Sunday, August 19, 2007

Free Jumping

To get Brego back into the swing of jumping, I spent the morning putting together a free jumping chute and letting him work out the jumping kinks unencumbered. And there were lots of kinks to work out. Putting it delicately, Brego is "enthusiasm-challenged" these days. It's hot and humid and he doesn't really like me chasing him around with a longe whip. Which is unfortunate, because it's darn good for him and his, er, dominance issue.

After a rousing session in the round pen, just working on walk/trot transitions interspersed with his predictable bucking temper tantrums at said longe whip, we attempted the chute. The course was a three jump gymnastic with a leading 9' canter pole. Each jump was a one stride. The first two jumps were set a 2'2" and the last was an oxer that I eventually raised to 3'1".

So Brego figured out how the chute works pretty quickly: You trot away from human with the longe whip (occasionally throwing in a buck to show your displeasure at being chased), jump over a few piddly jumps and then stop and eat luscious grass and a nice big cookie at the end. Not a bad way to earn a living.

Short video of the first two fences set up.
Angry Brego makes down all three set at 2'2".

After the first couple of times through the chute, it was very obvious that the original spacing between the jumps would only work if Brego was a pony. They were set according to a 12' stride ala Wofford's excellent treatise on the subject. Brego has something like a 14' stride, even bigger if he's really moving forward. And one of the fun things about being green is that you can change your stride every time through the chute and the silly humans can never set it just right for you. So at the beginning, when Brego was full of himself and still interested, the distances were too short and so I pushed them out to 21' between fences instead of the 18' described in my handy book. Towards the end, when the heat really set it, he was reaching to make those distances, so I brought them back to 20'. Finally, when I raised the final oxer to 3', he setup for it more, and the distance was tight again.

Anyway, I managed not to kill or maim him during this exercise and he did get more proficient towards the end. Although I will be the first to agree that he needs lots more work of this sort to really use himself properly. And it would help if I could work him out of his sulking phase, he looked downright angry most of the time. Even at 3', he was jumping ok, but he was not really pushing off from his hind end with any power, just sort of popping over the fence. And there were plenty of sloppy knockdowns. But at least he proved that 3' doesn't phase him in the slightest, and it is the highest I would expect him to compete at, so now it's all about refining his form and strengthening his hind end.

I think I will ride him this week over a small course and see if I can get a little more impulsion out of him. And then he'll be back in the chute next week to nail down those distances.

More still pictures on Flickr.


Ligeda said...

I think he quite a nice jumper! I have noticed that it takes about 2/3 longer to get a horse fit than I would have thought in the beginning. He has a lot of weight to fling over that jump...I know exactly how he feels...hahaha L.

Daun said...

Thanks for your kind words! Conditioning and fitness is a constant concern, especially in the dead of summer. If he is still as unmotivated when it's cooler and he's in better shape, then I will have to reevaluate his eventing career! :)

Anonymous said...

Is he purebred? He is an unusual colour! What a stunner.

I rode my Clyde/percheron cross in a few different events (baby levels of course) and found he was a 'lurcher' over the jumps also - not much push over from behind and never knocked a rail down with forelegs, only from dragging his butt over with not enough oomph.

Kudos to you for even working with such a horse. the 'Clumper Club' is an international pasttime it seems!

Anonymous said...

The picture of Brego jumping over the curvy tree is AMAZING!! He is a true athlete and you two make a really good pair.

Daun said...

Thanks for your kind words! I am quite fond of that photo. ;)