Wednesday, June 24, 2015

MCTA @ Tranquility: Cross Country!

Moving on to cross country, I had just one objective on my mind: GO CLEAR. The course walk earlier in the day had left me with two general thoughts:

  • The fence height was fine, as was the general topography. A few hills here, some twisty turns there - and even our first ever A-B combo! But really, this course was very small, with most fences shared between BN and Intro. It would have been the perfect move-up course. As it was, I hoped it'd be a great course for us to FINALLY go clear and build confidence.
  • EXCEPT: The footing was stupid soggy almost everywhere. Some areas were downright dangerously slippery - especially through the woods. I was worried that Isabel would flat out object to the footing and get stuck behind my leg. My only hope was that she'd channel her inner trail goddess and actually find comfort in digging her toes into the ground - rather than the hard concrete-ish footing we've been running on at other events. 

Isabel seemed to be in a great place tho - she had handled the nasty dressage footing with aplomb, and was quiet on the trailer while I walked my courses. So I was optimistic.
Plus, the organizers ultimately decided NOT to time cross country due to the footing conditions. I heartily agreed with this, and had identified 2 areas on course where I would absolutely be walking, and quite a few others we would likely trot.
Fence 1 was a small roll top Isabel and I jumped at our last schooling outing. You can also get a clear sense of how inviting this course was just from these three fences: Intro on left, Novice on right, BN in the middle. Intro might be the only maxed out fence. 
This was obviously just fine for Izzy too. We didn't even bother with more warm up fences - she had been so excellent for stadium and the xc steward said I could start whenever, so we just headed straight out. 
After fence 1 we skipped through a break in the fence to get into the front field that we had schooled through last time. The footing started to get questionable pretty quickly and I was very careful on my walk to test out different potential lines to see which was the driest. It didn't matter tho - right away on our ride Isabel was tuned in and cantering forward - not paying the least bit of attention to the ground. So I started to relax and enjoy it pretty much immediately, while still not taking any chances for another lattice-type stop to happen. 
So I rode fairly strongly to all the jumps in this section - tho as you can see fence 2 was another cake walk.
Fence 3 was the pheasant feeder we had jumped while schooling, and Isabel was again fine. This is our fourth time jumping a feeder (Loch Moy, Waredaca, and this same feeder twice now) and Isabel has never even looked. That could change when they get bigger... But so far it seems like she's got the answer for them.
I loved this little train! LOVED IT!!! This was also the first of the 'option' fences - there were quite a few on course, and it looks like Intro jumped this fence the other direction. I was very slightly worried about that metal tank being spooky... but not really. 
Regardless, the plan was to jump the lowest middle section: the logs. Isabel locked on and jumped fine. We could have jumped any section, honestly. Mare was HUNTING the fences!!!
After the train we looped back around to cut through the treeline - and the above photo is looking backwards to the entry. So we came down hill toward the camera. We walked this section haha. I wasn't worried about it being spooky - but why risk it with slippery footing?
Plus we had plenty of room to get back up to pace for the quick left turn to a small log. Isabel ZOOMED back into canter and paid zero attention to the mud sucking at her feet.
Then a swooping right turn to fence 6 - perhaps our first true maxed out fence. I did not care for the footing on approach to this fence AT ALL - but Isabel was fine. I just tried to ride just like we did in stadium: kicking on and keeping Isabel's shoulders UP and in front of me. The video catches us right after this fence as we looped right again for 7.
Fence 7, the wavy bridge, was another option fence - this time shared with both Intro AND Novice. Not sure why they didn't flag each element separately... esp as I saw Novice riders taking the lowest middle section during my course walk... but I certainly wasn't going to argue.
And naturally I chose the low section too. Part of me argued that I should be getting mileage at the full size fences (this argument came up repeatedly, esp at later fences...) - but really my biggest goal was going clear. So... when available I took the easy options. Isabel was quite nice for this fence, and it's visible (from a distance) on the video.
Same story for Fence 8. We've jumped that little bench on the right a couple times now: twice at Jenny Camp and once schooling. Again, part of me thought I should try the green bench... But I opted to play it safe. The approach to this fence came steeply down a hill that I planned to trot (visible on video) anyway, and while there was plenty of space to re-develop our canter, you can see the ground was pretty torn up already. So little bench it was. And again Isabel was perfect.
Then we cantered slowly toward the water complex, which wasn't on course. Just behind it was a small path into the woods that I'd never really noticed while schooling. In fact I almost missed it on the course walk too bc the flags weren't exactly obvious haha. This path was SLICK tho - and I planned to walk it, only going faster if Isabel offered. Tho in a move that will shock exactly nobody - Isabel DID offer to go faster... so we actually cantered and trotted anyway.
Sorry this is so blurry - it's another option fence: half log on the left, muck buckets on the right. You may recognize the muck buckets from our schooling videos. I think we pretty much jumped dead center - Isabel didn't care in the slightest about the ground or the buckets.
And speaking of the ground.... this is what it looked like. SLICK. They actually ended up taking this wooded section out of the Intro course bc it was so sketchy. Izzy did well tho - some slipping here and there but she was practically oblivious to it. 
And then I almost fell off at fence 10 haha. Again we jumped almost dead center, tho Izzy preferred the tires. This was maybe the one jump on course where I let her get flat and low at the poll, and I simply didn't decide on a distance so she chose for me. She made a good choice... but almost unseated me anyway. While sliding way over to the left I thought -- 'nope nope, not done yet, sit your ass back down Emma!' ... and I sat back down, got my stirrup back and cantered off to 11.
Fences 11 and 12 were actually in this REALLY pretty little round clearing that I never even knew was up there. On any other day it would have been really  nice to hang out in here jumping all the many logs, but on this day it was treacherous. 
Izzy got a great distance to 11 - helped in no small part by the fact that I decided to participate again after the near miss at 10.  We came to a trot afterwards tho for the sharp left turn down hill to 12.
Fence 12 was a bit of a doozy bc of the terrain and footing. Small log on a small down hill... but the footing was BAD, even with stone dust laid down in front of and after the jump... Izzy jumped well and with power - but not too huge, thank god, plus I stayed in the back seat anyway. She landed fine - but the quick left turn afterwards left her spinning tires in back. Luckily she didn't go all the way down - and in fact didn't even really seem to notice she was slipping and sliding at all - so we actually lost very little impulsion.
Tho we continued to slip and slide in an otherwise lovely canter out of the woods and back onto (relatively) solid ground.
To our first ever A-B combo!!!!! Starting out with this same small bench again, then 60' to the faux ditch.
Isabel NAILED the bench and powered down the line in a perfect 4 strides and was over the faux ditch in the blink of an eye. Awesome mare is awesome! Then we had a bit of a gallop following the little lane for a while. I steered Isabel as close to the lane as possible, since the ground was significantly better there and we just powered along on a loopy rein. It was right about here that I started to think we were actually gonna go CLEAR!!
Which meant that I again played it safe to the option fence 14. The turn was a little wonky past some weird looking stuff on an odd angle, complete with crossing the road and more questionable footing. I just didn't want to blow it. Obvi Isabel would have been fine either way, but I have no regrets with taking the small pipe.
Then we kinda skirted around this soggy chewed up hill side to get to 15 - that white house in the fence line. In my course walk I was really unsure how to handle this hill. Walk? Trot? Canter? A novice rider came through on a canter tho and looked quite safe and stable about it, so I decided to let Isabel pick her pace. She chose to canter, obvi haha. And made very easy work of it. 
And our final fence was another option. Honestly, during my walk I couldn't decide which to jump. If there wasn't that post separating the two, the hunting panel would have been my choice... but I was hesitant to try a skinny. When it was all said and done tho, we did the house. It's honestly well within Isabel's comfort zone - and it only looked big here bc the rest of the course was so much smaller. But Izzy was fine. I rode REALLY strongly tho - talking the whole time like 'c'mon Izzy let's DO IT!!!!' and we did!!!!
Then we GALLOPED up the hill through the finish lines haha with me squealing and yelling and generally carrying on that Isabel is the best horse in the whole world. And yes it's on video lol.



