Weekend Wrap-Up: Windridge XC Schooling

Sunday P and I headed to Windridge for the 3rd weekend in a row, this time for XC schooling! We were meeting up with Bette, Sara, and a local horse friend, Paula. My goal was to get out and school P on some of the things we didn’t have on our course last weekend, like water/ditch/bank, and jump some BN jumps.

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P is not the most fun horse in the world to take group schooling anywhere. He always has to know where the other horses are and gets annoying if we venture too far away. It can definitely be a challenge to keep his attention on what we’re doing and off of the others. He doesn’t get like that when we’re alone (which is 99% of outings/competitions), even when he’s in a sea of horses, but he definitely knows when he’s in the company of friends.

Thank you to Bette for all the pictures! They gave me the warm and fuzzies.

After warming up, we headed right to the water.

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Well, that was easy.

So then I added in a jump we jumped last weekend to the water. Omg, the right drift is killing me. More on that later.

Then in an attempt to correct our my ever present right drift, I aimed to go left on landing. Still drifting. Ugh.

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P goes zoomie

 

So then we headed down the  hill to the BN/N bank. P has only ever schooled the baby one at Kingfisher, so this one was about double its size.

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P hesitated for a second going down, but was still a willing participant. Definitely more practice is needed for me before we add speed to a bank like this that lands on a downhill slope, but this was a good starting point.

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Fixing a slipped down boot

 

Then we headed to a line of jumps. In a continuation of the right drift, let’s play a game of “Did P jump the starter or BN jump?”

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I mean, come on.

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And again:

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It’s definitely more me than P…I sit heavier to the right. And we’ll get a straight approach….then something happens in the last couple of strides when I focus more on leg on to ensure he actually, ya know, JUMPS, and I must do something that causes the last second drift. Many gymnastics are in the very near future.

Then the others moved to the warmup area since Bette, who was horseless thanks to a loooong, drawn out abscess, hopped on Sara’s pocket rocket, Gem.

And mean old me made P head to the start box to continue jumping.

We started with the blue rolltop that we did last weekend.

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Then the BN rolltop.

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Then we all headed to the ditch area. P didn’t care about it at all, which is his usual response to ditches, unless I TELL PEOPLE THAT.

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Next I asked P to jump the cabin we jumped last week. Except this time I stopped riding a few strides out and he stopped. Because forward, remember? Well, he jumped it the second time when I actually put my leg on. 100% my stop, not his, and I don’t want to jinx it, but stops in general are getting much fewer and far between.

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Then the other way because Bette said she could get a better picture that way. Anything for a picture, amirite?

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And then after a swift kick in the pants from dear Bette, put together the BN cabin and ditch. P obviously had trouble.

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Then a little hanging log/stones to the small cabin.

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P ALWAYS knows where the camera is

 

And finished with another trip over the BN cabin to ditch.

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Overall, it was another confidence boosting outing, which was the exact purpose. I didn’t want to push either P or I too much on my own, and will wait until I can drag Trainer B with us. By now he’s pretty good at walking the line of not letting me be a wimp and yet not over-facing either of us. He was going there the same day, but could only go in the afternoon, and I had already planned for the morning with the girls, so couldn’t make later work. Maybe someday.

 

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Great company!

 

But goodness, BN is looking quite small (and feels even smaller)!

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Not So Serious

I had Saturday all mapped out- after a jump lesson with Trainer B the day before and XC schooling planned for Sunday, we were going to the dressage arena to work through this nifty little exercise to maybe, just MAYBE obtain some semblance of straightness.

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Then I found out new BO has a T-Rex costume. So training went straight out the window.

2.pngI had no idea how this was going to go.

I put it on in the arena in front of him and he was bored. So I climbed on and walked. Uneventful. So we trotted (no, I didn’t see the trot poles, I couldn’t see anything). And then cantered (again, didn’t see the pole). Still not impressed, even with the tail slapping against him. The head flopping around in the canter makes me die laughing every single time I see it.

I just love him.

