I previously posted about my new horse when I was evaluating him and everything seemed to check out at the time. While it was apparent he sometimes needed extra reinforcement with steering, there were no red flags jumping poles or out on XC. Here’s a compilation video of my trial rides: https://youtu.be/COSIYfMaIxo
We started jump lessons at my barn a couple months after I bought him. We had a couple lessons where he ducked out a few times (especially if blocks were used–apparently he considers those to be mini fire breathing dragons.) I chalked it up to just needing some acclimation and we managed to work through it and were successfully jumping at the end.
However, in the past few lessons, he seems to have gotten progressively more hesitant to go over obstacles even to the point of balking at a few poles on the ground. If anything changes visually like a x-rail changing to a vertical, he will stop even if it’s something he could easily walk over.
When that happens, our trainer has been breaking things down and building back up and having me repeat until he’s “bored.” He does seem to get better on repetition but this weekend there were a few times where he would all of a sudden get spooked again. We spent an entire lesson literally getting him comfortable walking and trotting over a pile of poles.
I can’t figure out why he seemed perfectly fine when I first tried him and now acts like he’s never seen a jump in his life. The only difference I can think of is that during the trial we were jumping outside whereas we’ve been having our lessons indoors. But the lighting is usually pretty bright for our jump lessons.
I’m going to have his eyes checked by the vet just to rule that out though my trainer thinks it’s likely more of a confidence issue. He also has a tendency to run at and after jumps, which apparently a previous owner trained him to do so we’re working on that as well.
We don’t have issues doing flatwork. He’s moving evenly and when he does finally go over the jumps he’s using his body well so I don’t think it’s anything like a vitamin deficiency.
I’m planning to try doing some trust building activities on the ground with him. My trainer also put him on a cavesson last week to get him over a x-rail (video of me attempting to get him over same x-rail before I got off: https://youtu.be/DG7vKp6o6Q4), so we may do more of that type of groundwork as well. But it seems like even if he finally gets comfortable after repetition in one session, he will balk again on a different day.
I’ve asked one of the more experienced students in our group to ride him in this week’s jump class to see how he might go with someone who has more finely tuned aids than me.
We haven’t been able to ride outdoors since this started happening so I haven’t been able to test that theory. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of environment or even if it did end up being a vision issue at least we’d have something specific to focus on resolving. In the meantime, his lack of confidence is starting to fuel my lack of confidence which he can probably sense and I’m afraid of him starting to make a habit of stopping or running out.