Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baby Daddy

Seeing as it's the time of year when all the stallion ads are out I have been perusing for a stallion for Kate who I will breed this year if she doesn't stay sound or the following year if all is well. And I chose one! So here is a nice picture for you to enjoy.

ETA his name is Clearway by Capitol I out of a Lord mare

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goals for the 2011/2012 season

Bills dam Bob with me in the 1.15m class about 9 years ago. Yikes!

I totally spent ages last night writing this post only for it to disappear in the great blue nowhere. That got me sulking and i just went to bed, but I'm not letting myself feed my horses and go to bed until this post is done. I actually hate writing these posts. not because I'm not good at setting goals, every time I ride I have a goal in mind and I finish when I attain it. Or if I have what I want instantly I move the goal posts and aim for something else, but yea goals aren't my problem. Telling other people what they are is my problem. What if they laugh at me? What if I fail? What if they think I'm crazy? It's a bit hard to set really long term goals yet because I'm not sure what comes next to be honest. This December I want to assess where I am and decide whether I sell up and go overseas at the end of the season, or go overseas for the winter and come back to my horses for next season. It's not fair for my very generous parents to keep footing part of my showjumping bill if I'm not going to justify it with a reasonable level of performance.

So then to the goals. I'm not sure quite how to format this really.

First Show- Complete every round I enter on Kate, Connie and Rascal. Assess where each horse is at to make decisions about class options- moving up or down for the next show- and what I need to work on.

Second Show- Complete every round in less than 12 faults. Cope with jumping an indoor ring 1.

Myself- Improve position- keep shoulders open and keep left hand soft when it's my inside hand. I'm unbalancing my horses with it's desire to grab. They all go less well to the left.
- Improve confidence. Trust my own ability to ride and my instincts
- Improve eye and accuracy
- Develop plan for the future

Kate- Keep her sound! Stay in tune to how her knee is feeling and when it needs to be done again
- Improve stillness and smoothness and let her canter more down the related distances so she makes the fence out.
- Get confident jumping 1.20m tracks- look at moving up when possible.

Connie- Get her show fit.
- Jump well in the amateurs and look at moving up to pro-am classes.
- Jump 1.30 track before the end of the season.

Rascal- Sell her! (Hard when no one has called. I suspect she will be here for a while longer but it's not a bad thin really. It's hard time wise but she is going really well so it just means more positive saddle time for me.
- Get her jumping confidently in the 90cm and 1m classes. Look at 1.10m classes before season end.
- Try qualify for Amateur Showhunter of the Year (This one depends on if I have enough time, the showjumpers come first for me.)

Bill- Get her out to some shows!
- finish season doing 1.10m classes.

I don't think there is anything there that isn't attainable providing everything sort of goes to plan and I'm not plagued by lameness and disaster. Connie Kate and Rascal are all feeling really amazing and giving me great rides both on the flat and over fences. It seems to good to be true almost and in a way I find it worrying because it never goes like this with horses! Until my first show is over and done I wont really know where I am at with the horses. It's all very well them going well at home, but can we all hold it together in the ring remains to be seen.

I feel like them going well maybe adds another layer of pressure, like there are no excuses for less than perfect rounds? This is not good thinking at all so I need t cut that out. I'm a capable rider with lots of lovely horses and I just need to go out and get it done. I'm not really sure whether to start Kate in the 1.10m or not, but I have done like 20 1.10ms on her now, we are more than capable, I need to just suck it up. 2 weeks now. I hope to get to Teilcey once more early next week and then there is a practice day next weekend and then the next weekend it's go time again. Already nervous!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Season looms

Unfortunately I have been away at a wedding in the South Island for a while. suffice to say I will never agree to be on the bridal party again, unless it's my sister. While it was nice to get away and the South Island was beautiful the event was so farcical and poorly managed it put me off for life. I guess a thank you would have been nice for leaving my horses while 2 and a half weeks out from the first show and during calving on the farm but there you go.

Regardless, like I say the season is bearing down on us at a rapid rate of knots. I don't feel ready at all. I'm especially torn about what classes I put the Kate in. I feel a bit chicken on her but you know, she can jump well so I shouldn't really worry. I rode her yesterday for the first time since her knee was done. I couldn't really gauge how sound she was because without work she isn't very lame anyway and the ground wasn't great. She felt very strong and keen and absolutely full of beans. A little bit lighter in condition than I would like but I have time to fix that.