Next Steps

After the total high that was Windridge Horse Trials, I’m already looking forward to the next one. I don’t majikally think he’ll never stop again, or expect that we’ll lead from start to finish again, but it was definitely a step in the right direction, one that I’ve pointed him towards the last 2 years and failed every time. We’ve never finished on our dressage score before…ever. He’s always had a refusal on either XC or in SJ (or both), or I’d somehow manage to eliminate us, OR I’d scratch because he’d be stopping at warmup jumps. So while ya, it was starter and all of 2’3″, it was exactly what him and I needed.

Oh, and I’m making Trainer B ride him the day before horse trials EVERYTIME. Not messing with a winning formula.

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For most people, the season is coming to an end, but I’m in Area II and close to Area III so there’s still some to choose from. As I was perusing the USEA website, I saw that River Glen in TN has a starter division that maxes out at 2’6″. Bigger than the typical 2’3″starter courses that I’ve been at and sounded like the perfect segue to BN since it’d be half little jumps and half BN sized jumps. So I emailed the secretary to see if they would be offering it, and…ugh.

3f96a41762d4a39d130b9712d32d6b06--scandal-sonsThey ARE, but they’re running it as a one-day on Friday only with no stabling offered. Since I’m 4 hours away, that’s just not happening. Their BN course looks very inviting though, and they list it as average on the Omnibus. I’ve cyber-stalked YouTube and MyCourseWalk and the fences don’t appear to be daunting, with lots of galloping in between to get rolling.

BUT. BN = USEA record and what if Windridge was a fluke?

Another option is to go to Full Gallop the weekend before and run their starter course as one more practice before BN, then head to River Glen for BN. That would be great if the Full Gallop weekend wasn’t already a bit…full. That Friday night I’m taking my oldest kid to a concert and then Saturday I’m running the Spartan Beast: all 14+ miles and 30+ obstacles. Last year it took me 6 hours, which means I wouldn’t even be able to get to Aiken until Sunday morning. I can already tell you that even just walking the XC course (and even SJ), let alone riding it, not even 24 hours out from the Beast would simply suck.

 

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This will be me the day after

 

The OTHER option I have is to brave going back to Carolina Horse Park for their unrecognized horse trial. It’s the same weekend as River Glen, but half the distance and half the cost. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

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I’m hesitant about that one because, well, my last experience at CHP was less than stellar. And not even the whole becoming a lawn dart in stadium. No, it’s because the schooling day was absolute madness and I’m NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.

Throughout the year, they typically have the schooling day on Saturday and the horse trial on Sunday. But the November one is also a championship, so they’re having D/SJ/XC schooling on Friday, SJ/XC schooling on Saturday while simultaneously running the HT dressage, then running the HT SJ/XC on Sunday. I can already picture the chaos. When I went for the regular HT in June there were 250+ entries. With the addition of the championship, I’d imagine the entries would be even higher.

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So.

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What I DO know is that P & I are heading back to Windridge for the 3rd weekend in a row, this time for XC schooling on Sunday. Then I’m hoping to get in another hunter pace the next Sunday in Tryon, and then there are 2 local jumper shows the last weekend in October to pick from.

Now I just have to decide the best route to take for all 3 phases! Feel free to chime in!

Option A: Run BN at River Glen and hope for the best.

Option B: Go to FG November 5th and do starter while trying to stay on despite having legs of jelly. Then go to River Glen the following weekend for BN.

Option C: Stick to the schooling and local shows in October and then brave CHP’s schooling HT.

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P got off a well deserved Monday & Tuesday, then yesterday I went to go set up a gymnastic exercise. One of the things Trainer B noticed when he rode him is that P gets flustered if you don’t help him pick a distance, and it’s high time he learned where to put his own feet and for me to learn to stay out of his way. So I watched this handy tutorial courtesey of EventionTV and copied it at home. P’s never done a bounce before so I started with just the trot poles and bounce.

