In a horse, that is. Tucker has proven time and time again that he is the ultimate ammie's horse, patient as they come. Willing to let me make the same mistake over and over... and over... and over... and never holds a grudge about it. All in a day's work, as far as he's concerned.
We had a jump school again on Saturday and this time I put all the jumps up a hole from where I had them last week, and then set one of the outside lines at 3', the height at which I'm supposed to be competing this horse. Ever noticed the rear-view-mirror effect when you haven't jumped a certain height in a while? Jumps that were once quite comfortable to you are now much larger than they once appeared....
First we worked on the single roll top, and had to jump it over and over because we were landing with a lead change issue. And by lead change issue I mean Tucker was overly anxious about being asked for a lead change, flung his head up into the air and braced against my hand when we landed from the jump. (Nothing compared to a few years ago when we would literally bolt away from the fence if we thought a lead change might be coming, but still not what I wanted.) We did a lot of canter circles before the jump and some straight halts at the fence line upon landing and gradually he improved.
I'm trying to decide whether I should even practice lead changes at home. Seems to fry the Tucker brain a little too much for my liking, but I'm not sure that never doing them, and then asking for them at shows, will make it any better. Still giving it some thought.
Then we moved on to the outside lines. Outside line #1 was only a hole bigger than it was the weekend before, and it didn't worry me. The first time through he loped down the line in four soft, relaxed strides and I had a loop in my rein. The next time through, after seeing it once, the four was tight. The third time through, I balanced and waited sooner, and it was just right. Very good. (I can be taught!)
Here's where things went awry. I then moved on to the other outside line, which at the time had suddenly grown to Grand Prix height (I should have taken a picture, you'd laugh. It was just a 3' vertical to a 3' oxer, and Tucker practically could have walked over it). Let's just say it was not pretty. There were many, many circles. There were a lot of really ugly distances where he had to extricate himself from the base of the fence before taking off. I also asked him to leave from Cincinatti once and ended up galloping halfway across the ring until I could get him to stop. Oops.
Each time, however, Tucker was solid as a rock the next time around. Never got annoyed, never got tense, never got flustered. Just tried his best to figure out what exactly it was that Crazy was asking him to do this time. And finally, when I managed to pull it together and jump the line a few times like a human being with some riding experience (rather than a chimpanzee being introduced to the sport for the first time), Tucker was happy to canter through and jump it like none of the aforementioned ugliness had even happened.
This horse has patience for days, I tell you. He never gets frustrated with me, even when I am completely frustrated with myself. I was trying to explain to someone yesterday that I don't see my horse as a human being, or treat our relationship like I would one with a person. It's better. There is no way a person would put up with all the nonsense I dish out to him, and still come back for more. I'm so lucky.