After the Beth Perkins clinic, I figured one of three things was going on. In pretty much reverse order of gut check:
- Pony needed more time, mileage, and a kick or two in the pants to get back online with this job.
- A riding problem. I was wondering if maybe after rebalancing him I didn’t move him up enough to make him feel confident.
- His front feet hurt.
After watching the video, a few things stood out for me:
- His form is slightly off. He’s overjumping and getting his lower leg up tight but he’s not using his forearms the way he normally does.
- He’s preferring to jump plain things and really feels like he does not want to go over lookier fences.
- He’s trying very hard to run through my half halts. He only runs when he’s worried.
- He’s more willing at up fences than down ones.
- Twice I can see we get to the perfect distance, but he pats the ground again.
- He’s crooked, especially in the last stride and in the air.
Unfortunately, these are really familiar. The indications aren’t as strong as when we finally figured out he wanted front shoes in our last season, but I promised myself I would listen to him, and my instincts, sooner next time. Now that he has shoes, it would have to be something else.
Instead of getting better with more xc exposure, he’s been getting worse. He was just as sticky at the end of Sunday as he was at the beginning. For me this lobbies against #1 being the culprit. Then there is the fact that he’s always tried for me. Yes, he is a silly little pony, and he spooks at his shadow, but he wants to please. For all his looking, he has actually rarely stopped with me, and almost never when there wasn’t something making him uncomfortable.
I was really hoping for #2, because I know I can fix a riding problem. But I woke up Monday morning feeling kind of depressed. I knew, knew knew deep down that I’ve been giving him a pretty decent ride, and that he doesn’t have a mental problem (well, aside from the ones we can already describe very well). But off to Scarlet we went this morning to get a professional opinion from someone who will definitely tell me if I’m screwing things up.
We were ready with the tack changes Beth recommended, and I knew I needed to stud although I didn’t relish the thought at all given how bad he was to put hind shoes on. But he stood quietly while I cleaned and tapped and wrenched in the parking lot, in the rain. Good pony.
He warmed up okay. The hardware didn’t feel like too much and wearing studs for the first time wasn’t bothering him.
Then we jumped.
He was all right over a couple of logs. Denise had me make some adjustments. He looked hard at a couple of plainish things, but went. Then he dead stopped at a light colored wood feeder, got smacked, and crawled over it the second time. Crawling over is something he’s never, ever done before. Jumped up the bank well and over another uphill log stack then scared me half to death crawling over some bushes with a rail on top.
Both times he got there very well, but the jump was the kind of scary you never want to see, or sit on top of. After the second one, I was done. I know that something’s the matter.
I could be wrong, but I just know I’m not.
So vet next. I’ll have to ask if I should even flat him in the meantime, and I’m still thinking of doing King Oak as a dressage show, but I will probably scratch. I am pretty bummed out as I’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time – since fall 2010! Horses…it’s always something, right?
I have lots of blessings to count and am going to save my tears for the occasion of an unfixable front foot issue, which will leave me with two unrideable equines in the back yard. I believe the term is “lawn ornament” :)