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After an initial WTF moment when he considered making the bounce an oxer (I had seen it coming and had already grabbed mane) he was phenomenal through it. So I put the one-stride vertical up, and while in the past P has balked when he’s seen a mess of poles (let alone all different colors of the rainbow), he sailed right over. Rinse and repeat a few more times and he got to be done. So proud of this guy!

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Self-Defeating Personality Disorder

I just diagnosed myself because there’s no other explanation for the madness I’m about to type next:

I need a new dressage saddle.

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Trainer J has told me the last 2 lessons that this needs to happen, but I’ve stubbornly refused to even look at saddle websites.

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Then this past weekend at Windridge, I decided to take her advice and experiment by riding my dressage test in my jump saddle. And it was heaven. Even though the judge wasn’t a fan of ours, she was even less of a fan of everyone else, including those in dressage saddles. And it was so nice not to have to fight my tack for once.

I just…have NO idea what I’m looking for. Trainer J is sponsored by Stackhouse and that’s all she rides in. I simply can’t drop $6k on another saddle, at least not this year.

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My own (used) Stackhouse is a great saddle. It’s comfy, got great leather, looks nice, fits P (not an easy thing to do)….but much like my old dressage saddle, it doesn’t fit ME very well.

When I tried it, it was miles away a better fit for me than my original dressage saddle, which was an HDR. So I mistook that for actually fitting me, and me just having things to work on (balance, leg in the correct position, etc). But I’ve made more of an effort to ride in it these past couple weeks and it’s clear now that it’s just wrong for me. My knees hang over the knee rolls and the balance doesn’t work for me- while it doesn’t tip me fetal-position-forward like HDR did, I’m constantly in front of or behind the motion. While I can get away with riding in it for a short while, like warmup + dressage test length, I’m fighting the saddle so much that it wears me out and makes my hips sore after awhile. I have yet to make it through an entire 45 minute lesson with Trainer J because I get SO TIRED.

So, there. It’s written down so I must actually do something about it now. But where to start? Do I like blocks? Deeper or more shallow seats? Wide or narrow twists? Monoflap? And I can’t even begin to think about flap length.

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I have stupidly long legs, especially from thigh to knee. I mean, who needs this much length on their legs? It’s unnecessary.

Not to mention, I don’t even know what a good dressage saddle FEELS like. So I don’t want to get sucked into thinking something fits, only to find out that it’s marginally better than the last one, like I did with dear old Stackhouse.

So if anyone has any suggestions on even where to start (or what to avoid), send them my way! I’m not in any hurry, since apprently the world won’t end if I do my tests in my jump saddle, but I am going to start browsing…maybe.

Windridge Farm Horse Trials

Since I have pretty much zero media besides an iPhone video of stadium and some random pictures, I’m just going to cram everything into one post.

Friday P and I headed to Trainer B’s for our regularly scheduled session. P warmed up well over a couple jumps, and I was feeling great because we’d had fantastic rides all week.

Because the SJ at Windridge is on grass and pretty much all the jumps are either uphill or downhill, we rode in the field to work on balance to and over fences on terrain. Well….P was not too happy about Trainer B moving the jumps around and making them look different, and stopped at the first fence, a lattice gate with a pole. Same jump we’ve jumped many, many times before, just 3 feet from where it originally was.

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After getting him over it and doing it a few more times, he then stopped at another jump. And I was frustrated.

Trainer B: Do you want me to get on?

Me: ::leaps off horse and brandishes reins::

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Long story short, Trainer B rides much more positively than I do and does not give in to P’s hesitations. Besides one initial stop, he had P jumping around the course, then got off and offered me the reins back.

Trainer B: He’s a lot more forward now. Don’t take that away.

Me: tenor

But we jumped around it successfully, called it a day, then P & I headed off to Windridge!

P settled in like the champ that he is and I went off to hook up my trailer at the campsite, which luckily wasn’t too far from his stall. Then I hopped on and we went for a long walk to stretch his legs. One of the best things about P is how he takes in chaos. Horses unloading from trailers, tents being set up, golf carts and little motorbikes zipping around…nothing much fazes him. The only thing that really ever gets to him are loose horses (but I can forgive that).

