This is an old photo btw
Can I eat my words please? Nervous Nelly was back with a vengeance yesterday at our lesson in Sa Fita. My instructor over there had asked me to wear spurs for yesterday's lesson and boy am I glad I decided to ignore him. He had never seen her like this and was completely blown away, and I had to keep reassuring him that she's just like that every now and then. Spooks all over the arena, gallops I could just barely get under control, freaking out at every sound or movement, rodeo bucks... it was Spooky Starbuck's Greatest Hits and then some.
But... (and you know me, there's always a but) it ended up being a very positive session for us.
After warming up, I wanted to keep doing some halt / walk / trot transitions in the "spooky spots" until she calmed down, but after a few minutes my instructor set up a jump and told me to take her over it. I was pretty dubious about the wisdom of this but figured I could deal with any contingencies and so we went for it. And to my surprise, she did fine - there were still the same spooks, stampedes and bucks that I was getting in trot and even walk, but they didn't make any difference in our ability to take the jumps. We went up and up to about 2 1/2 feet and then added some scary plywood panels painted with red and black spirals to make the obstacle look like a psychadelic, twilight zone wall. She dodged it the first time, which both me and my instructor were expecting, but then I took her back around at a trot and after a little zig-zagging hesitation she jumped it.
So I learned two really important things yesterday which I think will really serve us both in the future, especially in stressful situations like a show or a particularly gnarly moment during a trail ride. 1.- Even though she's spooky and freaking out and barely under control, she still IS in fact under control, and 2.- Giving her a job to do, even a high adrenaline job like jumping doesn't make it worse, it makes it better.