So Connie, Rascal and Kate will do Pukahu in a few weeks and Fielding a fortnight later. Bill will start mid October because I don't have the time right now to get her show ready. Can you believe it's come around this quickly!! I want to run around flailing my arms going "I'm not ready I'm not ready I'm not ready" especially seeing as 90cm looks so freaking massive at the moment. 1.10m almost looks unjumpable again! Possibly worse to because last season I had like now expectations and now I have them. I still have time for everything to fall into place and a couple of jumping sessions and I'll remember what I'm doing I'm sure.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kate goes to the Vet Again

Well despite the snow- which has turned into an ugly hideous cold wind associated sleet which is horrible- Kate got bundled up to go back to the vet to get her knee sorted out. For the record the lowest temperatures we had without wind chill was about- 1-2 degrees Celsius. I know thats cold for a lot of the world but thats about the coldest it ever gets here (Normally in a short term frost situation) and we were suffering. The snow is mostly gone now, just the stupid freezing sleet.

It was 3 degrees when I loaded Kate up to go to Bulls with a very bitter wind so it was pretty unpleasant. With Truckie being at the garage I had borrowed a float (two horse straight load trailer for the Americans) and I'm not sure she had ever been in one before so she was pretty hesitant about loading, but once she was on she traveled really well. When we got to the clinic it was 8 degrees and the sun was out. I was like 30 minutes early so Kate and I definitely enjoyed catching some rays.

She was fine on the trot-ups but showed mild lameness on the small circle. I'm not surprised it wasn't that bad because she has been getting next to no work in the last week with the weather. You always kind of worry you are being the over-doing it Mum and I think the vet maybe think she isn't stopping because of the knee. However, I know Kate and she is pretty genuine and I am actually a pretty good rider so I know that everything was ok like canter quality and take-off spot wise, so I can only think of pain as being way she is stopping. The knee has been injected with a type of cortisone which has a 6 week action and we will see if that works. He also gave me some bute so when I do a couple of jumping sessions on her, I can see how brave she is, knowing that pain is not a factor. She has such lovely manners. I just held some neck skin while he did the injection and she hardly flinched and then it was back home to the sleet.

I'll keep her boxed for 2 days and then she can go out and will start riding her again when I get back from this wedding I'm a bridesmaid at. Blurk. I'm so not the bridesmaid type. Hopefully it will work and I'll have old bold Kate back.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ok so I was wrong

Ok so I may have been wrong about the storm. That person is me, surrounded by snow. Did you recognise me off of a horse? I bet you wouldn't know me in the street.Uhh anyway so yes there is a storm and all the denial in the world didn't change that fact. It hit yesterday just after dark and really was quite heavy. We had about 6 inches on the ground in a couple of hours. We have a completely pastoral dairy farm here, with no sheds for the cows so they are all stuck outside. Cows are tough though and as long as you keep food in front of them they are ok. It's the new born calves that really struggle. They weren't even getting up, the poor little chaps. I brought one in about 7 o'clock. Mum did the late check at 9.30 or so and then that was it.

I woke up just before 3 in the morning. And lay in bed with the eerie white snow glow coming through the window thinking about little freezing baby animals. I tried to go back to sleep but it wasn't happening. So I found myself outside in the snow checking the soon to calve cows and the sheep. I tried to be really sneaky but the squeaking of the snow under my boots woke up the dogs and they kicked up a good ruckus. I'm going it's me it's me shut up, while the parentals and Kim are laying in bed wondering what the hell I'm up too. Actually, they thought I was checking the horses but I knew the horses would be fine, they all have double covers and hay and feeds. Anyway, there were two new calves that were cold and sad, the bull calf more so than the little girl. The little girl was very brand new, so wasn't as chilled. They got tucked up under a heat lamp and then I could sleep. Two more were born after I went to bed unfortunately and neither of them made it. The guilt! Mother and I are going to check them at 9, 12, and 3 tonight. Well I'll do 12 and 3. Mum will take the easier shifts.