Saturday we had a dressage time of 11:52 and SJ at 3. I lightly lunged P at 9, then went up to get ready. The dressage arena was in the middle of nowhere and I was told it was a 20 minute walk on horseback, so I got on at 11 and headed over.

Well, it was a 5 minute walk and they were running late so I had a long time to go. P and I just hung out under the trees for awhile and watched tests and some of the crazier warmup riders (highly entertaining as long as you don’t have to dodge them).

Then when we were 2 riders out, I did a little reinforcement of forwardness, trotted a few minutes, cantered a few big and small circles, and we went in!

By the time we finished, I had a gigantic grin on my face. There were moments that I knew we’d lose points on- his left lead canter depart was a bit, uh, expressive, and there was a moment where I felt him want to break to the trot (but didn’t), and our first centerline was a bit wobbly. BUT….he was rideable the entire time. He wasn’t exploding through my aids nor was he dead to the world. It was the most fun in a dressage test that I’d had on him so far and really thought we did well.

Apparently the judge didn’t agree.

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While this is the worst dressage score he’s ever gotten, and I definitely don’t think our test was nearly THAT bad, apparently the judge had equal disdain for my entire division.

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Now we’re no stranger to being at or near the top after dressage. So I wasn’t surprised (except at how bad the score was) but I also wasn’t optimistic that we’d keep the lead. 2nd place was only 1.5 points behind me so that meant if we wanted to stay in first, we couldn’t have any refusals.

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SJ was indeed on grass and very hilly. Trainer B wasn’t kidding when he said every jump was on a hill.

I believe this was set at BN when I walked it, as my course didn’t have a 6B.

 

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Jump 1 had a good uphill straight line to it


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Then jump 2 was sideways on a hill


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Down the hill to this bright oxer


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And around the driving obstacles (so cool!) and right up against the tape to get a straight shot to 4. This fence caused the most problems


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Around and down the hill again to 5


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Then uphill to 6B (they took out jump A)


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Down hill to 7


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Roll back and down hill to 8, which was slanted a bit and right past the in-gate, which caused some issues


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Then back around the driving obstacles to 9 and 5 strides to 10

P warmed up great, so I kept it short. I didn’t bother with the cross-rail and just did the vertical once each lead and the oxer twice each lead. Their SJ/XC warmup area is great because it’s on a pretty big hill so you get to really practice riding up and down hill…a must for riding at this venue.

Then it was our turn!

I trotted P in and headed straight to jumps 3 and 4 so he could get a look at them. Then we were off.

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It was Husband’s birthday, so after Child #1’s football game that morning, he and the kids drove up and got there about 10 minutes after my dressage test (good timing there, Husband). P was happy that his treat minions were there:

 

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Baby Noah will share French fries with P, but not with the rest of us

Then we headed 20 minutes down the road to Tryon International Equestrian Center for the $86,000 Grand Prix! It’s one of my (and Husband’s, believe it or not) favorite places to go, but about 1.5 hours from our house, so we don’t get to go that often. It’s a fun place to be no matter what, but if you HAVE to bring kids, they have a ton of things for them to do.

 

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Required birthday selfie


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Pony rides on polo ponies!

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He wanted to dismount properly


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Husband made him wear the pink helmet because real men wear pink…or something like that

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Face painting


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Carousel ride


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Justin says this is easier than riding P

 

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Dinner at Roger’s Diner

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Riding the bucking horse! He fell off at 56 seconds-4 seconds longer and he would’ve won!


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And the tradition of rolling down the hills during the drag break.

Then they dropped me off back at the barn to do night check while they headed home. Husband’s back isn’t in great shape right now and since I was camping, I didn’t think a truck bed air mattress would be a good idea.

While I was dumping his poop at the muck dump and refilling water buckets…everytime I turned around, P had somehow flipped the hay bale and then looked at me like, “Wut?”

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“I didn’t do nufin.”

