Bella jumps 3 ft!
If you’ve actually read any of my prior posts you may have read the one where jumping 3ft by the end of this fall was one of my 2017 goals. Well, we did it!
Because of our anxiety issues (am I talking about myself or the horse here?) I’d been pretty lax on actually jumping. Then there was the rotation where Bella went barefoot instead of having shoes on because she kept throwing them. Not to mention when she got kicked this spring and then somehow punctured herself a couple of months ago. Honestly, I haven’t jumped a lot this year (5, maybe 6, times since this spring) and so it was starting to look like 3ft might not be possible.
But what I did do was spend a LOT of time conditioning her and working on building up muscle. Lots of trot sets, lots of canter work. Lots and lots of focusing on getting her to “sit back” some and really power forward again. The first time she was really ON with it she ended up clipping the back of her heel and then bruised her foot. Cue the next month and a half of not wanting to because she might hurt herself again. So we worked through that. Got shoes back on. Then her anxiety really spiked and I had to step back.
Thanks to the new calming supplement she’s been better than ever. Because she hadn’t lost any muscle, and because she advanced from 2′ to 2’3″ to 2’6″ without any issues I decided to just go for it. She probably won’t get jumped again for at least another month and it certainly won’t be 3′ when we do jump again. But I know this horse is fit, capable, and she’s finally riding like herself again. The only thing that was holding us back was me.
I certainly had some reservations about it. Let’s be honest, I don’t like the idea of over facing my horse, over jumping my horse, or doing anything that might impact us negatively. But there’s a fine line between being cautious and holding yourself back. So I bit the bullet and wen’t for it.
We warmed up super well, Bella was spot on, she was listening, she was focused, she was certainly more “up” as she always has been over fences but instead of just being unreasonable she was allowing herself to be calmed down and redirected. I couldn’t have asked for a better horse. I told myself if she didn’t feel capable, I wouldn’t do it. She felt capable.
The first time we came into the 3′ jump she got really amped up and was fighting me the entire time. I sat back and held my ground which proved to be a solid lesson for us both. She cleared it with her front and nailed it with her hind, which isn’t shocking. I’ve never particularly cared for the way she carries her hind end over fences. She brought down the rail. I hopped off, set it up, and got her moving again. I spent the next few minutes calming her down and redirecting her into a focused canter. When we came through a again she nailed it, I nailed it, she was fantastic. I honestly forgot what an amazing feeling it is to ride her when she’s really there. It’s incredible.
We jumped that jump a total of 5 times, including the time she knocked the rail down. Four times she got over it clean, 3 times she was really rocked back on her hind-end, one of those times I let her just sort of get up to it quickly on her own terms and followed through. I could not be more proud of her. We’re dropping heights again, I’ll probably start working her through some basic exercises. We won’t jump again until mid to late December, depending on how the weather is by then, and hopefully next spring I’ll return to jumping once a week/ever two weeks. With an overall goal of being able to compete again in 2018.
To wrap this up, here’s some blurry screenshots from a video a friend & fellow boarder took at the very end of my ride.