(the Novice cabin)
(the beginner novice cabin I was so scared of last year)
The best part of our weekend? I FINALLY got some video from Calimar, woo hoo! Gotten some great pics, but not any video, so super excited about that. I had some major nerves going on. It worked out that I jetted up to Calimar after lessons on Saturday in my car, and Joyce hauled up Tiki, Sparky, and Guilder. We had our own little Spotted Valley Stables crew along with one additional person:) I made it there about 1:45. Our session was at 3, so I got to watch for a bit. My nerves went nuts when a particular horse had HUGE issues over the big ditch. He did great over the little one, but was having NONE of the big ditch. Poor rider had to get off and try to longe him over it for their entire 2 hour session. He never did get it:(
Horses arrived right at 2:15, and I unloaded mine relieved to find him relatively sweat free, but alas COVERED in dirt! Agh! Figures. And of course my brush box was at home in my trailer. Oh well. Used a borrowed hard brush to knock off as much dirt as possible, inspected his cut (which was much less warm than before), and determined he was good to go. Y'all have to understand; my horse swells up and has heat in a FLY bite. He is the epitome of "sensitive chestnut". I have learned what *is* serious, and what *looks* serious. I had purposely left my paddock boots/half chaps at home so I wouldn't be tempted to wear them. Tall boots for clinic lessons! One thing I DID do differently ... I slathered "Saddle Tite" all over the inside of my boots and on the flap of my saddle. My boss gave me some for Christmas last year, and I have yet to use it. I figured xc schooling for the first time since ... May? was the perfect time to use it!
Flat in the stadium ring felt great. Mary Bess had us do a little w/t/c on our own. Nothing hard. Last time, we also practiced going from canter to gallop to canter, working on having a "bouncy" canter, but nothing like that this time. Cantered into a crossrail, and I think it took Tiki by surprise. I had been taking him over poles, and he was great over those, so I think the jump was like "HUH?" We looked like a fool over it, oh well. MB has us go again, and he jumped it fine. She was being super picky about my position, (yay!), and had me go one more time. Our "real" warm up was vertical (from the crossrail), sweeping right turn to a red/white oxer, sweeping right turn to barrels lying down. He jumped everything great, and MB admonished me to make sure I got him straight. I had felt straight, so I was a little puzzled by her comment, but I filed it away.
Our warm up was the same as last year; lincoln logs out of the arena, straight ahead to a hanging log, straight ahead to 'funky' log. He jumped the logs perfect, the hanging log a little wonky, and the 'funky' log perfect. MB wanted me to SLOW DOWN (gee, I've never heard THAT one before!) and keep my leg on slowly, then ride him down to the base. I tend either to have NO leg, or I tend to chase him. Worked on sitting back, sitting lightly, and keeping leg on to the base. Moved on to the ditches, joy. Little one was the best he's ever done. Back and forth over that, then back and forth over big one. Wow, he was PERFECT! I chanted to myself, "Sit up, eyes up, DON'T LOOK AT THE DITCH, and cluck ... stick at the ready". All that feedback worked because he hopped over easy as you please:) Strung together big ditch, new log pile. Then turn around, log pile, big ditch, hanging log 2 stride combo. I was a little unsure as to ride it in a 2 or a 3. Kyle did it in 3, and Guilder is much bigger than Tiki. We USUALLY get 3, but the last time I did it, he surprised me by almost doing a 2. Decided to ride it as it was meant to be ridden. Ditch was perfect, and I rode the log pile great. He'd never seen it before, and I sat back, locked in my leg, and rode right to the base. Turned it around, and he was a little off in the distance to it, but it was still fine, to the ditch a little awkwardly but clear, then I galloped over the 2. Again, MB admonished me to get straight and slow down, and I realized by straight, I was slightly angling the jumps. I've gotten so used to jumping our jumps at home on an angle, I wasn't squaring up his shoulders to the jump, and it's really important to help your horse read a ditch correctly by bringing them in square. One more time, and I nailed it ... and went slow, and he STILL got the 2, good Muffin:)
Next was tiny bank up, tiny bank down, hanging log, big bank up, train, stop. Train, big bank down, new log cradle jump, left turn to corner. Yup, the corner! Then up and around to an actual log drop off the tiny bank. I was nervous, but I swallowed it and went on. Tiny banks were perfect. Hanging log right out of stride. Big bank easy as pie, train he never looked at. Train again and he was excellent, big bank down (easiest it's ever been), log cradle (was a little nervous) he was slow off the ground, but no hesitation, to the corner. A stop at the corner, but it was a question he'd never been asked. He willingly touched his nose to it, and then I came again. He made it over this time well; still slow off ground, but honest this time. Up and around to log drop, and I'd swear I was jumping off the end of the universe! She had me do train, big bank down, log cradle, corner one more time, and they ALL felt amazing. I felt like I was really riding well, thank goodness. The big bank and the corner are Training questions. Don't know about the new jumps; either BN or N I'm sure.
Finally to the water. He trotted in with no hesitation whatsoever. Our task was little bank in, little bank out, canter in ramp, then out over a vertical. Left turn to a triple log coop, to the BN cabin next to the water wheel, left turn to the N cabin, then right hand turn to the big Training level drop into the water. Banks were good, coop perfect, BN cabin not a look or stutter, novice cabin rode GREAT. Then at the T drop into the water he dumped me. Yup. 3 years and I've never actually fallen off my horse at ALL, so this was the first time. I was expecting a stop, I was NOT expecting a stop and his head to completely disappear. Almost landed on my feet, so no biggie. Got back on, then went to medium bank in. He was NOT going. Got his feet wet again, and good. Medium bank again and I had to "beat" him in with my stick and my leg. Once he got in, took him down the medium bank about 5 times, then tried the big one again. Again, he was stopping and shutting down. I was exhausted. I had no leg left. Purposely had left off my spurs, and I was wishing I had them. Did medium bank in again, then turn to big one, and another stop. MB gave me one more try, then she was going to get on. Hit him again behind my leg, turned, and in he went! Woo Hoo! We were done. Truth be told, I was a little scared of a HUGE leap into the water, so I'm not sure I was 100% on asking him to go in. 98% for sure, but I was a little scared. I am SO proud of him!
Well, anyone that has gotten to the end of this novel deserves a medal. I had a GREAT time. I feel like I rode really well, my horse has grown up SO much, and we accomplished more than I had hoped. I feel very prepared for my planned BN event in Aiken in Feb. Going to shoot for Full Gallop, I think. So long as Squeaky and I make it around xc clear, it will be our last BN outing. I feel like most of what we worked on yesterday was N/T, and that makes me really happy. MB had lots of good things to say, and I think I followed directions well and did a good job. I will post video on a separate blog. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the upcoming week!