First Jumper Show

IMG_20160825_082947I have never done a jumper show before, and I think I understand now why people love jumpers so much. It’s a lot of fun to test your skills zipping around a course as fast and clean as you can. Or, I imagine it would be. Our goal was to not zip, just to go around the course quiet and relaxed.

And you know what: We went off farm, I got on, and Midas listened in the warm up ring. He was good, we trotted both ways, then we went and got in line for the x rails course. Just to introduce him to the course. He was excited, but he listened well and went around pretty relaxed. We got a clean round and a good time (without trying for time). I was very pleased with him.

Then we loitered around for an hour while the x rails course finished up and the 18″ verticals class went.

As the hour passed between our classes, Midas knew he’d done a good job–stellar, even, especially considering his track record–he thought he was done, and he also knew it was dinnertime. So, when I woke him up to warm him up I could sense that he was offended about working more. I hoped we could just do our class and be done. Also, we hadn’t jumped warm up jumps before the x rails, and that had gone great, so I thought perhaps it would  be the same with the 2′ fences. In hindsight, I should have stayed in the warm up ring until he got over being offended. I should have taken the x rail and vertical in the warm up ring to discover his mood.

I was trying to help him get over being in work by not dwelling too long. It didn’t work. Our second class went horribly. Though, watching it later it doesn’t look that horrible up until the point I fell off. He was a handful, but mostly we were managing with extra circles to recover.

He was wound up, and shocked and offended, and I could feel him utterly coiled beneath me. He tried several times to get out of line while we were waiting, and when it was our turn to enter he tried to leave. He bucked and bolted after the first fence but I got him back and circled. I kept him from the second fence because I strongly suspected we’d have a buck and bolt on the other side of that one too. After a couple circles I felt his energy had shifted forward rather than up, and got him over with a reasonable recovery.  The third fence got a teeny buck and dart, which I recovered, circled and got him to fence four. I was approaching each fence like it was the only one. He took four without darting out of it, so I started to think we might be OK–not great, but maybe OK. But five and six were a line and I wondered if I should quit, knowing a line would give him the jump on me–literally.

Perhaps I should have quit.

Perhaps I should have pretended six wasn’t after five and sat up with the world’s biggest half halt in our two strides between fences.

Perhaps I should have sat up and ridden the fences like they were flat.

Any of those actions might have changed the fact that he jumped big on six and dislodged me, then I could’ve sworn he bucked–but in the video it wasn’t nearly the motion I felt, but just like that I was in the dust. I wasn’t embarrassed at the time, but watching the video I definitely am now!

So I left the ring and took him back to the warm up ring, got on, and spent the next half hour or so trotting the x rail and vertical in there. It only took a few times over the x rail (and one or two one rein stops before then) to get him listening again, and then I just did the vertical over and over waiting for him to take revenge. But he didn’t.

So we went back into the show ring–not to do the course, but to recover from it. We walked and trotted around–he was immediately worked up, and I just needed him to relax. So we trotted around–ooogled at the photographers laying in the grass outside the ring every single pass. After a little while I asked him to walk, did some half halts to focus on my release, focused on relaxing my legs, and then asked for trot and we did much better at achieving a relaxed trot. So it was time to try a fence.

On the recommendation of one of the show staff, we chose the straight approach to the four fence (since the other inviting fence was on the side with the scary photographers) and he trotted in and out like a good boy. No rushing. No bucking. Just a nice trot.

That’s a win. I let him walk and showered him with pats.

I was reflecting on the event and realizing that it did actually go much better than the dressage show. He came out and his first reaction was to be quite good. He knew he had been good, and he thought he was done–when he found out he wasn’t done, and the next thing was even harder, he just got more shocked and offended and worked up and then lost three years of training.

I think that if I had jumped him in warm up I would have been able to head off our disaster. I don’t think it would have been a great round, but I think I could have stayed on. So, lesson learned. After a long break, make sure to work him hard before asking for anything really hard.

 

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Suicide Squad and company

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Well, Zorro and I watched Suicide Squad and Batman vs Superman over the weekend.

I have a lot of thoughts skittering about, so for my own sake I’m writing them down.

I grew up watching Teen Titans and the Batman/Superman Adventures, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. I haven’t read a single DC comic book. But I’ve read pages here and there on Pinterest 😉

I know the whole “my disguise is glasses frames” thing is really thin, but why on earth does Lex Luther know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE???

Also….why is the Bat mobile tricked out with machine guns? Batman is a detective and a crime fighter, and he has this thing about guns. Yeah, he doesn’t use them. I can forgive the trippy dream sequences, because they were a worst case scenario and he would be horrified he was using guns. But really now, we’re messing with core Batman principles here. Things that set him apart.

While we’re on the topic: I would really like to see Batman the Detective more. DC’s movie people seem to be stuck on Batman the Superhero Goes To War, when not everything needs to be about the end of the world or the end of Gotham.

I could also here go on a rant that the reason Superman works is because he’s just a good guy trying to do good things…from what I heard about the Superman movie, they messed with that. It seemed like Batman v Superman was a lot of back pedalling to address the things everyone hated about the Superman Movie, and also to introduce Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and was that Cyborg? Very much a transitional film.

Also, these heroes hallucinate a lot. And there are random montages and things that really do not make sense. Yes, I caught the blurb from future Flash trying to warn Batman about someone (presumably Superman, but we don’t actually know that) but it was mostly just mystifying.