The horses were fine though they are feeling the weather. The unclipped hair on the front of their faces is all poofed up which amuses me. I'm keeping a lot of hay in front of them. Today it started out miserable but was clear through most of the middle of the day which meant we could get everything fed on some grass as well as the silage, hay, fodderbeet (sugarbeet crossed with radishes- the cows go crazy for them. It's like cow crack apparently) and palm kernel. A lot of the snow melted but it's falling again now, though not as heavily. Up to 25cm is predicted overnight so fingers crossed that isn't the case. It's so hard on the animals. Well and the people. I was wearing two hats, a thermal, a polar fleece t-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt,a polar vest, trackies and waterproof leggings, a oilskin vest and a rain coat and gloves and still felt cold- though as soon as you move you are sweating. Those people that have proper snow all winter must be tough buggers. I'm sorry this is a fairly average post but you get what I have to give and right now it's not a lot!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Team trip to Tielcey Park 2 Part 2

Apparently there is another massive storm coming coming complete with snow, but I'm pretending it's not because it's going to suck, especially as when the weather turns bad the cows start shooting their babies out at a great rate. I have heard some arm flail reports that it may be the worst storm on record. Truckie also failed it's COF so I'm a bit stuck here what with Kate needing to be at the vet in Bulls next Wednesday to get her knee sorted so hoepfully I can get it fixed in time or I need to start ringing peeps with a float. I'm also on a de-tox for a week eating only fruit, nuts and vegetables in a bid to get my appetite for simple sugars and meat under control/ as an exercise in food discipline. For the reader who commented I must be fit from riding and farming, I am quite fit when I'm running as well, but mostly my lifestyle just means I'm very very strong. No lady like shoulders here.

Anyway back to Tielcey Park. After Connie it was on to Rascal to have a bit of a jump around and she was really really good. When I first brought her she was a really nice horse. Never going to be a super jumper but a really good straight forward horse. Then we had some rough times, with injuries and Kim knocking her confidence, and now after a season of hunting I have that nice straight forward horse back and I'm starting to enjoy her. She is currently on the market but so far no one has called or emailed :(. Still the shows are coming up and having her around will fill up my day and also all saddle time is good for me at this stage. Hopefully she will showhunter really well and be my diesel donkey. I guess there isn't actually much to say about it. Even from bad distances she was always locking to jump and she felt good. Not super powerful but she isn't super scopey. She was just good and easy and grown up.

Kate only went for a flatwork session and unlike last time when she wouldn't focus and relax because of the jumps, this time she actually worked really nicely. She was lovely and relaxed and happy to be out. I hate not knowing if she is going to be sound for the season, but I need to get her fit and lame to take her to treat it, even if that doesn't really make sense.

And then I let Kim canter around and jump some small stuff on her. They both love it, especially Kate. Please let her knee be fixable and let me have a good season on this lovely lovely horse. She owes me nothing at this point but I love jumping her. I paid a lot of money for her to only have two seasons, but she made me brave again, and got me showing, so really I owe her more than anything. Riding her is like riding a ferrari everything happens so quickly and lightly and she is so good for my riding. She is a plain jane, but she feels amazing. I wish I could send you the feeling of a big fence on that horse through the pc for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Team Trip to Tielcey Park 2

So last Wednesday (where has the week gone!) I was back at Tielcey Park with all of the ponies for some serious training. There were no calves born that day so I was free to go. It's actually pretty nice to line them all up and just ride them bang bang bang, instead of riding on over breakfast, two during lunch and one once I'm done sort of thing. It's really frustrating because I always feel time pressure and that's not good. I have even once gotten up in the dark and ridden in the dark before milking which is harder than you would think. You get to focus more on how the horse feels but it's odd how much you rely on your eyes when you are riding.

Anyways, I got on Bill first and the goal was to be in the outdoor and jump around lots of little jumps and put like little courses together. There is a bit of back story in that the day before I was ding fitness laps on the side of a hill and she was insanely difficult. She was fine at the trot but then I hit the big no once she started getting tired and there was some serious bucking and i actually nearly bought it twice. Twice she bucked so big I didn't think I was going to land anywhere the horse but somehow landed on her back and got her head up and sent her on. Mostly the canter was causing her to throw her toys. So I made her trot up and down that hill until she was tired and brought her home and cantered her for about 15 mins in my schooling paddock. Because her canter is so unbalanced I have just been letting her putter around, trying to get her to find her own balance. Well because she was bucking still, I had to take more contact and wrap more leg around her and I was quite hard on her. It actually helped though, and she was giving me some really nice canter work by the end even though she was a tired pony. Sometimes Bill starts trying to dictate how things are done but she needs to realise it's never do as Bill wants day and always do as I ask day.

In the picture above you can see why I have canter balance issues has so much energy coming from behind she doesn't seem to know what to do with it. Her back feet are so high off of the ground and it's always like this. She is a real power pony. Anyway, she worked really nicely at Tielcey on the flat and gave me some great canter work with no buck. After that on ride when I was tougher on her, she has really started to find her canter balance, and I'm able to help her more.

