Friday, September 3, 2010

Cross Rail Fail

Hurricane Earl turned out to be a bust, no rain at all and it wasn't even that windy. We could really use the rain. But, it did cool off this evening and is supposed to stay cool for a bit. So, that's nice.

Since I suspect Spider has a stifle issue due to his tripping behind, dragging his hind feet in lateral work and not wanting to cross over behind, I've been looking for ideas and exercises to help him with that. So far we've been trotting and cantering on a hill, going over cavaletti and doing lots of transitions, but I'm always on the lookout for fun new things to try. One idea that came up was jumping over crossrails.

Before I bought Spider, he was a jumper. The details of his past life are a little sketchy. I bought him through a broker, you know how that is. The only thing I was told is that he had jumped up to three feet, but gotten "wild over the jumps". He was being sold as a dressage prospect. In the four years that I have owned him, I have never intentionally put him over a jump. I'm a dressage rider, I feel that things tend to go better when the horse's feet are on the ground. However, the first time I tried to trot him over cavaletti he jumped them, much to my surprise. He will still try to jump over them if I put them too far apart. Or if we haven't used cavaletti in awhile. Or if he just feels like annoying me that day.

So, I thought it might be fun to set up a little crossrail and lunge him over it. I don't have proper jump standards, or even those plastic blocks for setting up ground poles, but I had some old spools that the electric fence had come on. They're about six inches high, which I felt was a pretty good height for making crossrails. So, I brought them out to the arena, set the cavaletti on them to make a little crossrail and we were set.

I brought Spider over to see it, walked him over it a couple times and then set about warming up. After he was warmed up, I aimed him towards my nifty little jump. He slammed on the brakes and refused it. I was shocked. It's barely six inches high. We tried again. This time he went around it.

At this point I noticed that he was starting to swish his tail. Spider never swishes his tail. Something about that crossrail was upsetting him. I tried a few more times to get him over it, but he was just getting more and more tense and it wasn't getting done. So, I took the crossrail down and set up the cavaletti. As soon as the evil crossrail was gone I had my usual happy Spider back and we finished up just fine.

I have no idea why he refused the jump. I suppose it might be a physical problem. Or perhaps he was just insulted and embarrassed by my redneck crossrail. But, I suspect he just doesn't care for jumping, and that's why he was sold as a dressage horse and not a jumper. Whatever it is, I don't think we'll try that again.

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  1. Boy, he sure sent a clear message. I wonder what the "wild over jumps" was about? Anxiety? Accident? Injury?

    Glad you are focusing him on what he excels at.

    And LOL on the red neck cross rail!

  2. WOAW that was a BIG change in his behaviour O_o

    Perhaps they "made" him jump HARD. Now he does not want to jump. In his head, jump means pain physical and mental.

    You are a good listener, to have changed verything. But I come to understand that TB/Anglo-Arab/Arab are senitive horses. Two of my friends have Anglo-Arab, what horses. They are beautiful, athletic and intelligent and willing, but if they become upset, they are real nutters.
    Interesting type of horses ...

    I am glad Earl was nothing ;-)

  3. Stifles can hurt when a horse jumps - perhaps he was just saying that it would hurt him to jump. Just walking over a pole on the ground could help build up muscle around the stifle area without putting things under too much strain. Good for you for not forcing the issue.

  4. It would be nice if you could get Spider to simply trot over the cross rail, though. Good for his brain and it might help him get over his aversion. If you could just put one rail up on the side and trot him over that, then put that rail down and then put up the other one and trot, and then trot the crossrail, he might do it, as long as he understands he doesn't actually have to jump. Guess it's my nature to want to try to cure something like that. know Spider far better than I do, and it may well be that not continuing was actually the best course. He certainly is not going to be a jumper, so there is no need to worry about it.

    Curious reaction on his part, regardless. "Wild over jumps" usually means to me rushing and uncontrolled, not refusing. Maybe they tried to beat him into submission or something. That kind of trauma leaves a strong impression on a sensitive horse.

  5. Hay Shannon:

    I may be stating the obvious, but did you have a ground line or just two poles making an X? Without a ground line the horse will not "see" the jump properly (I think it is a depth perception thing). I was told to always use a ground line and to never jump a fence from the opposite side of where the ground line is.

  6. Kate- That's why I didn't push him, I just couldn't be certain that it wasn't a physical issue.

    Jean- Good idea about only putting up one side to trot over. I think next time I have him go over cavaletti I'll try that.

    Ithorse- I'm not sure what a ground line is. If it's the pole you put on the ground in front of the jump, then yes, I did have one. LOL. I'm not a jumper. I came to dressage from western riding, so I don't know a lot of the lingo. Nothing is ever "stating the obvious with me". ;)


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