We made it to the farm we were schooling at (an absolutely gorgeous facility with jumps ranging from 6 inch logs on the ground to banks that could hide a horse... not a word of a lie) 5 minutes early! Quite a feat for the person that has a reputation for being a little late, a little disorganized, and a little too calm about it all. I used the extra time to walk Cadence around, show her some of the fences, and then hop on her and hack her around a little to let her chill out. She was tenser than I'd ever seen her before, but it didn't help that she was in heat, AND we'd been chased by a dog while hacking around the top end of one of the fields. Not the best way to start the day.
As we warmed up, things didn't really improve. She was tenser and jumpier than I'd ever seen her before, and was prancing/skitting around & a few times she felt dangerously close to going up in the air. We managed to warm up relatively incident free, but she was still way nuttier than she's ever been before. It turns out that this was just the start of things. We followed the boys (Cadence's half brother via her sire who's the same age as her and is beyond awesome, and Cadence's half brother's half brother [they're out of the same dam] whom Cadence is in love with) over a little log, and while Cadence was good... she was a little on the nutty/forward side of things. My coahc and I had decided to take things slow with her, and her behaviour in our warm up only enforced this decision, so while everyone went off to jump a wee tiny combination of 2 logs set on a bit of a curve, we waited so that we could jump them both individually first.
Once everyone was done, we headed over and attempted to start by trotting a circle in front of the fence. Every time we got to the one portion of the circle, Cadence would get stuck, start backing up, refuse to move, try to spin around, ripping the reins out of my hand, pawing, or any other number of nasty dirty little tricks. I'd push her through it, and we'd get going again. Circle, push, stop, push, circle, repeat. The cycle went on. After a few minutes, my coach figured out that the issue wasn't just Cadence being an ass, and was in fact her attempting to go stand with her buddies. Sure enough, when my coach relegated them to a different area, we had issues with a different part of our circle. Keep in mind that all I was asking was that she trot a circle here. Nothing spectacular, nothing extraordinary, nothing hard at all.
Anywho, I kept working away, convinced that Cadence would not "win the war" as my coach put it, and that instead she really would complete the very simple exercise laid out for her. As her plans kept getting thwarted, and I kept on pushing her behaviour got worse and worse. She started leaping into the air, and bounding forward. I'd have to 'grab' the bit back from her, and work to settle her again... at which point she'd refuse to move. At one point, when we were circling rather successfully at the trot, she grabbed the bit, leaped twice through the air, and leaped over the side of the jump. That was the closest I came to being unseated- I lost both stirrups, had my reins ripped out of my hands, and barely managed to keep my butt in the tack. We spent probably 45 minutes working in front of the jump, and moved on, largely for the sake of everyone else who had just been standing & waiting while my horse goofed off.
While the other three jumped some fences back down near our warm up fence, Cadence and I practiced trotting toward and away from the group. She had a few 'moments' but nothing terrible. We even went and jumped our original log a few times with enthusiastic, but overall pretty good results. Then, everyone came back and stood by us while we attempted to jump the log one final time. The affect of the other horses was immediate, and we regressed within a matter of seconds. The moment I'd turn Cadence onto the line of the jump she would literally go up in the air and leap towards the fence. To call this behaviour dangerous would be an understatement. So once again, we spent 45 minutes attempting to walk or trot a circle in front of the fence with similar but more dramatic results. When she finally settled, in stead of jumping the jump we moved on. After a short walk into another field, we quietly walked down into their water hazard and back out again without so much as a glance at it. Then, while everyone else jumped a little log and bank combo we waited. Then they did some ditch work, and we waited some more. Finally, after some more 'leaving and returning to the group' exercises, Cadence and I hopped over a little fence in between two trees without a fuss. Then we headed into another field and jumped a little log on the ground and a thin slanted rail type fence on a circle. We even cantered them! Yay for calm well behaved mares. Then we hopped down a bank a few times without an issue. To finish we returned to the first jumps and jumped the warm up log a few times (she didn't even try to canter before hand) before heading to the bending 2 stride combination where all our troubles began. Luckily, the mare calmly jumped through the line twice (oncebending right, and once bending left) before we called it a day.
To be continued...