Monday, August 24, 2015

xc schooling + contest winner!

Lots to catch up on right now (like our show yesterday!!) - but this post is dedicated to our cross country lesson earlier last week and announcing FCE's One Year giveaway winner.

Let's start with the lesson, which we moved to the cross country field in preparation for our upcoming events and to test how well I'm internalizing our lessons.

We went to An Otherwise Perfect Farm - apparently one of Dan's favorite places to school, tho I had never been before. It's easy to see why it's so popular tho. We primarily stayed in one HUGE field set on a large hillside - with jumps and combinations set out everywhere in arrangements for practicing anything you might desire to practice.

jumps errywhere!
We warmed up by trotting sweeping circles as if we were in the arena. Balanced, connected, and horse in front of leg. Then we cantered/galloped one at a time - with the intention of using the whole field and testing the 'whoa' and 'go' in the canter. Move up to hand gallop; slow down to show jumping speed. How quickly can you do either? Naturally our bigger challenge was the smaller more collected canter (no shock there), since the 'go' button already works well.

He also had us try for a lead change while galloping. Apparently it's easier when they go faster? Idk. I opted to try a left-to-right change, since Izzy will do those automatically sometimes. And whadya know, she did it! Even so, tho, I still did simple changes from right to left throughout the schooling when circumstances called for balance and organization...

bn roll tops on a slightly angled line
And onto those circumstances. Dan started us off immediately with course work. Our warm up course began with an innocuous log on the ground, then a small rail fence, moving on to two logs set 4 strides apart, then bending around to two big red BN roll tops set at 3 strides, finishing back up over a coop. We mostly got this done pretty well, tho we hit the coop at an ugly chip stride and Dan wanted me working harder to put Isabel together.

Then course 1 started with reversing the warm up course - the coop going to the line of BN red roll tops, then turning down to the bottom of the field to catch two novice roll tops in a balanced 6 strides (tho I did 5.5), then allllll the way back up the hill to a one stride in-and-out over two logs.

novice roll tops
I thought Isabel was jumping quite well - and that maybe we could have gone for the 5 strides down the novice line. But Dan was adamant: he wanted 6 strides there and wanted Isabel more collected.

this in-and-out rode well in both directions
All the related lines over short distances was pretty interesting to work on - since that's not something I've done much in xc practice. I guess it helps keep the horse sharp and serves as an obvious litmus test for whether I've allowed Isabel to get strung out?


Next we turned it around again - starting with the in-and-out logs then cantering alllllll the way down the hill toward the novice roll tops. I asked Dan if I should go for the 5 this time, esp given the downhill approach, and he again said to do the 6. He warned that getting strung out and overly long-strided on a downhill approach was a recipe for disaster, and that I needed to just focus on the canter (as always).

Well, I still kinda barely fit in the 6, tho it was better than the first time. Then we curved up left to catch a bench on the way uphill then continue all the way up to jump the big corner. What a thrilling feeling when Isabel jumped both beautifully!

the corner!!
We went back to do the exact course again, this time adding one more bench to the mix. So: starting with the in-and-out logs, then the novice roll tops in 6 (we finally fit the 6 in nicely this time!!), then the line of benches at an unrelated distance, then the corner again.

Dan wanted us being very careful to not get strung out going up hill too - saying that it's actually easier to lose your canter going up hill vs down hill. I tried to really keep everything super organized and felt like this was our best course of the bunch - everything came up roses (especially the benches!!) .... right up until the very end where we biffed the corner big time and I almost ate it.

big wide bench on an uphill approach
It took me a while (of watching the video on repeat) to figure out exactly what happened. Dan said it looked like I got a little deep to the corner - but I had actually really like the distance and thought we were locked on. So it seriously concerned me that a distance that looked spot-on to me could actually be so very wrong.

But upon reflection, I think it boiled down to our canter (as always) and a little complacency on my part. We had just nailed 6 fences that are all challenging for us in their own right, and I kinda forgot that it wasn't easy - that just bc you jumped 6 with no problem doesn't mean that the 7th won't send you ass over teakettle. Oops.

evidence of Isabel making two of those six fences look easy
There was a long stretch of uphill canter after the second bench heading straight to the spot we had been finishing on for every course. And we had a somewhat blind turn to the corner. You'll see on the video that Isabel is practically asleep on her feet as we make the turn past the chevrons to the corner (watch her ears). Totally zoned out, just cantering. 

She locked on to the corner about four strides out, but I don't think she ever really read it right and I never pulled the canter together enough. So she knocked it hard enough to pop me out of the tack and up onto her neck. Thank god she's a saint and kept her neck up while I wiggled back into the saddle!

(I did you the service of editing out the 1:30 minutes of lecture that mistake at the corner earned me.... possibly the most words i've ever heard dan string together in a row....)

We went back and fixed the corner, then moved on to other things. Namely - the holy trinity of eventing: ditches, banks and water. Isabel and I were both pretty gassed at this point so things got a touch sloppy (did I mention it was hot out?? bc it was REALLY hot!). But we made it work.

baby ditches still require attention and careful riding
Some trotting back and forth over the ditch was uneventful, then we cantered around the banks a couple times. Izzy asked if she could please just go *around* the up bank the first time, but dutifully climbed up anyway when I said so, and just kinda walked across the top before dropping back down the other side to canter back over the ditch to a BN roll top.

