Monday, January 15, 2024

Goggles' Trip to the Dark Side

With the help of my husband, Goggles and I conquered the cross rail jumpers at the local hunter jumper schooling show this Friday and Saturday.

Friday we went and did the warm up. I had fairly low expectations and goals, exist in the ring, exist near other horses, and exist without running over people. We arrived a little bit before noon because that was when the weather looked best. We wandered around until we found the office and left Goggles on the trailer in the meantime. He seemed to actually have chilled out a little bit while standing on the trailer and unloaded politely. He let me tack him up as well without excessive dancing. 

Our timing in the jumper ring worked out quite well, and my husband didn't have to fight off any trainers to try to drop jumps. We were trotting around when a trainer came in.  The jumps were about novice height still, and she timidly asked if I minded if she dropped a couple. I laughed and told her she was welcome to drop all of them because we certainly were not jumping what was set currently. Then her two pony kids came into the ring, and Goggles politely continued to do some walk trot while they walked and trotted as well. He eyed a standard with leaping dolphins on the sides of it a few times as we trotted by. I warmed him up over some of the cross rails and tiny 2 ft jumps. Then we walked again, and I let him sniff the dolphins closely before pointing him at the tiny oxer set between them. He popped right over without any hesitation. He also was not doing the bunny hopping he has tried out recently as a jump technique. I was trying my hardest to give him a nice release and stay off his back for the whole of whatever jump he took. He was even allowed to canter a few jumps after landing in canter. He was polite enough and together enough to canter one more jump before having to trot again. I was on him for maybe 30 minutes total and then got off,  untacked and put him back on the trailer to head home. He loaded super on the way home and didn't need any encouragement at all.

Saturday morning posed a bit of a problem for me. The schedule that had been posted online when I registered for the show had classes starting at 8:00 a.m., but when I checked the schedule Friday evening it had the jumper ring starting at 9:30. I had to be to work by 11:00, so in spite of how close the show was, this really wasn't going to work. I called the number and chatted with a lady who was super sweet and told me to show up to the ring at 9:00 a.m. and see if they would let me go. We arrived around 8:00 a.m., and he stood tied while a horse lunged nearby with no fuss over it. 

Then we got on and moseyed up to the covered arena since I had forgotten to introduce him to it on Friday. They had kicked everybody out to drag, but we could stand underneath the very edge of it and look around at the bleachers, which is what we did. His new barn owner and her daughter had come to cheer us on. She suggested perhaps we could go into the novice arena which is an outdoor grass arena where they hold the low level hunters. There was somebody in the judges box, and I asked and they said as long as I didn't jump things I was fine to go in. He very politely walked and trotted around. Although he was a bit spooky at somebody in a different judges box who was shuffling papers around. There were also some cows in the distance that caught his attention. Overall though, he felt amazing, and we cantered both directions. To the right he really wanted to buck, so we cantered a bit more in that direction kicking him forward to stop the porpoising that was happening.

Then we headed back over to the jumper arena where somebody was flipping over the numbers set at the base of the jump, revealing the mysterious course. He also pointed out where the course maps were and said he just hadn't had a chance to hang them yet. I studied them for a little bit. There were three courses, two labeled with jump numbers and then the unlabeled "classic" course. From my (very) limited experience with jumper courses, they were pretty straight forward, mostly doing an inside, outside, inside line thing. Around 8:55 I asked them if I would be able to go in a little bit early and they said they absolutely were not ready. I resigned myself to just having a productive morning seeing the sights at the horse show, but around 9:05 they announced that there was a person who needed to go early who was going to go at 9:15 so people could walk until then and then clear the course. That's me. I'm that person! 

So at 9:15 we headed in and did the first two courses. He was super for both of them, gaining confidence as he went. Similarly, I was gaining faith in his ability to listen and let me move him around at the canter, so we did a bit more cantering. I had to come out and stare at the map for a bit before heading back in for the third course. He started to get a little rude after landing from the jumps during this course. Eventually I remembered JT's advice to half-halt once and mean it rather than continuing to mildly pull. Once I did that, he remembered his manners and stopped porpoising quite as much. 

The crossrail courses, and I think up until 2' or 2'3" were all optimum time, crossrails was set at 350 meters per minute. I obviously was not going for a specific time, but it turns out his mix of trotting and cantering put us right around the optimum time marks. We ended up with a first, second, and fourth. Not too bad for baby's second show! 

All three courses put together there. 

More important was how freaking GOOD he was. He remembered the dolphin standards on Saturday and didn't even register that they existed. He exceeded all my expectations and behaved like a whole grown up horse. Also his neck felt AMAZING after his acupuncture. 

Based on schooling the 2' jumps on Friday, he could have gone in and done that height just as easily as the cross rails. My friend who does these shows regularly graciously helped answer all my questions about the process and did ask if I was sure I wanted to enter the crossrails instead of ground poles with as exuberant as he had been at Majestic. I told her I couldn't guarantee he wouldn't be just as wild, but I was pretty sure that ground poles to 2' would all get about the same reaction from him, and I think that was spot on. He's also LARGE, so the 2' jumps really don't register much when I see them from his back. 

I am so excited for the spring with this kid. He's just the best dude and improves SO MUCH every time he's out. He was a million times more grown up than when JT rode him at Majestic for his first outing. Even Friday to Saturday was a huge difference in his ability to focus on what he was doing, not on what was going on around him. It was almost like Saturday had so many different things happening that he realized he couldn't possibly monitor it all. He got loads of carrots and praise and then was returned to his field to hang with his fave mini mare. 


  1. Eeeee he looks so good!! So exciting, you must have been thrilled with how it all went!! Also nice that they were able to get you into the ring early too

    1. I was absolutely delighted. I really couldn't have asked for him to be better in any way!!! And yes, I very much appreciated them helping me make it work!

  2. That's awesome, glad you had such a good outing with him!!