Thursday, May 7, 2009

How do you know?

It's been raining nonstop for three days now, so I have no excited Brego news to report.  I thought I might take this opportunity to answer a question I was asked recently, however.

How/When did I know Brego could jump?  What was my "aha" moment?

I actually had to think about this question for a couple of days, talk to my old trainers/friends who knew us way back when, recollect our first few forays into jumping.  The earliest post on this blog is of our first cross country schooling, and Brego was already pretty solid over wee fences back then (but oh my, look at that mane!!).  It was July of 2007, and I had started jumping in March of 2007.

I really didn't start with a plan for greatness.  I was just tooling around, wanted to see what he could do.  Jumping is good cross training to make quick feet, if nothing else.  Doing cavellettis, small grids, etc, are good for all horses, who are otherwise sound and healthy.

The first two or three lessons where disasters. He really wanted to just rear over fences, no push at all.

Things started to look up when we started free jumping in a chute.  He was able to focus on jumping without my riding being a distraction.  He started to figure out how to push.

The work got better and we started to get a little more correct, a lot more willing, we starting to have fun.

But the honest answer is that I still don't know if Brego is good at jumping.  I think he enjoys it, I think he is getting better, but he does things that may cut his career short, like the front foot tap, unless I can school him out of it.  I think he enjoys it because he is honest to fences.  He will always take the fence, even when I leave the door wide open to run out. 

Everyday is an exercise in listening to the horse.  His work is on his terms.  If tomorrow, he decided he didn't want to jump, it scared him or there was some undiagnosed pain, I would pick up on it and we would stop.  I think this should be true of all horses in sport, but it's especially true of horses that are "not suitable" for sport.  

I guess my point is, there is no magic test for ANY horse.  Thoroughbreds, warmbloods, any light horse is expected to know how to jump, but not all enjoy it, and maybe some get pushed because of that expectation.  Drafts are expected not to jump and perhaps they get overlooked because of that expectation.  But it really is up to the individual, and it should be up to the individual.

In all honesty, if I was going to compete seriously in eventing or jumping, I would not look specifically at a draft horse, but I think everyone knows that.  I bought Brego for another purpose, but he's been a good sport and a lot of fun to partner up with on whatever crazy whim strikes my fancy.  I work harder than I should to keep him schooled and safe for jumping.  I would certainly be farther along if I had a more appropriate horse.  Perhaps.  But although I love competing, it's not about competing for me.  Not about being top in my class.  It's about being top in my class with this horse.  He's my boy.

We'll keep doing what we're doing until Brego doesn't want to do it anymore.  Then we'll go try something else, perhaps Long Riding.  ;)


SolitaireMare said...

Hi! Please stop on by my blog and pick up your Kreativ Blogger award! :)

Anonymous said...

He looks to have pretty good form over fences. My daughter used to have a problem with her mare wanting to take an extra short stride right in front of fences, and we found out at a Mark Rashid clinic that it was my daughter's doing - she was exhaling right in front of the fence and the mare was responding to that with the chip! It was amazing, I don't know how he saw it, but as soon as she concentrated on keeping her breathing regular coming to the fence, the problem disappeared - instantly. Something like that might be affecting Brego's jumping, but then maybe not. It's great that you're focussed on enjoying him and working with him in ways that are fun for him as well.

Beckz said...

Lol, I remember all of these pictures. He has certainly come a hell of a long way from the start of your blog.

Anonymous said...

So many things rang true for me in this post! I have had many people ask when I am going to sell Key and buy a 'real' horse that is more suitable to the pleasure world. I would probably win more HUS classes with a tall, leggy-looking hunter, but it's not about the ribbons or the points. It's about seeing where we can get.

I really enjoyed this. I can't wait to hear how he does on schooling three phase! :D

Susan Quinn said...

I love what you said about it not being about the competing. Brego's your boy.

I lost my old boy yesterday to laminitis. He was 24 years old and an old foxhunter. But to me, he was my friend. We never competed. But we sure shared alot of wonderful times together not the least of which was the last sunset we soaked in together the other night. I think we both knew it was our last day together and my old boy just snuggled his head into my neck for about 15 minutes as we just felt the love we shared.

It's really not about the competing, folks. It's about the love and the connection we share with these wonderful creatures who give us so much.

Anonymous said...

Stopping by again to let you know that you have an award on my blog! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. It is just a totally inspiring story. I think I will read it many times over.

yep, we naturally assume that TBs and WBs can jump, and that drafts don't. Your boy can jump big enough for me...