Posted by: shannonc | September 24, 2009

Pride and Ponyjuice

Instructor:  okay, so this loop go jump the Novice log pile…

…that Novice birch…

…the big ditch…

…log into water…

…up bank out of the water…

…drop jump…

…one stride steps…

…gallop up the hill to the stone wall…

…back over those barrels…

…around to the tiki hut in the decorated direction.

Me:  errrm…okay… *attempts to nod as though not somewhat terrified*

Pony:  *pricks ears* 


A lot of new stuff for us today as we had our last school before the Groton House Fall Classic, our second BN.  In the past, the last school before the event has been reserved for confidence-building exercises, little easy courses the pony can eat up before going somewhere strange and competing.  Today, all the stops came out instead.  This is, in my mind, a somewhat risky proposition, but I also know now that if something doesn’t go well, he isn’t likely to dwell on it and hold a grudge, so I figured (because I needed to rationalize somehow!) we could always backpedal if needed.  And I am the one who said, before King Oak, if there are going to be stops, let’s have them before we go.

Don’t you hate it when your words come back to haunt you?

The pony and I have in common that we are both thinkers.  Today, apparently, one of us was thinking about how to figure out new stuff.  One of us was thinking that 2’6″ just started looking not scary, what’s all this about three feet? 

Well.  When it comes to eventing and famous art, the pony is a little Rodin, and I’m a cheap knockoff.  What a good, brave pony he was.  He’s never seen most of these jumps – certainly not the tiki hut, which I’ve been giving the hairy eyeball all summer long, hoping no one would point us at it till well into next season.  I had to stuff him from a near standstill over the barrels the first time, because I made a turn inside some other jumps I clearly (isn’t hindsight wonderful) should have gone outside – he got locked on them and was nowhere near straight or focused when the barrels came up – but we got over them.  We tried cantering the ditch, and that resulted in another stuff and overjump – he still needs more processing time before he feels he can do that.  He ran away with me once, coming down the hill after the down log.  He jumped a couple of things a bit awkwardly, like the down bank into water and the steps.  All questions he was seeing for the first time ever.  But no stops.

And then he came back the second time and negotiated every single question like he’d done so twenty times before.  And happily.  No problem, Mom, I get it now.  I just needed a little chance to figure it out.  I’m a smart pony, huh?

As for the tiki hut.  It was perfect the first time!  Oh, he gave it a good hard look and backed off.  But he listened and let me keep riding forward to it, he kept his engine, got a great distance, and the jump itself felt fantastic.

Never in a million years would I have predicted we’d be schooling any N this year.  Someone needs to pinch me.

I have plenty to think about accomplishing Sunday riding wise.  He still looks and questions, and needs me to ride him positively.  He still needs a lot of support to be straight – the ribcage likes to go everywhere.  I still need time to organize both of us so that I can ride him softly forward to things – as he’s gotten bolder and begun to gallop on a little, I’m getting stuck again sometimes in the simultaneous pull-and-kick.  Questions that come close together are difficult – he does land and look for the next, but when it’s coming up in a short space he’s nowhere close to on autopilot, he’s manual transmission all the way.  I need to assess and adjust quickly to help him, and sometimes I’m not quite quick enough.  Terrain is a similar challenge, especially downhill.  Green pony rules still apply, but they’re changing a little:  mostly, his options are increasing as his repertoire expands.  So I have to do a good job taking his temperature frequently and accurately, and then ride what I have effectively.  I’m not quite sure I can do all that without errors.  Scratch that.  I know I’m going to make errors!

But somewhere along the line, the pony determined that he was going to come out each time trying very hard.  And the least I can do is the same!



  1. “Ponyjuice” ;)

  2. You’re both doing GREAT! Yeah, Ponyjuice, cute!

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