So when we bought Millie almost two years ago (how time flies when you’re having fun) the plan was that within a year we would be competing enthusiastically (even if not successfully) at local shows, we would possibly be part of the riding club teams, would have done the odd hunter trial and would most definitely be jumping at home on a regular basis. None of this has happened.
This is mainly down to me and I am aware of that, I don’t have the same amount of time to invest into training as I did when I was 21, I am not half as brave as I was when I was 21 and I cant dedicate each and every weekend to driving around the country going to every show possible (as I did when I was 21) so Millie’s show jumping training has been pretty non existent. This saddens me as I love jumping, but I love jumping on a horse that also loves jumping. Millie wasn’t really jumping when we viewed her, but had apparently done a little bit with them (but then probably decided she didn’t feel the need to do it). But I decided to take a chance on her and thought ‘how hard can it be to get a horse (that was incidentally bred for show jumping) over a jump!?’
The answer = harder than you could ever imagine.
I didn’t have grand ambitions, I wasn’t asking Millie to contemplate the Olympics, heck I wasn’t even asking her to contemplate a whole course of jumps but the answer was still ‘no’.
Millie’s Sire is called ‘No Limit’; she has a brother called ‘No Worries’ and another sibling called ‘No Problem’. Millie should have been called ‘No F*cking Way Am I Doing That’
A little blurb about Millie’s (well known show jumping) sire that made me giggle and wonder if Millie was in fact adopted and no one told her:
“He has won numerous championships and classes – with a wonderful careful and scopey jump,”
“He seriously is something very special and is exciting news for British breeders – he is passing on his own abilities to his offspring.”
In all seriousness I know Millie has the ability to negotiate a course of jumps, in the right order and with some degree of control (although our performance going round a clear round class last year at a local riding club show would suggest otherwise). I know if she let herself (and I let her) she would enjoy it. And I know if I was more confident and pushed her a bit harder she/we could even be OK at it.
On the few occasions I have put some jumps up at home, the level of inconsistency with Millie as been staggering, so much so that I wondered if I had tacked up the correct horse.
The week can vary something like this:
Saturday: Tack up. Warm up. Ears go forward at sight of poles, eagerly pops cross pole, my mum up’s height and Millie doesn’t even notice. Up’s height again, jumps enthusiastically and clears by about a foot. Set up a couple of upright jumps of 2ft 9 and successfully clear them (style and brakes admittedly need fine tuning but over all very happy and feel a summer of shows coming on) – I have photos to prove (in case you think I may have actually dreamt this positive experience)
Tuesday: Tack up. Warm up. Whites of eyes show at sight of poles and head shakes left and right in a ‘oh no no no’ type of way. Snake towards cross pole, root self in front of cross pole, squeal indignantly when asked to possibly go over cross pole, begrudgingly walk through cross pole, scare self by scattering poles everywhere, try again and manage to get over cross pole (hurrah). Change to 1ft 6 straight pole. Millie is appalled we have even suggested such a thing so has nervous breakdown and gets put back into field to get over the trauma.
Thursday: Tack up. Don’t warm up as can’t even get on. No jumping.
SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT (or don’t shape up and just carry on doing exactly what you want)
So with winter coming to a close (allegedly) and the riding club newsletter teasing me with ‘members needed for show jumping team’ I started to go through a ‘feel sorry for myself’ phase and decided 2 years has been long enough pussy footing around and not getting anywhere and as much as I am really enjoying putting in the hours of flatwork training and would be more than happy to turn my attention to dressage if Millie decided that was her preferred discipline, there would still be a niggling desire to want to be able to go to a show and at least get round a novice course without a) swearing, b) crying, c) not jumping any of the jumps and d) doing 2 out of control laps of honour around the ring after each jump that we do actually manage to get over.
So it was decided that 2013 would be the year that Millie and me would by hook or by crook get around a course of jumps without totally disgracing ourselves (this is still in discussion) but we started with a little jumping lesson – it went as follows:
SESSION ONE OF MILLIE’S JUMPING BOOTCAMP (tantrums and tiaras)
Eventful and entertaining if nothing else. Millie predictably felt abused and offended that we had dared ask her to consider going over a jump. We asked nicely (she said no) we asked a bit more firmly (she planted self to ground shaking), we ignored her (she got pissed off), she was outnumbered and decided to have a little girly huff and cat leap over it (congratulated herself and decided enough was enough).
Once challenged she decided it wasn’t actually too torturous to go over these little jumps and I swear just for one little cotton picking minute she actually let out a little smile (although she would furiously deny such cooperative and joyful behaviour).
Things were going OK until she decided with no negotiation that she was done for the day, most horses would either slow down, or stop or begrudgingly carry on a little while longer with a big sigh but oh no, when Millie was asked, and then told to go over another jump (I say ‘jump’ but really it was a pole 6 inches off the ground) she was pretty adamant the answer was ‘F*CK OFF AND DIE’ and as she couldn’t actually say those words her way of communicating them in no uncertain terms was to launch her self from all fours into the air (a sort of buck/rear/leapy type thing), bring her left hoof up by her ear and then with all her might stamp her foot on the ground with a squeal and proceed to full on toddler tantrum. We laughed. She sulked.
So as you can see Millie does NOT like being told what to do – unfortunately everything has to be played so that she thinks she has made the decision to do it….2 years later and we are all still waiting for her to decide to load, be caught, tie, stand still for mounting, to jump and to pick up all of her feet without trying to kick me in the head. We all wait with baited breath.
We unfortunately did not progress to SESSION TWO OF MILLIE’S JUMPING BOOTCAMP as I went out with my friends and attempted to ride the next day with a hangover and ended up in A&E (see previous post) It would appear Millie will do just about anything (including hospitalising me) to not go over a course of jumps.
*Re-thinks 2013 show jumping goals and writes FOR SALE advert (again)*