Izzy and I had another jumping day. I got Irie's mom to help me set a barrel jump, and off we went.
Izzy warmed up really well. We had to do a little work with halting and backing to remind her that going forward did not mean hollow and run, but then she softened and listened nicely. She's getting more comfortable in the new arena, so she's not nearly as forward as she was yesterday. However, we did get some nice work on galloping and coming back in and she seems to do it pretty well. With her big stride and her speed, gallop is amazing to ride.
Then we jumped. She warmed up really well over the crossrail and then we headed for the barrels. (I had let her look at them earlier.) She came in, cantered a stride or two out, then launched herself over the jump. I managed to grab mane and stay on. As she cantered away, I petted her and told her what a good girl she was. We did the same thing again, with her launching and me grabbing mane, and then...
Nothing. We'd come in and stop. I'd make her stand in front of the jump, and then try again. Still nothing. I remembered what Cathy said about not making it scary and not making a fuss, so I didn't get after her. Irie's mom was there, but she's not a real experienced jumper, so while she pointed out that IZzy was backing off way in front of the fence, she didn't know how to fix it. Hm... Izzy is normally pretty bold and she had already jumped it twice. She wasn't off, she wasn't in pain, and she wasn't really in a mood, so I knew the problem had to be me, but I didn't know how to fix it. I also didn't want to quit without jumping it again.
Irie's mom was riding a jumping schoolmaster, so she gave us a lead over it. Izzy went forward pretty boldly, but then tried to rush the fence. She ignored my body half halt so I went to my hands... and got in her face... and she stopped... Oh. I had Irie's mom give us another lead, determined not to get in Izzy's face this time. Unfortunately, Mr. Schoolmaster decided to piddle over the jumps, so I had to pull Izzy out (well in advance) to avoid running over the top of him.
We circled around at the canter. I haven't cantered many jumps with Izzy because that means the jumps come up faster and I don't want to scare her. (Also, if she threw in a sliding stop, the canter would be harder to ride. Irrational, but true.) This time, I determined to let her do what she wanted and I would just sit still. We cantered in. Then she trotted. Then she cantered. I put my leg on and stayed in halt seat, determined to be out of her face.
She took one massive leap and we were over and galloping away.
That was easy.
Lesson learned: when the mare wants to canter, let her canter, you nitwit. They're her legs. She'll take care of them.
As I was driving away, I realized that a Pippa Funnell book I read about training young horses discussed this phenomenon. She mentioned what a challenge it is to jump younger horses because they don't have the strength for a slow collected canter, so they have to go more forward than you're comfortable with.
And at the core of this problem appears to be my confidence issues. If I trusted Izzy more, I probably could have avoided five refusals this morning. Live and learn.