Oh Henny. Bless your poor sweet little dum-dum heart.
After our stadium lesson on Saturday, Trainer wanted to take the opportunity to lunge Henry down a bank and over a jump on a bank. This is because of our fairly tragic XC school the Wednesday before, where Henry seriously just COULD NOT figure out the big down bank with the log on top. His mind was completely blown, and he kept tapping his way down the bank with his front feet, then pushing off and leaping straight out. It was not good. He’s jumped a ton of down banks in his life, but there’s something about the log being on top of the drop that seems to be completely throwing his brain for a loop. At that point it was decided that we should come back another day with a lunge line and let him go down every big log-topped bank we could find, over and over, until he figured it out on his own.
Of course, there was rain in the forecast and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it back to our XC schooling venue before the show this weekend, so we took advantage of the nice weather after our lesson to school him down the little bank at her place. We pulled a jump out of the arena so that we could build up the question for him (jump on top of the bank) from just the bank by itself, to bank with poles in front, to crossrail, to vertical.
I didn’t get video of the first attempts, because I was too busy going back and forth to the jump to add or take elements away while Trainer lunged him. First we started with just the banks alone, which still.. he was trying to tap and slide his way down this tiny bank. Finally he dropped down it normally, so we added a crossrail in front. That totally blew his mind and he crashed his way down several times in a row.
I don’t know what the mental block was for him, but it took quite a few tries before he realized to jump across, and then down. Over and over he went until he finally got it, then we built it up a little more.
Poor Henry, the little hamsters in his brain were running as fast as they could.
But once he understood the question, and how to just… jump down the damn thing… he was totally fine. He jumped it several times with the larger vertical and then I hopped on and trotted him down it once with a crossrail in front, with many pets and much celebration.
So, we were right. He totally DID NOT understand the question at all, and essentially climbing over/sliding down was for some reason what he thought the right answer was. This little mini-lesson seemed to finally make it click for him a bit.
Granted, that’s one teeny tiny bank with a little stadium jump over top of it. Much different from this thing:
We both agreed that he definitely still needs to go out there and jump down the bigger banks with the logs on top, so we’re going to try to do that on Friday.
This horse has always been such a savant when it comes to XC, it honestly never occurred to me that he would have a big mental block about this. Poor guy. Hopefully we’re on the right track now, though!