So there ya have it folks! Isabel and I have officially gone clear through a BN cross country course - woo hoo! Isabel felt phenomenal through the whole ride too - really enjoying it and hunting down the fences - but also still supremely rideable. I'm hoping this outing was just what we needed - both of us - for continued success. 

Then we stuck around for another 2 hours waiting for scores (they were SERIOUSLY short on volunteers so nothing ran very quickly....). I was pleasantly surprised to see we moved up on the leader board despite the rail in stadium. Obviously I don't revel in anyone else having a bad day or getting eliminated (I've been there and it sucks), and I would have been equally happy with 6th place (or higher)... but this little pink ribbon is just sooo pretty :D


lovely pink rosette for finishing 5th - plus a smaller (but equally pretty) green rosette for placing 6th in dressage

35 comments:

  1. Congrats! Great job at handling the tricky footing!

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    1. thank you! i was super impressed with how nonchalant izzy was about the footing - perhaps all the trail riding is paying off!

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  2. Congrats! High options next time. ;) Love that wavy bridge.

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    1. thanks - and you're so right about the high options haha, esp bc really none of them were particularly challenging (except maybe that green bench lol) ... next time! for now i'm just gonna glory in our clear round :)

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  3. Wow congrats on such a good placing in such conditions!

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    1. thanks! the horse really pulled through for me :D

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  4. Great conservative ride!! Next time - high options!! And you are SO right about that being the perfect move-up course, I wish I would have done that one with you!

