I wish my horse could speak English. Even if it was just for five minutes so I could ask her 'what the heck do you want to do with your life?'. It would be so much easier than trying to interpret her responses to things.
It doesn't help that she's ridiculously complicated. After my jumping clinic that was a borderline disaster, I was ready to just put the jumping saddle in storage. What's the point in pushing it? She doesn't want to do it, it's not fun, why bother?
But I wasn't going to skip the Myopia hunter pace. No way. We've gone to that every year that I've had her. It's like a rite of fall, a last hurrah before hunkering down for winter. Besides, I could skip the jumps and Fi is always up for a gallop in the woods.
I trotted her over the first fence to see what she thought of it and she seemed a bit surprised. She wiggled, but popped over. It was the first actual jump for her in two months. The second jump she said 'no way'. A two foot stadium style fence that she could jump with her eyes closed and instead she dove out hard to the left. I took that as an indicator that this was not to be and just skipped the next couple fences. At least my non-jumping horse was still good for long gallops in the country side.
Then we took a wrong turn (one of several) and ended up on a part of the hunter pace where there wasn't a gap. The log jump stretched all the way across. It wasn't even two foot tall, so I trotted the princess up to it. Easier to try to jump it than go around. Cutting out wasn't an option, so I didn't guard against it. Just pointed and waited. Lo and behold, she jumped without a wiggle.
And then she jumped the next one. And the next. Then she grabbed that damn bit, the ears came up, and some switch in her head flipped. I knew that feeling, when the entire front end lifted and she started snorting like a run away freight train.
The princess was back.
Myopia Hunter pace 11-4-12
Jump from the canter? No problem. Skinny jump? No problem. Beginner novice coop? No problem. Brakes? Eh, a bit of a problem, but that's just business as usual. I presented her to the fences, gave her a check, then just let her go. She jumped with her knees to her eyeballs, cracking her back and looking for the next one. All of a sudden, this was fun for her again.
I kept her to Beginner Novice fences, skipping the Novice sized ones. I didn't want to over face her, even if she was begging for the chance. Better to have a really fun experience and get her confidence back.
I don't know yet if this will translate to stadium, as the only one she refused was a stadium style fence, but she's clearly not ready to retire from cross country. It took a hundred yards to pull her up at the end of the hunter pace. She was so darn proud of herself, jigging and prancing while I tried to turn in my number.
It would be so much simpler to retire her, but no. That was the outing we both needed to keep plugging away at this and keep trying to figure out what she needs. Because clearly, judging by my aching shoulders and the pictures of her lit up like a Christmas tree, she wants to be an eventer.