Our other lesson mate tied the trakehner on the far left of the pic above into this course instead of the ditch.... but I declined. Sure, it's more of a rider frightener than anything else... but I just didn't quite feel up to it. One close call per schooling is enough for me. It felt a little bit like a cop out, but Dan agreed that I shouldn't be jumping anything that makes me worry about crashing. So we'll save trakehners for another day.

fun irish banks!
Instead I just turned around the same course to go from roll top to ditch then back to the banks, and this time I actually got us cantering well enough to jump them the way they are designed to be jumped, with 3 strides across the top before hopping back down again. Good mare was so good. Definitely tired tho!

log out of the water (note the splashes all around us)
We finished up with the water, in which Izzy splashed and slurped around for a bit, conveniently cooling off anyone in her near vicinity haha. This part was kept super simple - just trotting and cantering in and out over some small logs.

Dan was especially clear here that I should not be worrying about distances. The logs were small enough that it was more important that I pay attention to our canter, keep the mare in front of my leg, and stay in the back seat with my legs on while Isabel sorts herself out.


Following that, we were DONE. FINISHED. OUT OF GAS. Haha. Isabel is such a good girl - but I think the heat and hills took a bit out of her, and the near miss at the corner took a bit out of me.

It was a great lesson tho - really eye opening about a lot of things. I absolutely 100% can NOT get complacent on course. As Isabel gets tired she WILL lose energy and get strung out, and it will take a lot more effort to put her together again. But it's imperative that I do so, lest we risk actually hanging a leg.

Dan also suggested wearing spurs, since it becomes increasingly difficult to get Isabel in front of my leg as the ride progresses. Some of this will get easier with improved fitness, but in the meantime I should consider spurs an 'insurance policy.'

*****

Phew.... writing that all out kinda made me tired all over again haha. BUT - we're not finished yet!! We have a contest winner to announce!!!

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my 'One Year' post - it was really wonderful reading all about why you like this blog and choose to follow along!

And, the winner of 'Fraidy Cat Eventing's $25 gift card to SmartPak is.... *drum roll please*: Karen from Bay with Chrome!

Congrats and I will be in touch!

29 comments:

  1. Wow, that really is quite the farm! Looks like everything you could ever want in a schooling facility and looks like great practice. Those banks looks like a blast!

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    1. it definitely rocketed to the top of my list of favorite places to school. so many options!! hopefully we'll make it back a few more times this year :D

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  2. Um, I want to ride there! That looks like a blast! With so man options. I am so jealous you got to jump a corner too, even if there was some iffy-ness to it at one point. What a productive and fun lesson. Great riding!

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    1. lol it caught me a little off guard when he sent me to the corner... but the first time was awesome! second time... not so much. but the important thing is we fixed it and hopefully learned from it lol

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  3. Congrats to the winner and all those jumps look like so much fun!

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    1. soooo much fun! you should really give it a try sometime ;)

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  4. That looks like fun! Love all the pictures.

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    1. thanks! i kinda miss not having actually pictures of *us*, but the helmet cam video stills work well enough instead

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  5. I love the helmet cam videos, they made me smile! That bench is scary looking (to me)... the flatter and wider a jump, the more I eek! Banks and water were my favorites!

    Congrats on a good school!

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    1. yay glad you liked the videos! and that bench was definitely intense. i didn't really realize how wide it was until we were jumping it... but isabel never questioned it or looked twice or anything. jumped it like she's done it a million times before!

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  6. hmm yeaahh... the bench does not look inviting.... lol

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    1. it was certainly a lot to look at.... izzy got a great read on it tho so that was cool haha

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  7. OMG yay!! Thank you so much! That does look like a really fun place to school xc--very pretty with lots of variety in the jumps. Looks like you had a really productive day there!

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    1. yay - winner winner chicken dinner! lol but yea what a fun schooling day, i defintiely want to go back to that venue!

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  8. Glad the corner was a near miss instead of a miss. She looks so cute and most of your distances were awesome :)

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    1. ugh seriously. it doesn't look like much in the footage but it was pretty hairy for a moment there! otherwise tho the ride was pretty much great

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  9. Exciting! I'm happy you had a nice schooling day, and that you didn't come off. That place looks like a really great place to school xc.

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    1. thanks - it really was a wonderful location, so much variety!

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  10. Congrats Karen! I love the helmet cams videos :) They make me nervous because I'm a big baby :P

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    1. yay glad you like the videos! and yea these jumps were a touch bigger than anything i'd point isabel at on my own... but something about having a trainer there makes it feel more doable?

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  11. Holy moly that place looks amazeballs.

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  13. I still want to go ride there. Looks so fun! And congrats to Karen!

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    1. haha well if you're ever over on this coast lmk and we'll go!!

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  14. I still want to go ride there. Looks so fun! And congrats to Karen!

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