I’m still getting used to the new barn’s schedule and it can be a bit tricky because, thanks to the rain we’ve had and then again on Saturday, the jump arena still isn’t usable. The owner finally took the jumps down, loaded them into the tractor and brought them down to the schooling arena. The schooling arena is a bit smaller than the jump arena, but has great footing and drains exceptionally well. They teach a lot of lessons there, but so far I’ve only seen group lessons, typically between 3-5 riders in each. Now with the jumps added, riding can feel a bit like this…
I like riding when there are others because then I don’t get so focused and nitpicky with Pilgrim. It’s also great steering practice. So yesterday I got there around 5:30, hopped on and headed into the arena and 10 minutes later, hopped right off. Apparently Monday’s 5:30 lesson is a beginner lesson and we were causing some confusion with the little riders on what they should be doing. I figured it was a good way to mentally imitate a horse trial and let P think he was done, and then have to go back to work.
I got back on at 6:30 and went back in while the boarder lesson was going on. These are all adults (and one teenager) and are a more advanced group. Although Pilgrim thinks they trot too much. I probably looked like a wimp, walking so much as they kept trotting around the arena.
Then they moved on to canter, so we did as well and Pilgrim would lock onto whoever was in front him and kick into turbo gear until he passed them. Because of the jumps, I couldn’t do too many circles so it was a bit of a mad house in there, thanks to us.
Then they started jumping and one of the riders had to leave so it was just us and two other riders. They were jumping this fairly tall verticle (2’6″?) covered with pine branches, and it looked so fun so I asked if I could join in. We hopped over it a few times and each way and he was awesome. I was the more hesitant one, so E (the owner and trainer) gave me some pointers and we were flying over that thing in no time. It’s always so nice to have eyes on the ground. I’m still trying to master not jumping for him, and really legging him up to jumps. He likes the security when he feels you “hugging” him with your legs and keeping a steady connection. When I lose either of those things, he loses confidence.
We ended up riding for about an hour and a half, oops. Oops because we were heading out in the AM to xc school. But good because xc schooling would be no fun with a fresh (AKA nutty)Pilgrim.
So this morning (yes, I took off work specifically to go xc schooling. Well, also for a drs apt, but that’s not important), I tacked P up again and loaded (love doing that now, it makes life so simple), and then headed back to old barn to pick up trainer PW and friend C and her horse. Pilgrim was super confused why the ramp was down as we were trying to load Juno, but his butt bar was still up and he kept banging into it then craning his head around and snorting at me.
So we loaded C’s horse and headed the 20 minutes to Kingfisher Park, which is a gorgeous new venue in Mooresville. It’s also the site of where we did our first CT back in August, and they’ve really made some improvements with their xc course. I went “schooling” back in May with a friend and there were no jumps for the pony and I. Everything was Novice and above and at that point, we were hardly able to get over ground poles. Even the water complex had been drained at the time, so we literally jumped the tiniest up bank and a small stadium vertical in the field. Since then, they’ve added 6 BN jumps, added a BN ditch and filled the water complex. My main objective was to school the water, and also school ditches and logs.
So we get to the parking lot and P unloads like a champ. Matt, who by this time knows his place, immediately takes P off to graze while I get myself situated. I bridled and we headed down to the xc field.
Taking in the view. It’s gorgeous here.
Trying to wake him up:
Then we headed for the water. This was attempt 1. He did walk all the way through it, but Matt stopped the video.
Satisfied there were no sharks in there, this was attempt 2:
We were able to canter about 3/4 of the way on another attempt. Poor guy was a wee bit tired.
Please do this at Full Gallop this Sunday. Please.
Then we headed for the ditches. At Hillcrest there was the tiniest ditch ever, but it wasn’t lined by logs and was super shallow. The smallest one they had at KFP was a BN sized one, and was about a foot deep. While Pilgrim wasn’t afraid of it, he was bit confused. I started off by walking him towards it and he promptly stuck his front leg into it like he was going to go into the ditch. Ummm, ok let’s back up there. So I backed him up, sent him into a trot and…
While I seriously need to stay BACK, especially when I’m halting him (seriously, what’s with the upper body collapse?), I couldn’t be more prouder. So I’ll post attempt #3:
Then I accepted that him jumping so calmly wasn’t a fluke and tried the other way. Note my awesome trainer jumping it first. She’s the best.
No fuss, of course. So since we conquered that in 5 minutes. So on our way to the log jump, we stopped and hopped up a little bank. Just for fun.
Then it was log-time. If you recall, at Hillcrest a stupid log got us eliminated.
This was our third attempt, Matt didn’t get the first couple recorded as he ambled over from his previous post (his sniper position, as he put it. Love being married to a Marine), so you don’t get to see me stare at the log as we approached and then have P stop and ever so carefully walk over it. I completely dropped the reins, kept my leg off and sat there, just staring at it as we approached. P never refused, which was a relief, it was me. So we did it again and sailed over. But I was still hunching at it. So you can clearly hear me telling myself to sit back over and over and over because somehow my muscles don’t remember that on their own.
Then it was time to be done with xc and head to stadium because P was soooo tired and we had gotten ALOT accomplished. So we walked through the water one more time and headed up to the jump arena.
It took forever to convince P he could canter. He was definitely tired, but I wanted to get just two jumps in, just so he could get used to switching gears from xc to stadium. We did a small 2′ vertical and then ended on jumping a 2’6″ oxer that even PW had nice things to say about (she does NOT give out compliments easily).
It was an AWESOME day and I’m so glad I have video proof that we can, in fact, jump xc. Pilgrim didn’t refuse one thing today and I hope that will give us the confidence we need to end on a number this coming Sunday.