Normally, Zin is a pretty level headed, non-spooky horse and for that I am very grateful. I remember the first time I took her on a trail ride, we went to this local place called Annadel. I didn’t even think about it before we went, but once we got there I remembered how busy it could get on the weekends and there were SO MANY MOUNTAIN BIKERS. Zin couldn’t care less about the bikes, or the large group of horses we went with, or the less than ideal footing or the water crossing. Writing this makes me remember that I love trail riding and need to do it more!
She’s also pretty much jumped everything I’ve put in front of her – including a blow up orca that we placed under a jump
(As a side note, I’m obsessed with killer whales and marine mammals in general…..in case anyone was wondering why I happened to have an orca pool toy). Where I board at, we have to walk down a hill to get to the arena and then back up to get back to the barn. The days I have to bring my daughter to the barn with me, I able to walk Zin along side the stroller without her losing her mind.
So when my trainer decided to put a liverpool in the jump arena, I didn’t think much of it. But horses are strange and Zin had other ideas. I remember the first lesson I had with “it” in the arena and I didn’t even really pay any attention to it. We had jumped a bit and were walking around on a loose rein when she passed the liver pool. I’m not sure what it was – if she just happened to notice it then ,or happened to kick some sand onto it and made a noise, who knows. But in that moment she decided she was having none of this business with the liver pool and spooked and darted away. Since we were on a loose rein and I was completely relaxed in the saddle when she did this, I’m just glad I stayed on! We carried on with our lesson, stayed mostly away from it and I didn’t think much of it.
If only Zin could have forgotten it so easily. The jump lesson after that did NOT go well. She was so incredibly distracted and would jump the fence in front of her (reluctantly), but not notice it until literally the very last second. She was so busy looking for the liverpool that she wasn’t focusing on the job at hand. We only had two jump lessons with “it” before heading off to Fresno for our second event of the season. Zin was really good at the show and jumped a double clear in both rounds. We did have some issues in stadium (i.e: not turning, haha), and in stadium I didn’t really feel like she was attacking the jumps like she normally di. Cross country was completely different and she was back to hunting the jumps down, which is SUCH a nice feeling!
We went back home and had the same issues jumping. She was still being a good girl, but had just lost a bit of her confidence and I subsequently lost mine. The weekend after Fresno we were off to school cross country at Woodside and she was GREAT. But …. as soon as we got home her confidence took a hit. We had one jump lesson at the beginning of last week where she wouldn’t even go over a pole on the ground. My confidence was so shot and I even contemplated scratching Woodside – where had my once brave horse gone? After that, my trainer said enough was enough and he took “it” out of the arena.
Our next jump lesson was Saturday (5/19) and the first one we had had in about a month without “it” in the arena. And Zin was SO good. She was a little backed off at first, but once she realized the liverpool wasn’t in the ring anymore she was brave, bold, and taking me to the fences again – except for one fence. My trainer had rearranged the jumps, but kept the jump where the liverpool used to be under in the same spot. He added a second fence after it to make it part of a one stride. As we approached it for the first time, I honestly didn’t think anything of it …. she had been jumping around great. And then she slammed on the brakes. At first I was like “WTF!!” and then we both realized – it was where the liverpool had been!! She did slam on the breaks and then leap over it, which resulted in me grabbing my jump strap to not catch her in the mouth …. and then of course the jump strap broke and we can file this under the “WTF/shit that never happens but of course happened to me” category.
Honestly, I had no idea one little object could instill so much chaos in any horse, let alone Zin. It was really a confidence shaker to have her be so backwards to fences, especially when we are preparing to move up a level. Our last jump lesson before leaving to Woodside was last Wednesday and she was PERFECT. She was bold and forward and a s a result I got MY confidence back and finally was able to really ride again. I was able to sit down and wait for the fences and know she was taking me to them. We had this two stride line that she was just PERFECT for – when it was set up with the liver pool in the ring, we were riding so backwards to it and it resulted in horrific jumps. I was so happy to have Zin back to her normal self again. It’s such a good feeling to have a horse take you to the fence and I need to not take it for granted. While I don’t think the liverpool set us back really (aside from my confidence), we definitely didn’t have room to really grow over the last few weeks. But what it DID teach me was to ride every fence and not just count on her jumping whatever I point her at.
In other news, we got to Woodside bright and early this morning (to avoid the parking chaos that happens if you get there past 9AM) and Zinnie settled in great. Zin was literally fantastic for our warm up ride today – we kept it short and simple and my trainer said “Well, that was one of the easiest lessons I ever gave”. Zin was soft and supple and relaxed – she really surprised me! I hope I can give her a good ride tomorrow and replicate the ride we got this evening. The novice test A is a test we haven’t ridden before, so I hope I remember it! I mean, I know I will remember it (as I knock furiously on wood), but you guys know what I mean. I just keep running through it in my head over and over again while visualizing myself riding it. Yes, I am crazy :).
My daughter, who is about 18 months, is tagging along for her second horse show, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of my mom. My mom helps take care of her throughout the day while I can focus on riding and taking care of Zin – it really does take a village and I’m so happy with my support system!