We all know why Superman figures out who Batman is, but Batman is never shown putting any thought at all in figuring out Superman’s identity (contrast: the Batman/Superman adventures, they get that hurdle out of the way pretty quickly) and why on earth does Lex Luther know everything about everyone??? 


Speaking of Lex. He talked about his father so much I wondered if they were trying to imply that he was bald Lex’s son. But I guess since he goes bald at the end he must be THE Lex Luther. Except he’s not. He’s not the genius business tycoon who is essentially Bad Bald Batman–this Lex truly felt more like a Joker or Scarecrow character.

There isn’t going to be much left in the world if they keep destroying cities at this rate. I mean…Metropolis has been devastated. They made it a point in Batman v Superman to say repeatedly that the city had been (magically) evacuated and the bulk of the fight was in a huuuuge abandoned dockyard…which is now much flatter than it used to be. It was almost entertaining how they were very, very careful to say that about each fight location.

And Suicide Squad…Midway City got a little devastated (by the bad guys, at least) and the US military got a serious beating around the world. We’re talking fleets and bases are gone now. Just gone.

So I feel like they are sort of trying to tone it down after the audience reaction to that Superman movie…but they aren’t actually succeeding a lot.

So. Suicide Squad. I actually liked it. I know, right? Amanda Waller was definitely Amanda Waller, lifted perfectly out of the animated world and brought to life by Viola Davis. It seems that DC’s live action predisposition to darkness has finally found a home in villains. Deadshot is an intensely likable assassin perfectly played by Will Smith, Harly Quinn is extremely well done, Boomerang was entirely unnecessary to the plot, and Joker…well…Joker….he wasn’t as important as Jared Leto seems to think. I feel that the mad clown might just be doomed as a live action villain. I appreciated Heath Ledger’s version of Joker–the Joker you weren’t actually sure was mad–but I wish they would take a hint from the animated series and tone down the disturbing stuff. I think that I am mostly stuck on his torture of Harley (since they also appear to have a love you just want to root for, which is so uncomfortable) and his teeth. And how the actor misapplied method acting and was a truly impressive jerk to his co-stars. Something that was really unnecessary on so many levels I’ve lost count.

**Edit: I should add that Killer Croc was a fun character to have around. He’s one of the villains utterly overlooked by live action Batman flicks, perhaps because he’s so simple. (Ever watched the “Almost Got ‘im” episode? So good!) And Angelo’s fire character was a great foil for everyone else, and a refreshing and unexpected glimpse of someone with nothing to prove, just things to atone for.)**

But Suicide Squad, and the recent trailers for Wonder Woman and the teaser for the Justice League….I have hope. I might actually enjoy the next few DC movies. That would be so nice…

Midas

Several years ago Midas became my project. I’d ridden his stablemate, a retired show pony, and then trained a boarder, a gaited pasture potato, and when the pony and the boarder were gone…it was Midas’ turn.

He was a big bully.  A really big bully. On the ground, and even worse in the saddle.

I was a good rider, but day 1 consisted of him bolting with me, and it just didn’t go great from there. He was reasonably well behaved for my teenage brother-in-law (who he chose from a distance as his favorite human), but it still wasn’t pretty and bolts were a part of life. Much to everyone’s frustration.

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I knew that I needed to work hard to bring this horse to a place where he was a trustworthy citizen. I also needed to use diplomacy. Besides the fact that harsh methods aren’t any good to start with, they would have never worked on Midas. He’s too big and strong, and he is fully aware he is big and strong.

So I made Midas an offer: If you will walk beside me quietly, I won’t apply any pressure at all to the lead rope. In fact, I’ll let go entirely with my right hand. Midas was a little surprised, but readily agreed.

Soon I offered to forgo the lead rope entirely, he agreed to that, too. Suddenly my big bully was walking at my elbow, anyone’s elbow, without a rope to keep him there.

That was the beginning. The idea born from a childhood of Marguerite Henry books, Monty Roberts, Xenophon and a good riding instructor.

From there, I watched a Tommy Turvey clinic on liberty work, then I was introduced by my trainer to Clinton Anderson’s green book (Downunder Horsemanship) and then Buck Brannaman. Midas now has impeccable ground manners. He is reasonably controlled at liberty–and under saddle we’re actually working on dressage concepts like straightness and impulsion and collection rather than just “don’t veer, don’t speed.” Plus, we can cool out on a long rein, which was a major milestone for us. Now it’s a way of life, and when I dismount I take his bridle off and he follows me to the barn for his rub down or bath.

I’ve also realized that I’ve always cared more about horse training than a particular discipline in the horse world. A lot of the show ring stuff is actually useless. Real riding, real horsemanship, is the same across all the disciplines. And I love it. 

We’ve come so far: I’ve learned a ton, and we’ve had a lot of fun.

There is so much more to learn.

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Midas, parked where I left him. Waiting patiently for me to come back for him. 

Introductions

I write stories. That’s the big thing.

I also draw. I’ve got some art and a variety of products for sale on Redbubble.

Horses are my other hobby. Hobby…life passion…you know…I’m a pretty serious horse geek and over the past few years have been learning a lot about retraining mature horses. It’s a blast.

I like to cook–convenient since we have to eat–and enjoy style, so all these things will trickle out onto the blog now and then. Most often, though, it’ll  be geeky movie stuff and horse stuff. I would love for you to hang around!

If you want to read my fiction stories you should check out Zare Caspian and follow along.