When Dressage Horses Fly…

Holiday moved up to Fourth Level this year and in preparation I decided to teach him to jump. Note that he is 12 years old and has spent his life being told to stay away from the white poles, not leap them. So when I pointed him at the same trot poles we have used to outline our dressage ring and asked him to go over them, he seemed quite hesitant. I urged him forward and told him this was the key to his dressage success. Confused? He was.

Holiday spies something horribly out of place in the middle of his dressage arena! | Photo Courtesy, Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore

Let me back-track and explain that the whole reason we started jumping is because Holiday is lazy. I don’t just mean that he is a cool-tempered horse. I mean that he actually groans when he gets walk breaks and on days that he feels that cantering above his pay grade, you would think we were on the 100th mile of an endurance race from the first minute of the ride. “Illness, poor diet, call the vet,” you say? All checked out and nothing wrong but a lack of motivation.

So I got the lazy little man out in a field – at the suggestion of many and my former eventing subconscious – and he is ready to do anything. In an attempt to add even more spice to his life, we started to jump. After confirming that he could go over trot poles without stepping on them (yes this happened) or leaping them like the Puissance, we moved on to real cross rails.

Cut to a while later and, thanks to the help of multiple staff members in the office with more recent jumping experience, Holiday was jumping 2 feet. My response? Sign him up for a combined test! A few weeks later, Holiday completed his very first Intro B test and ended up winning his class after an awkward jumping round ended with only 1 rail down (luckily, they don’t deduct for foolish jumping or almost-refusals).

We also entered a Fourth Level 1 test to keep him from thinking he didn’t have to canter in the ring and broke 60% after completing the test in the SMALL arena (there is a training tip no one has ever suggested to me – man was I riding my half halts and corners!).

All in all it was a great day. It has been a while since I was so nervous for a show, but Holiday doesn’t groan at the walk as much and despite spending only 2 days schooling dressage, my instructor saw Holiday and said he looked better in his dressage work than she had ever seen him. I guess we found our way “forward!”






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