She is so freaking cute! I'm getting to be pretty in love with this horse, she is so exciting to train and see how she improves, and feel the potential. Anyway, she was good to all of the fences. Just small crosses from the trot and little uprights and a little picket. She went straight over the picket which was really cool. She jumped it pretty big and kept an eye on it all the way over but she jumped it first time.

What was really cool was feeling her start to get it and trot more forward to the fences and even start cantering that last stride and place herself and pop over. She did collect one fence. Kim put it up and she completely misjudged it (I can say it's her fault, because I never place them when they are starting I just sit quiet and let them figure it out. It's hard to do, but ultimately means they can save your butt later down the line) and skittled the fence but after that she was so careful not to touch anything at all.

The coolest part was when I went down this one line and she trotted in and jumped the first fence in the line and then carried on in the canter and popped over the next fence and cantered through the two stride double. A bit crooked, a bit wobbly but ultimately she would go over the fence and at this stage thats all I'm really worried about.

This red oxer felt humungous to me, but is actually pretty small. It would be lucky to be two feet. Still she went straight over and felt pretty good to be honest. Even from a slow trot and going crooked to a small she leaves the ground powerfully and wants to make the right shape- get up with her shoulder, low with her head and she wants to get the back end up.

Connie was next to ride and getting onto Connie is always like climbing onto an old friend. She is a hairy scruffy unfit friend but familiar all the same. Her flatwork is still there but she tires quickly. I didn't do too much and then had a bit of a gallop around for fun. She never got into a gallop I don't think, just a fast canter, but it sure looks like she is channeling her TB mother.

I popped around a few fences and Connie was good but lazy. At one point Kim put a fence up and even though I knew it was an easy 5 strides as soon as the fence went up I reverted to old habits and hustled her down the line and got her deep. Yuk! I'm better than that! It just went up and I felt I needed more speed and thats really not the case at all.

honestly, She felt bloody crap. She felt scopeless and not a jumper at all. for Connie to jump well she needs to be really fit and the fences need to be big. She doesn't waste any unnecessary energy over a fence, so at 1m or so she feels so average. It's almost disheartening only I know thats just how she is. I foresee plenty of hill work in her future though!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


UUUhhhhhhhhhhhh. I have so many cure pictures to share with you and lots of good news, but I'm too tired right now. I went out today to clip Connie and Kate as their winter coats are starting to shift and I'm sick of taking them out and having them mistaken for a goat (Kate) and a yak (Connie). I don't love clipping now the novelty has worn off but it's not a job I hate and I can do a reasonable full clip in about 45 mins to an hour depending on equine co-operation.

Today was an absolute debacle though. My clippers would just not work that well. I got half a horse done before they stopped cutting well. I muddled on and got Kate finished, though it's not a very smooth even job. Ultimately though her hair is gone and thats the most important thing. She is going to be a lot less of a sweaty muddy mess now. So I started Connie hoping her coarser coat must cut better, and I had the same problems. It would cut for a sweep or two but then just stop cutting. I checked the brushes and then broke a brushes cap which is now replaced with one that sort of works that I stole from an ancient set of cow clippers.

They still wouldn't work that well and Dad had a play around for a while and then gave up. If he can't fix it, it's a problem because he is like Macgyver all he needs is gum and a bit of string and he can fix anything. In the end I would do a sweep and when they stopped cutting I'd tighten the blades a quarter turn and they would cut. Then that stopped working and then I don't know what happened but they just started working and I got Connie finished, legs and all. I don't know how good it will look because by this time I was clipping under a single light bulb and was struggling with the shadows. Thankfully, Connie is a real doll to clip and isn't phased by the clippers at all. She also gets these crazy dapples when she is clipped as well, that are tan circles with a darker inside which is rather odd. She has a lot of birdcatcher spots at the moment as well so she is looking pretty gorgeous now that her beard is gone.

Kate is harder to clip so I give her an oral sedative. Someone must have done a cut her armpits up pretty good though because even sleepy as she still wont let you clip her legs and is very touchy when you do under her chest and behind her elbows, she tries to lay down/collapse in front. I don't think it's worth the battle really just to have perfectly tidy armpits, so she looks like a french woman with her hair au natural. Poor old Kate. I will probably take her over to the vet in the next couple of weeks and get this knee sorted out. Now I just have three manes to pull and one to roach and everything will be show ready. Oh and yea today clipping took me 4 and a half hours to do two horses. Lame. My arm is tired.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Horses that stop

I relatively often hear people say that they will never jump a horse that stops and in the many hours I spend driving slowly after a herd of cows, or milking, or shoveling feed for the cows I have had a lot of time to ponder this statement. It occurred to me that nearly every horse I have ridden has stopped at one stage or another for one reason or another. There have been a variety of reason, some have been forgivable and some haven't. Mostly when they stopped it was my fault. So then lets discuss why horses stop.

