Grid work progress – Learning from mistakes

Today was one of those brilliant days where you feel that your horse has learnt a big lesson and things are really starting to makes sense for them.

Dustry and I have been hacking out more recently now that the weather and ground is better and it’s really beneficial for him. We’ve been cantering in 2 point position in wide open spaces (this doesn’t seem to excite him) and we’ve been walking calming out with company (this is most exciting! go figure?!)

With the exception of a few ‘squeaky moments’ from him and his weird kung fu kicking of a bumble bee (walking along calmly and a bee bumbled towards him so he karate chopped it with one front leg, then carried on as if nothing had happened…) he has been very well behaved.

Today we went for a lesson and really worked very hard on improving the canter, and more to the point improving my way of riding in/and when preparing for canter. It’s exhausting!

To finish we did some grid work.

The grid was set up in stages, like so…

1/ cross pole – bounce – ground pole – stride – ground pole
2/ cross pole – bounce – cross pole – stride – ground pole
3/ cross pole – bounce – cross pole – stride – cross pole
4/ cross pole – bounce – cross pole – stride – cross pole spread
5/ cross pole – bounce – cross pole – stride – cross pole front, parallel back rail
6/ cross pole – bounce – bigger cross pole – stride – parallel spread

It’s crucial that I get him soft, round and working over his back into his fences as his natural inclination is to hollow. He went through the grid from stages 1 to 5 really well, and his technique is a million times better than his horrendous early attempts, I must remember to just sit quiet, give the rein, and not override. When I do that it all comes together beautifully. He seems to be clever with his feet, and having never done a bounce before he sussed it instantly.



We came in to the grid set up at stage 6, and I knew he would look at the fence as now the final part was fairly meaty. He came in and he saw that it was bigger and although I rode it exactly the same as before (this is where his old instincts rear their ugly head) he rocketed sky high over it. We must have cleared the top of the stands! It was a horrid jump, it jarred him on landing and must have felt awful for him, but in a way….I was glad that he did it.

We came round again to the same set up and he stopped in the bounce. He had upset himself with the crazy ‘goat leap’ and his confidence in his own ability was rock bottom (sensitive little soul). Amanda put the front pole as a dropper, and we came through again, he did another huge leap, not quite as bad as before but not the quality calm jumping he had been doing through stages 1 to 5 of the grid work.

To repair his mistake I just kept calmly coming round and by the 3rd run through he had worked things out, his technique was repaired, and confidence restored. We finished over the final parallel in great style and it was his best jump so far! (typically the camera ran out of memory just before this, gah!!!) He feels great to jump when he gets it right, full of power and scope and with a lovely moment of ‘hang time’ in the air.

(we finished over a parallel, and he jumped much straighter and round but typically the camera memory ran out!)

I was really pleased at his attitude when he made a mistake, he got over it really quickly and he jumped better as a result. It’s just going to take lots of careful jump training to teach him that he doesn’t need to throw in a ‘goat leap’ when things get bigger/different he has the skills now to jump things properly and through correct and careful training I can reinforce that for him, and fingers crossed produce a talented, capable jumper!

I feel like a penny really dropped for him today technique wise and that making a mistake and being able to correct it was really valuable.

onwards and upwards (in a non goat leap style!)

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