Monday, July 14, 2014


Jazz is not so much a horse as a deceptively simple puzzle.  What I'm trying to say, is that I have recently come to believe that somewhere in her unregistered grade horse ancestry, there was a Rubik's cube in there.  It seems easy, and there's certainly lots of people out there that could have her lined up and working beautifully with a few twists, spins, and algorithms that look so simple when they do it. I know I've not hesitated to ask a few experienced horse people to help sort her and me (mostly me) out in the past, with great results.

Pictured above: Jazz when someone who knows what they're doing has a look at her.

 Also, continuing my rubik's cube analogy, nearly any idiot can solve one side of a Rubik's cube.  You can make it look real nice from one angle, but try to do anything but that one thing you do well, or try to make multiple sides match up, and it gets not so nice and pretty pretty fast.  Again, much like Jazz.  Nearly anything and everything an amateur like me can ask Jazz to do on a loose rein, she can do like gangbusters, but try to do those same things with a little contact, and suddenly all the wheels fall off and she won't listen to anything and none of those buttons you installed on a loose rein work properly anymore.

Pictured above: Jazz on the average day before I ask her to do something she considers work.
A brief break from the hypotheticals here to do a little catch up on recent events.  July 1st I got on a horse that could accurately be described with phrases like "wound up" or "not quite listening" or "completely crazytown bananapants get off her now before someone dies or gets flattened".  Looking at all the factors, I decided that there were WAY too many factors to have even a clue where to start finding solutions.  On a hunch, I took a little bit of a risk and decided to subtract as much of the complication as possible.  So, naturally, two days after jumping off of my horse trying not to A) tremble B) fear for my life and C) take it out on the horse instead of correcting properly, I decided to hop on bareback in just a rope halter with the lead line tied around for reins (I never claimed to be bright).

My suspicions were confirmed when I got on a totally chill horse who, granted, has gotten a bit dull on leg aids (so many things to do), but was very reasonable.  I did a very gradual warmup, with minimal leg and both hands on the reins, but also sitting on her neck.  Totally chill.  I did some turning and circling and worked on the scary side of the arena a little (the side where the back yard of the farm house is.  Jazz hates the dogs and I've seen them really spook her a few times).  Totally chill.  I took a little contact on my rope reins.  Totally chill.  I did the exact bending exercise to the best of my ability that I had done in our recent off the rails lesson .  Chill, chill, chill.

The. Exact. Same. Exercise. 

So chill. 

Chill chill chill.  

I rode again mid-week when I had a couple hours off from work (aka the one time in the week I had a couple hours off from work).  I started much the same, bareback with the halter, nice slow introduction.  I decided to test her out adding the bridle after our halter warmup.  She was totally fine.  I did some contact and more of the bending exercise from the lesson with no major issue.

I was almost convinced she was 100% fine, and as long as I could sort myself out in terms of what I was asking, we'd be moving back along like gangbusters again. Almost.

I had the same intentions today, but because I'd brought it home to punch holes, forgot my bridle.  No problem.  I didn't have big goals today anyway, just another short bareback, and the halter would do for that.  So, I did my groundwork warmup.

Pictured above: Jazz after a groundwork warmup
I tied up my rope reins and hopped on.  I had some slightly unfortunate timing in that a pasture mate of Jazz's (her pasture is about five meters away from the arena at its closest point) was being let go, and she was whinnying at her, which worked her up a little, but nothing unmanageable.

I had some really unfortunate timing in that the barn cat had come in and was wandering around in the far side of the arena, or, as the cat must see it, her giant sandy litter box.  The cat itself wouldn't be a problem, but there are some truly horrid magpies at my farm.

No picture exists where magpies don't look like they're plotting to steal candy from babies, because magpies are evil, and they look evil 100% of the time.  
The cat must have been threatening the nest or something, because the freaking magpies would NOT shut up.  Jazz totally lost it and did a weird crow hop (oh the irony), wherein I was totally convinced I would be having a bareback bronc ride for the next however long it would take Jazz to buck me off (aka not long).  Luckily, she did not buck me off.  Unluckily, she took off.  The rocket horse that was threatening to rear its ugly head not so long ago took this opportunity to blast off.  I wound up trotting mach 8 along the rail with a horse completely blind to aids of any kind.  She headed directly for C, who was sitting on the mounting block in the corner of the arena.  I blurted out an eloquent "stop her, stop her, Stop Her, STOP HER!", as my breaks continued to fail and Jazz kept on heading for C.  Luckily, she did stop once she reached her, and I hopped off to lunge her a little and get her mind down from the level 10 AB-SOLUTELY THIS IS GONNA BE HOW I DIE threat level she was at down to something rational.  C went over to see what she could do about shutting up or chasing off the magpie.  I did eventually get her brain back (but only after the crazy magpie was gone), and she did some really lovely work with ground poles with me on the ground.  Sigh.  Maybe I should just make her a halter horse and be done with it.

Pictured above: Jazz today. 

Of course, I'm not being serious when I say that.  We'll have to find a way.  I haven't the faintest clue what that will be, but come what may, we will find a way.

At least I finally remembered to take a picture of her dapples.  

Her newest nickname is dapple bum. 


  1. I absolutely love your comparison of Jazz to a Rubik's cube. I feel the same way about my horse some times. My trainer gets on and Aragon is oh so fancy, and I get on and it takes a couple laps to find the canter button. I feel ya. Hang in there, and good luck :)

    1. Haha it's funny you should say fancy, because every time Jazz starts acting up I always joke and say "Oh, yes Jazz, I know! You're so fancy" I guess she just likes to remind me that she can do more than boring arena exercises from time to time ;)