The forecast called for rain and t-storms starting at 11PM and lasting all day Sunday. Trainer B had asked me if I had studs and no…I don’t. P’s not even tapped. Apparently Windridge gets slick and like SJ, all the fences are on hills. So I figured I’d play it by ear. My ride time wasn’t until 1 PM, so I’d have plenty of time to watch other riders and see how it went. If it was slippery, I’d scratch. I’d rather withdraw than go out and make a mess of XC- P needs confident runs, as do I.

When I woke up the next morning, it was still dry, so I headed off to walk XC one more time, then hung with P before going to church.

When the stall guard is up, we conserve our hay.

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Halfway through mass, I had this terrible feeling, like I was missing something. And sure enough, when I got back to the truck and looked through the XC fence pictures I’d taken, discovered that I’d MISSED A FENCE. Just completely walked from 7 to 9, and had NO IDEA where fence 8 was. Uhhhhhh.

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So I sped back to the grounds and ran to fence 7 to figure out where 8 was. And while I had to make a slight adjustment to my planned track, it wasn’t too bad…I must have just walked right on by it on both my earlier course walks. Genius, I am.

So I went to go lunge P again for a few minutes and that’s when the rain started.

And I felt…relieved that I might have to scratch. Because while sure, those jumps are small, most were pretty wide, a few were set on a steep up or down hill, and let’s be real- this is P we’re talking about. P has yet to make it around an XC course without a refusal. And I totally know this is stupid, but I’m uber competitive and to go from first to either last place, or even be eliminated (totally realistic possibility here) would suck.

But then the rain stopped after maybe 15 minutes or so, and I couldn’t NOT go. So I went to get ready and then suit P up.

 

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How he prepares for XC

We headed to warmup, hung out for a bit and watched some riders go..and fail. Most had a refusal at jump 2 and one got eliminated there. Great for my already delicate psyche on my stopper.

Then we were 2 out, so I popped him over the vertical, oxer and log pile a few times, and we headed for the start box.

I didn’t wear my helmet cam for 2 reasons: 1) it was supposed to rain, and 2) why would I want to document refusals?

I regret everything.

Also, I was going sans watch because 1) it broke and I didn’t have time to replace it, and 2) we probably weren’t going to get very far anyway.

A new watch is currently on its way to me.

Most riders that I watched were trotting out of the start box and over jump 1, which you got to pretty much immediately after leaving the start, then not having enough momentum to get up the hill and over 2, which was at the top of the hill. So I planned to get out of the start box and get going as forward as possible to build on that going up the hill. P was all, “why we going so fast to start” but listened well and jumped it perfectly.

 

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When we were here in June for XC schooling, P stopped at jump 2 twice and eventually needed a lead over. And it was giving others problems. So I told myself to sit back and kick. P hesitated when we got to the top and saw everything that was beyond it- jump judges, golf carts, etc. but I stuck to my plan and put my leg on and he popped right over.

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Then we headed down the hill to 3- sideways. There was a lot to look at and P was looking at everything except the jump I needed him to see. I finally got him set on it a few strides out.

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We landed off 3 and P was like, “I gotz the zoomies” and took off. I pointed him up the hill towards another roll top and he was all over it.

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Jump 5 was one of the boogy fences I was concerned about. It was a ramp, which he’s never seen, at the top of a steep hill, and the most solid looking jump on the course. So I planned to give P a good boot up to this one as soon as we got straight.

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I would actually come to regret the extra leg, because after this jump we were supposed to arc out to the right to get straight to jump 6. P didn’t hesitate at this and we flew right past where we were supposed to turn. We wiggled back on track and he leapt over. I forgot a picture of this one, but it was just a raised log with a bunch of big stones under it.

Then it was a straight shot down the hill to the cabin in the woods. The cabin was low, but wide, and had a little cut out in the middle with flowers in it. P definitely looked at it, but again listened when I put my leg on.]

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Then we rolled back and went to jump 8, on our newly planned track. This was a step thingy and I needed to turn about 2 strides after landing. P was back on a roll by now and steeplechased this one.

