Sequence of events XC schooling with P: Great, fantastic, bad, super bad, super-awful bad, good, great, fantastic, phenomenal.
On Sunday Trainer B took the team XC schooling at Windridge. I’ve been there a few times before and always had a good time. Windridge was the first HT we won:
It was the site of our first hunter pace, and even though P was ridiculous about stream crossings, I still had fun with Sara.
It was also the first place we schooled some real BN fences. Bette can attest that I thought this BN cabin was way too big and wide to jump. My, how times have changed.
I got there just as Trainer B was getting the Starter/BN group going, so left P standing on the trailer to go watch. And, though I had been determined not to look beforehand, I caught glimpses of a few Novice jumps from the back of the golf cart.
The few that I saw looked enormous. Jumps 1, 2, 3, and 5 were just, well, intimidating.
Our Novice group was small: just myself, Trainer B on his OTTB, and another client. We started at jump 1, and P took one look at the jump and….
I know. I was as surprised as anyone else.
Then we went to jump 2. Windridge’s #2’s have never been kind to us. He had repeated stops at the starter one last year while schooling, and when we were there for BN earlier this year he peeked hard at it. The Novice one was next to the Starter one, so looked even more enormous. We started with the BN one and then circled back for the Novice.
He definitely didn’t give any indication he noticed the height difference.
So that was encouraging, and I was confident that it was going to be a good day. Trainer B remarked after jump 2 that P was ready for Prelim.
Everyone started with BN #3 and P sailed over it. It wasn’t so long ago that jump would’ve given me great pause, but I didn’t think anything of it (🙌).
Now, the Novice jump 3 was spooky, ok, fine. He wasn’t the only horse to stop at it, so it wasn’t exactly surprising.
A strong reprimand with the whip and spurs, and he popped over with no further issue. We ended up jumping that jump successfully at least 8 times, so fingers crossed next time he remembers there are no goblins hiding in it.
Then Super Awful Terrible P came out. We were supposed to jump 3, then head down to 4, which was a red rolltop. Yes, it’s Novice size, but it’s plain and boring. So we jump 3, and halfway across the field I feel P get wiggly, so I put my leg on and then right before the jump he does this incredible spin and TAKES.OFF.
I had one stirrup and honestly have zero idea how I stayed on galloping down the hill and back up. I thought for sure my DNA would be scattered among the Windridge fields forever. He’s spooked many a time in our life together, but he’s never just kept going like that.
So Trainer B comes up, gives me a little pep talk, and I head back to 3 again to re-attempt the line. This time P gets closer to 4, then spins even MORE violently and my right stirrup goes flying completely off my saddle. I had the time to think, “I’ve got to get off my horse to get the stirrup anyway,” and “I really don’t want to sit through another bolt,” and while it wasn’t exactly a dismount, it wasn’t a fall, either. It was more like a… surrender, if you will. I landed in a squat, still holding the reins, and was tempted for a split second to just let them go and hope P disappeared over the horizon, preferably forever.
Then Trainer B had mercy on me and asked if I wanted him to get on. YES, PLEASE.
You’d think by now he’d know that.
I walked back to 3 thinking, “We haven’t even gotten over 4, and 5 is absolutely humongous.” Honestly I felt a little defeated. He’d just cruised around CHP’s Novice (which is not a soft course by any means) and a little red rolltop is causing this many issues?
But off I went.
So that was a big win for me.
We did that a few times, then headed to a 2 stride. Oh, goody. My favorite.
But all the 2 stride practice at home and at Trainer B’s has paid off.
Then we wandered over to the water, which P is always fine with. So we put together another mini course: rolltop to the water, down the hill and a left turn to a u-shaped ramp, immediate right up the bank, right turn down the hill, then up the hill to a log. I had no idea what the log looked like, but Trainer B said it was at the top of the hill and to look for white numbers.
So my first glimpse of it was as we were galloping up to it.
Helmet cam view:
We went and practiced the up/down bank a few times, with no issues. Then the Novice group was done for the day.
So P & I thought. Muahaha.
On the walk back to the trailers, I think Trainer B could sense my disappointment. Even though most of it was great, I was still stuck on how terribly awful he had been for no reason. So he asked if I wanted to stay on and do some more for the next session, which was him on his own horse he’s moving up to Prelim and one of their working students who is going Training. P seemed just fine, so I said yes.
We got a 40 minute break or so, while the horses who’d just finished got taken care of and the 2 going out got tacked up. Then the 3 of us headed (back) to the start box, and I expected some serious fussiness from P since I figured he’d assumed he was done.
But he was great, and we ended up doing 1, 2, and 3. Then found some new Novice jumps we hadn’t jumped before, and strung together a longer course of 4, 5, 6 (a log coop), 7 AB, 8 (a bench), 9, and the water.
Let me tell you about this bench.
I’ve seen this bench a bunch of times the various times I’ve been to Windridge. It’s usually a jump close to the water, but when we got there on Sunday, it was nowhere to be found. And I was relieved. See, that jump is one of the reasons I thought Novice would always be out of reach for us. It doesn’t look like much in the picture (they never do), but whenever talk about Novice would come up, that jump (and 2 others) would pop into my head and I’d involuntarily shudder.
So here I am, thinking it’s no longer part of the course, since we hadn’t seen it earlier. So when Trainer B said to continue straight after the 2 stride and look for 8, imagine my face when we were galloping straight at 8 and I realized it was THE BENCH.
So so so so sadly, Cambox died and I have zero footage of it. Right now that’s my biggest regret in life (#firstworldproblems). But the entire mini-course was perfect, including the bench- you’ll have to take my word for it.
Then we moved to a whole different field that we hadn’t previously gone to and there was a jump there that was Novice/Training.
And so I got a good gallop going, and he didn’t even look at the fence.
At that point, I was content to stop. But as we wandered further, Trainer B happened upon a half coffin then 3 strides to the closest thing to a trakehner P has ever seen. And he was all, “Go back there and ride like hell at it.”
And I was all,
We did it a few more times until I stopped grabbing his face after the ditch and Trainer B declared it perfect.