October 14, 2009

Success And Failure

Yes, you caught me, I am back! Momentarily refreshed by a beautiful trip to the Outer Banks. Got Solo moved to a new farm yesterday, which is heaven...but that's a story for another day.

Now where was I?

Oh yes, we crashed and burned. Solo had lost his confidence and I mine. We went home and undertook tarp training.

It wasn't hard -- a little grain bribery and patience soon had him standing in the center of the blue tarp without much fuss. Then we gradually added it to jumps in scarier and scarier setups and jumped over it.

Sweet, problem solved!

So we went back to the next show in the series.


It took us two tries to get over the first jump. The second jump was a huge white picket fence oxer. To which Solo responded by bugging out his eyeballs and running sideways out of the (unfenced) arena at warp speed at which point we were whistled off course for ungentlemanly behaviour (Solo doing his best to gallop sidepass and me hanging on begging him to turn).

Problem NOT solved. Obviously, Solo remembered the Scene of the Crime. And there was no way I was going to get him around that course that day.

I went and talked to the farm owner and asked if they would be leaving the course up that night and if I could return the next day to school these obviously Horse-Destroying Obstacles. She of Infinite Kindness said sure.

The next day, we returned, alone this time (with a friend for ground support) to face our demons.

Solo was nervous and refused the first jump. We got over it the second time with a little kicking, but it didn't feel good. We had the Blue Tarp of Doom set up too. Farm owner showed up, she was schooling her horse XC that day, to see how we were doing. She offered to give us a lead over the Doom Tarp and after a moment, I accepted. Lead given. Solo jumped it like a champ.

It was like a switch flipped. We continued around and all of a sudden, we were back in business. We jumped everything twice and called it a day.

I was happy, but cautious. I knew I needed to keep him set up for success. His newfound confidence was fragile and keeping goals small and achievable would be paramount for recovery.

It was time to go back home and start rebuilding the framework for our future jump by careful jump. We started at 2' courses. We worked on the exercises that the Woff had given me, insisting on a calm NORMAL canter on course before proceeding to the next jump, keeping in mind his instruction to BE FIRM and not accept doing it wrong.

I was thinking. Solo was responding. And things were beginning to change.


  1. I love reading about your and Solo's progress! You should have started his blog a loooong time ago.
    And I think you read my mind because I have been thinking that I need to get a tarp myself and start working Mr. Salem on it.

  2. Haha, thanks Frizz! Back then, I figured there were enough horse training blogs out there and I had no idea how much fun it was to maintain a blog. It really is a great creative outlet.

    Go tarp training, it's fun and easy. I set up a vertical with a tarp draped loosely over it last night just to give us a check up and with a confident ride, Solo hopped right over.

  3. Yay! It's awesome that the farm owner let you come back and school. Some horses just aren't fans of certain places. For Emma and I, it's the wash stall. She's convinced it eats horses for breakfast. Her eyes get HUGE if I go in there for a second, like she's afraid I've been gobbled up.

  4. Tarp training is great! I started doing that with Mosco this fall. He always cracks me up because the tarp completely terrifies him (he has had a phobia of plastic bags since birth despite many attempts at desensitization)and he has this compulsion to mouth it even though he knows it's going to crinkle and scare the crap out of him. Ahh the perils of being a totally oral horse who has to put everything in his mouth! It's also very rewarding to see him try so hard to deal with the tarp to please me, even though it really scares him :)
    Of course our completely bomb-proof Paint (I seriously think a bomb could go off & he'd just think Oh, that was interesting!) put up with having the tarp draped over him, walking on it & everything the first time he saw it.
    Glad you had a good trip!

  5. Ahahahah, carnivorous tarps and washracks are not objects to be trifled with!