Sunday, March 2, 2014


Things are looking up. 

Harley, dressage saddle.  Longed him warmup, and included over-three ground poles at canter distance.  Lazy.  Just lazy.  It wasn't until I popped the whip with force and growled at him that he finally even tried to canter over them. 

Under saddle - rode the three ground poles at canter.   Then three poles on the straight away (trot then canter).   Things were good.  A bit lazy, and sometimes rather than reach hard, he'd break to trot.  I did feel a few "little canter strides" before the poles, which seemed like a good thing. 

Trotted over two different X's,  one a bit shorter than the other.  Barely stepping over them.  And I mean barely.  It was near painful to feel like I was winding him up for a ... step ... boo hiss.

Sent him to it at canter right-lead.  The more difficult to jump from, at least over the ground poles it's more difficult.  He broke once, then cantered the ground pole, X, pole.  Another break in gait, and another pretty canter.  The last one, in fact, was gorgeous - he set his strides up perfectly for it, and while I felt like I was leaning too far forward, I had a handful of mane over the line, and things went well.  He cantered a stride or two away from it, then settled to trot.

Went back to it from the left.  Trotted over once, he knocked one of the X rails over.  Pathetic.  I hopped off and set it back up.  I stood there a minute.  I "played the good canter over in my head", and decided no matter what we got, trot or otherwise, if he at least tried, he'd get praise. Courage is being scared, but saddling up and doing it anyways, I remembered.  Let's get this party started. 

First canter depart, he broke to trot as soon as I turned him down the line to see the jump.  I turned him away on a circle.  Next time, he had a huge trip a ways in front of the jump.  Back on the circle again.  Finally, I was determined.  A tap of the whip and a harsh growl, "Come ON already!", and Harley was ready for action.

He cantered right up to the ground pole, stepped over the jump, the following pole, then went back to canter, licking & chewing.  I took that as an "I'm sorry, let me try again."  So right back to it we went.

Cantered over it most beautifully.  After the pole, Jump, pole, a stride or two, then back to trot.  I gave him a good verbal praise and a huge pat... Asked him on the short side corner before the line to canter again, and sent him to it again.  More of the same.  A really nice canter over the X. 

It was the bigger of the two X's I had set up, so I didn't even bother with the smaller one.  It's time to pick that bigger X back up to where it used to be - fourth hole up on the standard.  Send him to it at the trot, then again at the canter. 

I think we're slowly working past it.  I'm probably mentally hesitating in front of the jump, my little subconscious sees the huge over-jump he had.  Harley feels it, and probably sees the same fear again, then breaks gait.  It's okay  -  baby steps.  I'm getting a little more courageous, and so is he.

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