We went to a Pony Club benefit jumping day at Busy Bee Equestrian yesterday. They had a great idea- we paid $10 to enter and bought tickets for $2 a piece. Every time you wanted to take your horse in for a round you gave a ticket and could either follow the course that was posted or take 90 seconds to jump anything you wanted.
Jasper jumped right in the trailer yesterday morning, and by the time we got to my friend's barn to pick up her horse was sweating and shaking, as usual. He is so nervous in trailers and seems particularly nervous in mine. It's huge- I had to get an extra tall extra wide extra long 2 horse straight load so Alexandre could fit in it. Aluminum so my dad's wimpy truck can pull it. Maybe it's too big for him? I don't know, it does seem loud. I've duct taped all loose parts down to reduce noise. He's much, much better when there is another horse by him. He rode in a 2 horse straight load almost every day last year at this time when I was grooming for Jessica in order to get from her house to the barn, so I don't think it's a desensitization issue. I drive like a snail. I just don't know what else to do to make him more comfortable.
Melissa's horse loaded right up and rode great and by the time we got to Busy Bee they had started the trot pole class. Which went on for hours, literally. I had the lower enormous sand outdoor all to myself to warm up in- NO MUD!!! That was worth the trip right there. Our warm ups usually go like this:
Me: no, trot.
Me: no, we're trotting now.
Jasper: canter here?
Jasper: canter now?
Jasper: canter, right?
Jasper: okay, canter...
In Jasper's warm-up world, there are many cues for canter. A weight shift, a circle, a leg yield, a spook, a loud noise, a moldy hay bale, an eye twitch, a leaf floating by...
And then finally we canter. The arena is HUGE. I got in 2 point and let him canter the length of the arena right down the middle. By the 3rd or 4th time he had finally relaxed and I called it good. Maybe I should start out cantering, it just seems like we should have some sort of connection and responsiveness to leg first. Something to think about.
By the time we got up to the jumping arena the trot pole class was still happening. I took him in the warm up amongst lots and lots and lots of horses and he was great. We must have walked 50 laps until it was our turn to go in. I was thinking trot poles, schmot poles but hey, it was only 2 bucks so why not. Turns out there were horse eating jump parts set out for later use in the arena and he wouldn't even go near the far end. The trot poles themselves were not a problem, but going near the grey wall was. Eventually got through the course and then went around again leading Melissa's horse Mister who had never seen a jump course in his life. He was fantastic and didn't spook at anything.
The 12" course also took hours. Seemed like it anyway. We led Grace and Margie through once and they did great. Cantered around a second time and the spooking got a little better. After the 12" class things started thinning out and we jumped up to 2'3 basically over the same course as they raised the jumps. At 2'6 they put in a roll top, barrels, and a brush box. I really wasn't sure about any of it, and we had some hard looks and a few hesitant strides, but he went over everything the entire day without any refusals. Didn't always get our striding right and I did ask him to chip in rather than rush and leap. I am beginning to trust him more, and I'm sure the reverse is true as well. It's starting to feel like we might be developing a partnership. :)