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There was an option for going through the water, which I wanted to do, but a jump judge was parked in the way of my track so we had to skirt the water and get to jump 9. It took everything I had to turn the freight train that was my horse by now, and he just soared over 9.

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Then it got a little hairy. P landed and was off again…but we needed to be turning left down the hill. He had locked onto that Prelim jump beyond jump 9 and was hauling ass towards it with his ears pointed straight for it. I couldn’t slow him down or turn him, so I finally one-reined “stopped” him which really just got him down to the trot. Then we turned and trotted down the hill, and when we reached the flat part, I asked him for the canter again so we could go uphill and to the right to the bench out of the woods, another one I was concerned about. I shouldn’t have been.

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We galloped over the green box thing-y.

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Then it was a straight gallop to the last jump, a wide table, aka another jump he’s never seen and another one I was worried about.

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P was pounding over the ground, flicking his ears at all the jumps and trying to figure out which one was ours. I probably could’ve pointed him at any one of them and he would’ve gone. But I got him locked onto ours and while he definitely peeked at it, he went right over and we were through the finish flags!

You run into the woods shortly after the flags and P wasn’t about to stop so we circled like 5 times before he finally dropped to the trot. One of the volunteers was staring at us wide-eyed, and I had the feeling we’d had some speed faults. I said to the timer, “Feels like I just saw you,” and he said, “Yeah, definitely wasn’t that long ago.” So, oops. I mean, the course was only 300m/m and we were flying, no doubt.

BUT. Besides the slight steering issues, P felt incredible. While there were times on course I thought that we were definitely going too fast for our division, I didn’t want to fight with him over speed. He was jumping the jumps, I’m not messing with a thing! So even if we got speed faults, they weren’t refusals and that’s what matters. P strutted back to the barn and I may or may not have shed a few tears on the way because HE DIDN’T STOP.

And it turned out making him trot down the hill (vs jump the Prelim fence) was the best decision ever because we beat the speed fault time by 2 seconds!

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And finished on our dressage score for the FIRST TIME EVER!

 

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P: Where’s my hay?

XC Schooling

 

Yesterday I had a meeting that was supposed to last pretty much all day, but thankfully ended early so I took advantage of the additional time and loaded P up to go XC schooling. After the disaster that was P + water at the hunter pace on Sunday, I needed to make sure that was just a fluke and he still, in fact, does not hate water.

After a couple trot and canter laps around the field to warmup, I aimed him straight for it.

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XC4

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Then we headed for the bank to make sure that was still in place as well. We haven’t schooled water since June, and banks or real ditches since…well, I can’t exactly remember.

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Yeah, I think we’re good there, too.

So then we went to the ditch. And I remembered to look up.

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XC1

 

So XC basics:

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We went back to the water and practiced jumping out of the water over a little vertical that was already set up. P’s never jumped a jump straight out of the water and he was perfecto.

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And then jumped a few other things that Husband couldn’t keep up with, so here’s helmet cam footage. See how we jump mostly to the right? Yeah, I was more concerned with making sure he’d actually jump the jumps and COMPLETELY forgot to, ya know, center us.

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And then to end, I decided to hop him over a log at the top of the mound. That’s something P’s also never done. I almost lost my nerve when I saw there was little room on the landing side- started imagining him leaping over the log and having no ground under him because I’m a worst-case-scenario type of person. So I took him up and walked him around both sides of the log….then went back down and picked up the canter.

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What a rockstar my horse is.

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As always after XC, P was strutting walking back to the trailer. Sometimes I question whether he wants to event, then I ride him on an XC course and once he gets going and his confidence builds, there’s no doubt he’s enjoying himself.

We’ll dressage it up tonight, then lesson with Trainer B Friday, and straight to Windridge after that!

 

99 Problems But a Rolltop (MAYBE) Ain’t One of Them

I don’t want to get too excited but I may be cancelling my national “burn all the rolltops” tour after all. Though yes, he jumped it on the first try, this may have been slightly excessive:

 

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Yes, that’s a dumb smile on my face. No, I don’t even care

But let’s back up.

