign Day was so proud of himself. You can feel him puff up every time he gets praised. Next we opened the arena gate while mounted and headed to the woods for another trail ride – this time with Chanago, Pull and Aly.
Unfortunately our photographer did not follow us to the woods but let me tell you about the ride. Reign Day walked over the creek with very little persuasion necessary. We trotted the trails this time which made the other horses happy. We went on some new trails and we went over all the logs in the photos from yesterday. This time we jumped them! We also jumped an 18 inch log fence and another 18 inch log fence that is a drop. This horse loves to jump and he was quiet and well behaved even being last in line.
At one point I left the group and Andi and Aly followed me. We trotted up the hill and jumped a series of single small logs one after another. We came around and jumped several other small fences and joined the group by jumping over the drop fence. We then walked across the creek and quietly back to the barn. Reign Day was happy and calm the entire time. We even had our Doberman, Miss Syndey, with us in the woods today and most of the time she was at Reign Day’s heels. When she was not there she was loping through the brush and leaves making noises that none of the horses paid any attention to.
I LOVE THIS HORSE! This is a very special horse. To wrap up the week here is what we accomplished: Reign Day cantered for the first time, rode in draw reins for the first time, jumped gymnastics for the first time, trail rode for the first time and jumped our first cross country fences. Wow! What a week.