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    1. thanks - conservative is actually the perfect word for it. and yes,... high options next time for sure. i wish i had known the course would be so inviting - it might have made it easier to get other ppl (like you!) to come with me! it's cool tho. by the time we eventually make it to the same show you and Dino will be confirmed at BN anyway :D !!!!!

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  5. I'm telling you right now, colored, horse-eating muckbuckets in the woods would be a hell no for Twister. I would have gotten launched and left in the trees lol

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    1. haha you might be surprised - i've seen quite a few horses jump those buckets while schooling and only one has ever stopped - a horse who is notoriously looky anyway. but if you're worried it's an easy enough jump to build at home :)

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  6. This post makes me slightly want to go jump something solid in a field...I miss jumping! Stampede get your act together!
    Either way, I enjoy blog posts of others doing cool stuff with cool ponies. Izzy is such a good girl!

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    1. c'mon Stampede!!!! jumping solid stuff in the field really is it's own kind of liberation :) and yes - Izzy is the best good girl ever!

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  7. I'm so impressed! I am such a wimp - several of those jumps look absolutely terrifying to me. But you and Izzy were amazing! Awesome mare IS awesome!!

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    1. haha thanks! i think it's a funny thing about xc: my eye has adjusted to the size way quicker than i could have imagined. probably bc they're so easy for the horses - my trainer really believes horses have an easier time reading these solid jumps than rails in the arena

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  8. I love your course walks! They always make me want to get out on cross country again one day. Congrats on a great show!

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    1. thanks!!! i think you'll have to take TC out on cross country - he obviously loved playing around on it briefly :D

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    2. Agreed! Your course walks make me kind of almost want to try cross country! (I read a lot of eventing blogs bc I think y'all are the ballsiest riders of all. Seriously.) I love how you present the jumps and then describe how you approached each one while riding. Makes it feel like one is riding with you. :D

      Great job with managing some tricky footing and having fun out there. And big congrats on your placings!!

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    3. i'm glad you like the course walks! i actually really enjoy writing them since it's sorta like reliving the memory haha. and you should DEFINITELY try cross country - i mean, your mare jumps 10' banks, obvi she'd be a beast :D

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  9. You guys are awesome! Congrats on the move up in placing and shiny ribbon. Also--though I love the name, Fraidycat doesn't really describe you two anymore :)

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    1. haha thanks!! i'm definitely feeling braver than i have in years -- tho obvi still not brave enough to take the high options... we're getting better tho!

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  10. Woohoo! Congratulations on an awesome cross country round despite the rough footing! You look great in the video.

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    1. thank you!! the footing was definitely not what i wanted - but it feels really really good knowing isabel can handle it easily!

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  11. CONGRATS!!! That looks like so much fun and big high five for finally going clear! It's such an amazing feeling. :-)

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    1. thank you!!!! i am so ridiculously deliriously happy to have finally gone clear at bn :D

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  12. What a fun and creative course! Way to go.

    So my impression of some of those fences in the forest-y area is that even though they have scary stuff in them (muck buckets, tires) there isn't really a run-out option because there is forest on either side. Does it actually work like that? On the one hand that is SUPER appealing to me because I'm far more worried about run outs than stops (esp at this low level I know I can get my pony over these things from a standstill) but maybe it's an illusion? As you can imagine we don't have much forested XC schooling in California...

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    1. thanks - it was a lot of fun! and re: the run out option - you're right. one of those wooded fences really didn't have that option (unless the horse decided to go bush whacking). the other did, it just wasn't clear in the picture. but - of course fence 15 was literally in the fence line... so i have no clue what a rider would do if they got eliminated there.... i guess just ride the long way back through the course?

      but honestly - you may be worried about run outs, but i'm not at all for your sake. you and Murray are gonna KILL IT at your event :D

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  13. Congrats!!! Great job on getting through a nice long course. All that terrain and the BN half-coffin is no joke!

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    1. thanks!!! i was pretty pleased with a lot of things about this course - esp how good she felt through that combo!

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  14. Congrats!!!!! I love that Izzy is becoming such an XC machine! That is so cool to see :) You guys looked awesome!

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    1. and no shame in not taking the higher options - I would have done the same thing! Save the big ones for schooling outside the competitions!

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    2. thanks!! i love that she's such a machine now too. i think she really understands what we're doing out there and likes it - and she's actually starting to hunt the jumps - it's great! the high options will come in time but for now we know we can go clear!

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  15. Congratulations on a FANTASTIC ride!!!! Sounds like Iz was totally on her game and so were you!! Nothing better than that :)

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    1. thanks! it was a great feeling of being on the same page. in the past i've sorta intentionally gone into cruise control thinking she'd be happier if i left her alone... but then we'd run into problems. but i think actually staying present with her helped lend even more confidence :)

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