As all grey horse owners know, if you’re in a hurry to leave, your grey horse will undoubtedly be massively disgusting. Probably green, and DEFINITELY yellow.  On the flip side, if you have time to spare, your grey horse will be spotless.

 

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Have to leave in 5 minutes

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Arrived an hour early to account for grooming/bath

New barn is about 10 minutes further away than the old barn from Trainer B’s, so I got there at 10:30 Friday morning with a departure time of 11:15. Truck was hooked up by 10:32, P was groomed and ready to go by 10:40, trailer was packed by 10:43. So that left half an hour.

Husband thought napping was a good idea.

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But I had other ideas:

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That ball has been in New Barn since I arrived and I’ve been eying it, but never had the time to pull it out before. P’s initial reaction was:

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But as long as I was near it he was willing to give it a shot.

Next step: horse soccer!

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I so badly need this costume first, though

Then it was time to stop torturing my horse and get on the trailer to Trainer B’s.

We started in the arena for warmup:

Then it was Rolltop Time!

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Well, first the ditch. I requested that we do a little ditch work in the hopes that maybe I won’t for whatever reason STARE into it. The first time I failed miserably.

Trainer B: Don’t let it die.

Me: Ok

Trainer B: Feel it die?

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The second time was A-OK.

And onto the rolltop we went. With Trainer B & his trusty tree branch ready to assist if needed.

Attempt #1. I felt like this heading up the hill to the green RT of Death:

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Victory is mine!

And Trainer B’s. He had a little to do with it, too, I suppose.

 

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If you’re seeing this, Trainer B, I’m TOTALLY KIDDING

But it does appear that my work at home has actually paid off. Trainer B joked (or maybe not) that he was going to send me a picture of it to hang in his stall if he stopped at it one more time. So P gets to keep his stall RT-free…for now.

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Something that I’m definitely aware of, but have not practiced enough on correcting since we just moved to New Barn, is our tendency to drift right over jumps. And when P stops…it’s typically to the right. According to Trainer J, I tend to tip to the right. Basically it’s all my fault (when is it not?). My left ankle is the one that was broken and doesn’t have the flexibility that my right ankle does, so I’m sure that contributes somewhat to it. So I suppose that takes the list of things to work on up to….well, infinity at this point.

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So we did the RT to plank thing a few more times, trying to get us over the center. And very unlike the past few weeks, ZERO rolltop stops!

Then it was time to move on. Obviously he wasn’t going to stop at the RT if he hadn’t by now, so Trainer B pointed us towards a broken log jump with a rail on it. It wasn’t always broken, before it was just a log supported by the end joints, but apparently Trainer B walked across it and it broke (Maybe go on a diet? I’M KIDDING, TRAINER B, PLEASE DON’T BAN US), so now it looks different and P knows it.

With the wind, it’s a little hard to hear Trainer B’s WOW (Words of Wisdom), but here’s the gist:

I let P get away with basically murder. We coast with barely enough energy to jumps which lets P stop with ease. If a jump calls for a level 1 canter, P needs to be ridden at a level 3+ so that stopping isn’t so easy.

My side of it is that if he’s going to stop (which right now is commonplace) I’d rather he stop from a gentle canter than from anything faster. Which I think is valid, but at the same time, I need to change my mental game. Because P can read me like a kid’s book and by now knows that stopping is the easy way out.

Oh yeah, and be straight to the jumps. Always straight.

Then he promptly gave me the middle hoof in the other direction.

But at least we got to jump the vertical that we love so much?

Then Trainer B, because he loves to torture me keep us progressing goes over to one of the new xc jumps and says, “is this too big?”

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But I put my brave face on. Looking at the video, it’s super tiny, but let me tell you: EVERYTHING is more intimidating on a stopper.

And then put the course all together:

And called it a day. Whew!

Overall, it was a great lesson. Obvious what to work on (center of jump, more canter) but it appears we’re on the right track. And I can’t even begin to express how relieved I was that there were no rolltop stops. That was just getting RIDICULOUS.