Monday, January 16, 2017

Winter Claustrophobia

Tis the season of shitty, blurry indoor pics and being stuck inside for weeks on end.

Even now, despite the raging bipolar temps here in Ohio, we have been literally swamped with rain, preventing rides outside more often than not. This leaves us all to cram in the smallish indoor and hopefully get some sort of work done.

Despite having ANOTHER cold from hell (I've been sick since Jan 3), I have actually been working the beast. I am struggling a bit, since the cold seems to have settled in my chest, but overall its been productive and positive.

However, I am noticing that jumping B indoors is not going as smoothly as intended.

Last year we were still at the old farm and the indoor there, while shittier in the footing department, it was MASSIVE. I would say easily twice the size of the current indoor at the new farm and it might have had higher ceilings too. Here a the new farm, B has trouble jumping even a single fence because his massive body just can't make the turns comfortably afterwards. Even the indoor jumper shows we have been to had bigger rings, and he just seems to be struggling in ours.

I've come to this conclusion after 3 separate rides this past week. One was our jump lesson on Wednesday, the other was a  ride outside on Friday with a break in the rain and the other was an attempted sale video on Saturday indoors again.

So wednesday; it was not great. I am trying to not make excuses, but for one, I was quite sick and weak AF, and I should have just cancelled--but I rode anyways. Secondly, there were so.many.people. and horses at the barn. I've never seen it so busy and it was weirding ME out a bit. The group lesson was big, there was a wall of people watching, and the wind & rain was whipping outside....not the best conditions for a fractious TB.

He warmed up exceptionally well though and his flatwork was lovely. No canter explosions and he was truly on the bridle and forward. I had him in his snaffle hunt bridle with a standing martingale, which I have been using recently with him.

It wasn't until we all started jumping that problems arose. I don't know if it was just too much commotion going on (sensory overload) or I was riding like shit, but B was rather inconsistent. He was jumping, then spooking, then jumping cautiously, then spooking. I was having trouble staying with him and he was having trouble focusing. My trainer ended up getting on because after 40 minutes, I was tapped and collapsing into coughing fits.

Snorty TB
The kicker was that she was having the same issues with him and we settled on jumping the grid line quietly and ended his ride there. Quite disappointing, but I shrugged it off to the crazy weather and the amount of commotion going on everywhere. Still no excuse, but rather understandable IMO.

Trainer being patient

Friday was nicer outside and despite the ring being pretty water logged, I decided to ride out there. First I lunged him, since there was a bonfire burning and the farm next door was moving their sheep around and they were being loud AF. He was a little snorty, but actually settled quite nicely with a big powerful trot as our warm up.

He was a dream to ride, and we even popped over a few fences with no issues. I had opted to ride in his hackamore (even though I lunged him in the snaffle on the bridoon hanger) because he was really resisting the snaffle on Wednesday and I wanted it to be as positive as possible for him.. I was feeling better about things and had planned to get some video over a course the next day with my friend L in the stirrups since I was sick.

The weather was not cooperating though, and we were forced inside. Yet again it was windy and rainy and the ring was slightly crowded. Luckily, those in the ring gave us some room to TRY and jump him over something substantial so we could get some video for some prospective buyers. I also put him back into his hackamore, which he seems to like on Friday.

Get it B!

Again, he was lovely for warm up and even gave us some super solid flying changes. He was jumping well until I added the panel and moved the fence height to 2'9...then he started throwing in a random spook now and again. It was never predictable, as he would jump fine a few times then out of nowhere snort and sidestep the fence. So strange.

could be a hunter IMO

Eventually he settled a bit and we were able to get the fence raised to 3'6, but he was really struggling with the turn afterwards and I think his confidence was just in the toilet regarding the small ring and being asked to jump higher. I think he was actually slipping a little on the turn, and when that happens he gets fresh. This is a totally normal reaction for most horses, but it is not conducive for a positive training experience. I truly understand the feeling of insecurity, and I'm 99% positive that was the reason for his antics on Saturday.



Its hard to remember that he's such a big horse because I make him look small and he makes the jumps look small, but it makes sense when you think about how compressed the ring is in comparison to him. His canter stride covers the short side in like 3 strides, its crazy. I decided to not push him further and we ended on a several good leaps over 3'6 and cut our losses to try again next weekend over courses outside.


Truly, I am thinking he is just claustrophobic in the indoor and his confidence goes in the shitter when we ask him to jump over 3ft. He hasn't really been asked to jump much this winter and right now I don't think he is fit enough for jumper turns, especially after a large leap. Bummed out this seems to be a minor training bump, but I think it might just be the indoor. I consulted with several friends and they said thats actually pretty common and they know a few horses who simply will not jump in a small ring indoors. I guess thats reassuring, but its still frustrating as all hell!

Luckily, his flatwork is fantastic and we can still do sub 3ft inside when we have to, but I think I am going to only ask for major effort outdoors in order to keep his confidence intact.

Currently have a love hate relationship with the indoor! Hah.


  1. I feel you on the small indoor struggles...Although at least I don't jump! Hopefully it dries up outside so you can get some good video out there!

  2. Bailey is a very watered down version of B in a lot of ways and she's definitely claustrophobic in the indoor. Being in a quieter indoor (one that is insulated so she can't hear stuff outside like she could in the indoor at our old barn, which was just metal siding and no kick boards, with lots of noises going on outside she couldn't see) has helped somewhat, but she's 1000x more reactive indoors than out and definitely won't happily jump bigger jumps or take decent distances inside. If I do jump her, she tends to want to chip all the way down to the basement of the base and then awkwardly flop over fences, where outside this summer she was taking the long distance to 3'3 like a badass.

    This is much easier to deal with when you don't plan to sell the horse, so you just do dressage all winter. Hopefully B can start to overcome this!

    1. Seriously though, trying to sell a horse as a jumper and not being able to jump much is killing me

  3. It's tough being a giant barefoot horse in a small arena! I feel you on tiny arena struggles, I dealt with that for a couple years and it drove me nuts. I always had a lot of issues finding and keeping the right pace. Hopefully the outdoor is more useable for you soon! Also, damn y'all have some GIANT jump standards, they must be 7'??

    1. Yeah they are lol. I don't even understand why they're made that tall!! In one of the pics his belly is almost at the four foot mark (handy dandy marking on the standards are nice). Almost unnecessarily large haha.

  4. Yea my big guy can get backed off by the tiny indoor too... The struggles are real!

  5. I like the tiny indoor because we can't get up as much speed...


    also not jumping. or riding. or anything.


  6. Holy huge standards. Tiny indoors are not my jam. Hope the weather starts cooperating! Feel better.

  7. Wow, he really does make those jumps look tiny!

  8. When you don't feel well you should definitely be kinder to yourself in your mind and take it easy (not saying you shouldn't ride just that its okay to not ride as well)

  9. A lot of horses, especially bigger ones, I find are a bit claustrophobic in the indoor. Even Miles (who isn't that big) doesn't really like it.

    1. This is weirdly comforting to hear though haha

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