Canter pole placement can vary slightly from horse to horse and from exercise to exercise. Over the weekend, I jumped Eli through an in-and-out with a canter pole in front. We played with the distance slightly, but for the most part it was about 10′ out from the first jump of the in-and-out. We got to it pretty well a few times, and Eli jumped out of a nice cozy distance and jumped well out over the oxer. Foolishly I tried to pull him up hard because he got a little frolicky, but he won that fight.
I guess after that time through, Eli decided he preferred the gap and I utterly failed to place him well, but he jumped out comfortably enough and I just, yet again, tried to keep up.
So, I can’t ride canter poles. And Eli abuses his athleticism and jumps from where he likes to jump.
Eli and I do not agree on canter poles. But I also realized fighting over it with him could net us a worse distance. So I got left behind. I sat down on him in the air. I did all kinds of wrong things and held my breath and hoped we’d make it out of the combination alive and we did.
Is riding just one long stupid adventure in those kind of lame trust exercises that corporate retreats offer?
Rider: Like, here, Eli, let’s work on getting to the base. I have even placed a canter pole to help us.
Horse: Nah, I’m good.
Grids offer so much in the way of learning experiences. They teach patience. They teach a horse how to moderate momentum, how to power off the hind end, how to adjust to distances. They teach a rider how to wait, how to keep the body back and shoulders up, how to follow a horse’s jumps instead of trying to jump for the horse. We’re going to keep working through grids, different ones, a few times a month. Sometimes they work out well, and sometimes they teach me I can’t have a perfect ride all the time but I can still get across the fences on Eli. Rides like this offer both reassurance and frustration. Rides like this also cement the partnership Eli and I have. His tolerance of my mistakes makes me want to keep trying to get better.