A Tale of Three Jumpers
I decided to lunge everyone tonight. I also decided to have some fun, so I set up a little jump made from my blue plastic barrels with slope poles as wings so the line wouldn't catch when my Boys jumped.
Chance was first in and is the most inexperienced jumper. He really has improved immeasureably with his lunging and is almost even on both the right and left reins. He will still drift out on the right, but it's really not bad anymore. With a nice warmup at trot and canter, I set him at the jump on the left rein. Well, challenged as he was by the height--probably about 2'3" or so, more than he's jumped before--he somehow managed to lift himself over. Well, the pictures of his father show marvelous form with knees up to his chin. I don't think Chance inherited that attribute. Or, is just could be he had absolutely no idea what to do with his legs. It wasn't a pretty picture. But, it wasn't a disaster either, and as we went on an eventually moved on to the right rein, he improved considerably. The big issue, I think was, that he couldn't quite figure out how to really jump off his hind end, so the front had to do too much of the lifting and couldn't quite get out of the way. Still in all, he was willing, able, and certainly showed an ability to handle it. Were I interested, I have a feeling I could school him into a pretty able jumper and, I also think his form would really improve.
But I'm not. At least not any more. I used to ride hunter/jumpers and I even evented in my younger days. I've been over some pretty big fences in my day--5' plus--and I loved it. But there is a risk there I no longer care to take. Sometimes I miss those "wings" and all that "flying" but I'll enjoy Caroline's experiences instead.
Tucker was in next and of the three, he would probably be the best looking over fences. His first jump, his knees were way up and his heels practically hit his girth area. He really uses his front end well and definitely jumps off his hind end. The other nice thing is that he seems to be very quiet and pretty bold about tackling things in a calm manner. I'm not keen on horses that want to rush to a fence and he doesn't seem to do that at all. He'd be fun, but I'd worry about his soundness. He did have surgery to correct a club foot. so that would be a concern, although my vet said it would never be a problem. His foot size and shape are kind of like Russell R.'s too and eventually Russell developed navicular which I attribute to the many, many fences he jumped.
Toby is definitely the most athletic jumper of the team. He is neat with his front legs and really has a nice bascule. But, when he takes off, he looks as if he could "jump the moon." There is an ease and strength that makes it look so easy. I his not quite as elegant as Tucker but impresses with his sheer ability. He will get quick to a fence and if he makes a mistake can get a bit rambunctious. The only time I really jumped a course in the show ring with him, he placed 2nd, so I know he probably would have been a good prospect. He has nice sized feet and has proven to be really sound for all these years. However, he has a cowardly streak about new things and can be super quick and athletic about a runout or stop. He would have needed a lot of work--like Jazz--to settle him into accepting new things. His spooks are still unpredictable and dramatic.
It was really fun and interesting to watch all three doing the same exercises tonight. Once again, I was struck by how lucky I am to have three such nice horses. They are so easy to train and such a joy to work with. Frustrations come, of course, but I always seem to find an answer. It took a long time to get Tucker to be a "happy camper" but it was worth it. Now, I can just kind of "play" and enjoy the journey.