St. Augustine Pony Club opened their course for xc schooling for the next few Sunday’s. It was a gorgeous day so I took Letterman, Burgiss and another horse along.
I started out with Burgiss and I was supposed to school with my mom but she was running late. Burgiss is always really quiet and he walked out to the xc field very nicely leaving his two buddies who were still on the trailer. I would say it wasn’t our best ride simply because he was distracted. He didn’t do anything wrong but his focus wasn’t as good as I think it could be. I thought he could have been a bit more relaxed over top of the jump but instead he was jumping them really big again. I’m not going to worry about it though because it’s simply an issue of mileage at this point. We were just getting going when somebody took a bad fall and all the emergency vehicles started to come in. I was pretty much finished anyway and I jumped a little mini-course and then headed back in right as the helicopter landed in the middle of the xc field. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Burgiss had one of those brains that I truly appreciate. It was a windy day, he was away from his buddies, lots of stuff to see and helicopters/emergency vehicles all around and he was just ho-hum about it all.
Letterman was next up and although he has done some paperchasing and hunting this was a new experience. I think one of the big differences at a xc schooling is that you have horses going every direction at different speeds and there is just so much to process for horses. When you are paper chasing or hunting you have a buddy for them to rely on but xc schooling they have to be a bit more independent.
We went out with my mom on her 3yr (the chestnut in the video I will post) and her guy was a bit up. I was basically keeping him company for a bit and although Letterman was pretty high on life he was keeping himself together. You can see that he basically has his tail over his back a few times and he was pretty impressed with the atmosphere but he never does anything wrong! My mom almost ran into him and then flew right by him and he was quite good about it all. That is why I love him so much!
I think when horses are geared up it’s easy to make things go wrong. I am a believer in just letting them go forward. I was helping my mom with her guy and trying to focus on Letterman at the same time but the theme was just go forward. Don’t worry about the head because you don’t want to pick a fight or restrict them until they do relax. I like to just get up out of the tack and have a good canter letting them stretch their backs and get all the silly out without pulling on them. I have my hand in my neckstrap almost all the time at first just as a bit of an anchor.
Letterman is pretty nice to ride because he really listens even when he is excited. You can half halt and soften him to help him focus. He always is trying to be right there under me and I appreciate that! I do a lot of circles, figure eights and transitions to get him zoned in on what we are doing. He settled in really nice as we got going.
I only jumped a few fences because I really didn’t want to overwhelm him. It’s important to make it short and sweet the first few times so that they can process it all. Just because you can go out and jump everything doesn’t mean you should! He is still learning his footwork but I was happy with how confident he felt.
Here is a little video of him from the warmup. You can see he is pretty excited but working very hard to behave himself 🙂
I lunged the other horse and he was really good. He was just there to see the sights. I asked about the rider who got hurt and they said she was going to be okay. We were all glad to hear that the helicopter was mostly for precaution.
I had a nice ride on Letterman and Burgiss last night. In the middle of cantering Burgiss down the long side of the ring, the lights suddenly went out and I found myself in pitch black. Burgiss didn’t seem to skip a beat but I was hollering for Kurt to come and help me 🙂 Never a dull moment on the farm!