There are two types of refusal. The run out and the stop. The run out if always rider error. Always. A run out means you don't have control or have left the door open- either by throwing away the contact, or not having the leg on. Even not looking straight can cause a really sensitive horse to run out. You need to be locked on to the fence- Mentally I try to shut out everything and ride straight to the fence, with my eyes, my hands and my legs all working to get the horse straight to the jump. This also helps me see my distances. My very favourite kind of runout is when little kids on old wily ponies canter towards the fence and very gradually the pony circles away from the fence which to the riders dismay. Ponies, such heartless little bastards.

A stop however can be rider error, or a problem with the horse. There are also two kinds o stop though. The genuine stop or the dirty stop. Kate has a bit of a dirty stop because she stops at the fence and spins away wile dropping her shoulder, turning me into a cannonball. Dirty stoppers are those horses that feel like they start to leave the ground and set back down again, those horses that stop to get you off. I'm not a huge fan of those horses, I can see why people don't want to ride them.

So then reasons why a horse might stop/ start stopping:

-Horse doesn't understand its job

Horses are born knowing how to jump, but they aren't born knowing how to jump with a rider. It takes time for a horse to learn what is expected of it. After all why go over, when you can just go around? Teaching a horse to jump is a relatively basic process, but it takes some time and needs to follow logical steps so that the horse is happily carrying you around courses of jumps and through combinations. Personally I think you need to expose your horse to a variety of different jumps so that later on they know to just jump whats in front of them, regardless how scary it is. There is no rush to add height to the fences, even though it's so tempting when you are sitting on something talented. You always want to finish on a good note as well, so if you get one particularly nice jump just call it a day. You run into trouble later on, if you skip the lower boring confidence building steps.

-Horse isn't balanced or fit enough to jump

Jumping is hard work for a horse and the horse needs to arrive at the fence with enough impulsion to clear the fence. It sounds basic I know but it can be really quite difficult, especially if your horse is pone to fall behind the leg or ran at fences. there isn't really much point in doing a lot of jumping on a horse who hasn't got a developed canter. If it canter in a rhythm and carry itself then you are good to start doing more jumping, but until then stick to trot fences, because you are just making it really hard for both horse and rider. There is also no point jumping a horse who is unfit. by all means pop over a few fences, but if you jump the guts out of them and make them too tired, they will either start stopping or start taking lots of rails which my cause them to start stopping. I feel that ultimately you want your horse to really enjoy jumping, and so you need to be careful to not take the fun out of it.

-Horse is spooked by the fences/fillers
There is a conundrum in jumping in that a spooky horse will often be cleaner and try harder not to take rails than a bold horse, but the spooky horse may stop at the scarier fences. This is why it's good to expose them to lots of different things when the fences are small and the horses are green so that to just jump it becomes second nature. Kate will always be dodgy to liverpools because she hates them so it's something I need to be aware of, and always be ready to give her a strong ride to them.

-Horse has been previously cooked/soured
As I said earlier I think it's important to keep jumping fun for the horses. It's actually pretty easy to pressurize them or sour them to jumping so that they start stopping. Once they start doing this for these reasons it can be really hard to fix, and some cooked horses never jump well again. I know of one pony that refused to jump 1m high. 95cm was fine- but if it was a big 95cm then forget about it. This was a pony that jumped grand prix as a 6 yr old, and mentally wasn't able to cope with jumping that big and completely shutdown. You need to build a horses confidence so they feel confident and happy at the bigger heights. There is no point cantering down a big grid, clearing 1.30m and then showing your horse at that height the next day when previously hew has only jumped 1m. Even though he is physically capable, he needs to be mentally ready as well. For me I know I can move up when both myself and the horse cruise around the height comfortably and it feels easy. I know of one horse that is spooky at a new height until she gets comfortable at that height, and then she stops looking at scary fences and just jumps. In the meantime it can be difficult for her rider. You can easily over jump a horse as well, so that it becomes sheer tedium for them. Especially when conditions are less than ideal. A few cross rails or poles every ride if you are that way inclined, though I tend to not do that, is fine but horses, like people, need variety in their lives.

