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. ;)