Well over the weekend we did a couple of exciting things that I had mentioned were coming up! V & I had a lovely jump school at home on Saturday morning, before a horrendous windstorm blew in. Charms & I also flatted, but no media from that and it was a pretty boring ride overall, so this is mostly about V's adventures. And on Sunday Verge & I had our first "real" cross country school together!
V is starting to feel really confident with the 2'/2'3" stuff, which is super exciting. Of course there are still sticky moments and bumps in the road, but her natural ability and steadily increasing confidence are so much fun. She's typically not much of an over-jumper, which I actually don't mind since it means she's not typically super phased or scared of the fences, but it has made it difficult to actually determine how much scope she really has!
Pretty safe to say that she's got some springs in there I think. The oxers definitely can bring out a bit of a bigger jump from her, but I have to say that I think this was the biggest jump I've gotten out of her so far! She's still so smooth even when she jumps big like this though. I've got to get stronger to make sure I can stay with her easier nonetheless.
After our lovely, foot perfect school on Saturday, the storm blew in early with lots and lots of wind accompanied by some rain. The boys are totally used to this random Idaho weather and already had winter fuzzies quite grown in. This will be Verge's first winter not living in AZ though, so she still has a very slick, shiny summer coat going on. So I popped a sheet on for the first time of the season *sob*, and V absolutely hated it haha. Luckily she very much appreciated it during the actual rain & the cold night, but her sensitive skin does not generally appreciate me putting the blanket on.
Our Sunday plans had looked very tentative all weekend - would the storm roll out fast enough for us to school that evening? Fate was on our side though, because the storm that was supposed to potentially rain us out on Sunday never really showed up, or at least not in full force.
|Our one single XC picture|
I was a super bad blogger for this outing & literally only took one picture which is super depressing bc V was amazing. We showed up and the weather turned out to be absolute perfection. Mid-60s, sunny and a teeny light breeze. Verge got out of the trailer pretty chill until she saw all the other horses who had just finished schooling coming back, and then we had a good 5 minutes of baby horse overstimulation meltdown. It just ended up being a lot of sudden commotion out of nowhere for her, but she found her brain again pretty quickly and settled back down.
Once she settled, I threw her bridle on & climbed aboard. She was somewhat alert, but still sensible, which is one of the things I love about her in general - she's too much of a lady to be nonsensically stupid. We also were able to go out with two of the most laid back horses on the planet, so it was a great environment for her to be out and try to do some actual cross country schooling. We started out by having a nice trot around and I was able to find a new gear in her trot (which was pretty freaking cool!), apparently there is a little powerhouse stuffed into her tiny red self.
She gets extremely alert about the environment, and all the weird things sitting in the field, although she couldn't care less about the horses galloping around, toward, or away from her. After a good amount of warmup trot & canter, we popped over our first little log on the ground, and basically leapt over it with all 4 legs at once. We came around again and tried it a second time, which went substantially better and had a more normal, quiet jump. Then we walked up and down the teeny part of the bank, which took her a second to understand and remember (I have lunged her over a few of the questions prior to this outing) but once she got it she was great! That's kind of the name of her game actually - she needs to understand "why" and then she does great.
We moved on from there & trotted a couple more little logs. Again, a few started sticky, but she began to get the rhythm a little bit and I think she started to enjoy herself. Then we came to the water. This was one of my big questions for this schooling - how would she react to the water? Last time, while lunging her, it took a full hour to get her in, but once in, she had absolutely 0 problems with it at all. She came up to it this time a touch hesitant, but got in on the first try! She continued to be super brave with the water the whole rest of the schooling - trotting and cantering in and out from all directions!
After some fun playing in the water, we put together her first couple of "courses", only about 3 jumps strung together at a time to introduce her to the Intro fences (just in case we do the last schooling HT at Intro). She started getting very brave with all the logs that looked the same (just basic logs, laying on the ground), but had a few moments when introduced to a new fence. Luckily, V's version of a "moment" is fairly quietly come to a stop, sniff the fence, trot back around and pop over it like nothing happened.
She started understanding the game pretty well at this point, so I finally pointed her at the "big" Intro jump, which is a triple log stack that I definitely think is actually BN height, but it was on the last Intro course soooo we had to give it a shot. She paused and had a "moment" about this new, bigger fence again, but reliably and beautifully jumped it on the second try! Someday I'll have to get her to not feel the need to "take a peek" at all the fences, but for now I don't find it terrible or malicious, she's just trying to understand "why" and we don't quite have the relationship and trust built yet for her to just always believe I know what's up.
We then jumped the last few Intro fences and I even threw in the little BN A-frame, and I could feel her slowly getting more confident as we went. I still don't know that she understands why cross-country is fun, but she started to at least understand the goal a bit! To finish up, I felt a little brave, and maybe a little too bold, but I decided to try her over the BN ditch. Now these ditches are pretty legit- they're not just fake ditches or ones with tiny holes in the ground. It's a full BN/N spread, with a 2'+ hole dug in the ground. They're definitely not the easiest of starter ditches, and I've seen and experienced many many horses be "ditchy" with them.
V marched right up to it and stood at the edge. Not scared, just didn't want to cross it. She touched her nose to the edge of it and then came back up with a look on her face that was like "uh mom, there's a big hole there if you didn't notice? We can just walk around it instead. This seems stupid." After a couple of failed attempts approaching on our own, we asked for our friend to give us a lead, and she promptly popped right over like "oh that's all you wanted?? Easy." We did it once more with a lead just to cement the idea, and then managed to do it twice on our own without a lead! I've ridden a LOT more ditchy horses than that, so I was pretty blown away.
We have my old trainer coming out for a clinic this weekend on Fri/Sat and 1: I'm hoping to actually get media of at least some of it and 2: it will be a great experience to see what she thinks of V on XC and actually get some coaching to see if doing the schooling HT is in the cards for us or not.