-Horse is being caused pain by jumping
This is a big one really. Horses can't tell us they are sore really and sometimes stopping can be indicative of this. Kate started stopping at the end of the season, and despite being told she was just being a dog, I took her to the vet and she has some arthritis in her knee, which explained lots of things for me really about he she was going and some sourness she showed under saddle. It's hard sometimes a horse stops because it is just stopping and doesn't want to play the game, and sometimes there is something wrong. I tend to think horses are mostly pretty genuine and so deserve the benefit of the doubt. but then I can remember Connie being naughty and not jumping combinations for one show until she had a towel up and then she jumped like a star so yea it's difficult. Though if you have a vet go over them and give them a clean bill of health then you know the problem lies else where.

Also important- saddle isn't pinching, bit isn't pinching, ground isn't too hard. Overjumping on hard ground will start a horse stopping like nothing else. you only get one set of front legs on your horse and they have only so many miles in them, so they are worth looking after. Sometimes horses can get a bit stiff and sore especially at shows and will need more loosening up, but mostly if your horse feels good, it will jump.

-Horse is scoped out

It can be really hard to face but sometimes you need to realise you have done what you can with one horse and if you want to move on you need a new horse. Not all horses are good jumpers and most of them have height ceiling above which they are no longer competitive. you can break a good horse with lots of heart but making him jump at the top of his scope all the time, and making it hard for him. Thats not fun for a pony. Judicious class selection may get a little more out of a real gutsy horse with a lot of try, by jumping a big class and then backing off for the rest of the show or so on, but sometimes your horse is stopping because he simply can't jump that high.

-Rider gets the horse to the fence on a bad distance
The majority of the time if you get your horse to the fence with a good quality canter a reasonable take-off point will be available. Though the higher the fences get the less you are able to be to far off or too close to the base of the fence. The margin of error shrinks as the fences get taller and wider. If you get to the base of the fence on a genuine half stride and the fence is over 1m, chances are your horse is going to stop. And if it doesn't, you may wish it did. I feel it's much better to have your horse stop and look after itself and you, than be bold and jump and potentially bring you both down. Thats not to say a horse shouldn't try from a reasonable difference thats a touch long or short, but horses have limits. Sometimes it's better to just thank them for saving your bacon.

-Rider is inhibiting the horses ability to jump
So the horse needs to get to the fence on a good canter, to a reasonable difference and you should be ok. However, if you are inhibiting the horse over the fence, it may start stopping when it anticipates the restriction. Mostly, it's riders really running horses at fences so they are too flat to jump up over the fences, or not allowing the horse to use it's head and neck over the fence. Most horses want to lower their head and neck over the fence, creating a nice round shape. If your reins are too short, or your hands don't release over the fence you can cause the horse to start stopping. If they don't start stopping, you may find they lose their form and start stag leaping, and dangling the front legs. Again you want jumping to be fun for the horse, and if you get in their way and make it hard you start creating problems.

-Rider isn't committed to the jump
Horses are like psychic ninjas. They know when you are scared. It's ok to be scared but if you are jumping you have to commit to the fence. Half assed approaches can lead to accidents and damaging a horses confidence. By all means if you are coming in and you can see that your distance is bad, quietly circle away, but otherwise you have to commit to the fence. If you canter in all lack lustre and scared the chances are that yes your horse will stop. They just know! Commit!

-Rider is unbalanced/not skilled enough
To be brutally honest if you aren't ready to be jumping, then just don't. Put some work in so that you are stable enough to jump and then start jumping. It keeps it more fun for horse and rider. A horse cannot be balanced if the rider is unbalanced, that's just they way it is. Carrying an uneven or unstable load is really hard work.

-Rider is not riding the horse the way the horse prefers

Some horses like to be ridden a certain way. Kate likes a buttload of contact coming into the fence. It feels like I'm pulling backwards almost, but it makes her more confident to the spooky stuff. Connie of the other hand likes to jump from a forward flowing stride with minimal contact (They don't make it easy for me) Rascal likes quite a lot of contact but likes the freedom to really lower her head on the last stride before take-off. And Bill? Well it's too early to tell yet, but I feel she will not like too much contact. If I don't ride them the way they prefer it can lead to stops. You need to jump a lot of small fences on a new horse, and learn what makes them tick, what makes them jump confidently in good form, and what makes them jump badly. Otherwise how else do you know? All horses are different and while it's good to have a system, it's important to ride and treat each one as the individual it is.

This is all for now I think, I have to go feed said beasties.