Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Olde Hope: cross country!

Onto everyone's favorite phase: cross country!! We were already a little hot and sweaty, and I was concerned with how stuck behind my leg Isabel felt. But I also felt really good about the course. There were challenges but I felt prepared and had a plan.

perhaps looking a little more awake than she did before dressage? (sugar cubes help lol)
Going into the event, my intention was to treat it as glorified schooling. Very unlike my plans for Tranquility's xc round - where my number one priority was going clear on cross country (for the first time at BN). And recall at that outing we took every single easy option available. 

But that's the thing with me and goals - I set them and stick to them. At Tranquility I *needed* a clear round and made decisions to give me the best shot. At Olde Hope I wanted a taste of novice, but low pressure. So I would take the high options but not beat myself up for mistakes. 

fence 1 was shared with BN - kinda an arrowhead shape channeling you to a small berm
I didn't bother with any more warm up fences, preferring to save the horse. Plus the stadium jumps looked pretty solid anyway. And our first two fences on course had no reason to pose any issues. Tho Izzy did honestly look ever so slightly at all this shrubbery surrounding 1. But she ambled over anyway.
a cute skinny also shared with BN (tho still actually sub-BN size)
Fence 2 was hot on its heels and another gimme. Nice and easy. I'm actually not sure which I prefer: a very easy or a very serious first fence or two on course. I like the idea of easing into a rhythm... but then again a more challenging first fence requires me to immediately snap into gear. Idk. These were fine tho so who really cares.

reasonable little coop
My chiro had referred to Olde Hope as 'flat' - which I guess technically it is bc there isn't any change in elevation over on the eastern shore. But actually the course had quite a bit of terrain built in. And we had a little down hill dip going into this coop.

line of ditches!
Then we arrived at the first option fence on course. Three ditches in a row - tho they didn't appear to be any different size (mayyyyybe getting shallower towards the far left) - and a small black pipe jump as the easy option.

not very deep. 
Per the plan, I would jump the ditch and aim for the middle one - lest we end up drifting one way or another we'd still be right in front of the obstacle and between the flags.

but actually quite wide
I didn't honestly expect any issues. Our first two ditches ever were at events and Izzy jumped them out of stride (tho she looked). Lately we've schooled them a bit and she always goes over, but hesitates. So I knew she would go over but allowed the hesitation. In retrospect I should have tried harder to drive her over out of stride (since we got there quite nicely) to really establish that we jump the jumps on course. But.... whatevs. We were over it and on our way to fence 5.

another option - shared with BN and Intro
I had to pep talk myself a little bit about sticking to the plan at fence 5. It was a small built-up mound to a drop vs. a teeeeeeeny tiny panel jump. Idk why I even questioned what to do. Maybe bc I thought the change in footing would be spooky? Whatever. Stick to the plan, Emma!

back side of the drop. #notthatbig
I did bring her down to trot, and she did look a little bit... but dropped down without hesitation. Down banks have never caused issue with this mare. Good girl.

wishing wells!
I actually really liked the look of fence 6. Not entirely sure why... but the brain is weird like that. We got a sloppy tight distance anyway tho... but it worked in my favor since I wanted to detour off course with a tight left turn after the fence, and the conservative jump made it that much easier.
this combination..... this raises red flags for me
Because, you see, fence 7 did not look nearly as innocent as the map suggested. In fact, this was one of two areas on course that struck me as likely problem spots.

The fence itself was fine - a level-appropriate coop - but all that stuff behind it looked pretty claustrophobic. It was 2-3 strides to the water (dropping in, natch), with those other un-flagged fences kinda boxing us in.

the drop into water, with fence 8 hangin out in the upper right hand corner
I spent a while pondering what to do here. The water wasn't flagged, so avoiding it was an option. I could have tried to jump one of those other fences instead. But I wanted to ride the line as it was intended. Schooling, ya know? Except I was also a little worried about Isabel backing off of 7 because of all the stuff directly behind it.

my alternate route in red
It wasn't until I walked past the course on my way to stadium that I settled on this plan. Instead of going directly from 6 to 7 on a left hand turn, I would detour left earlier to go around the back side of the water to get Isabel through, so that when we approached 7 from a right turn, she'd have wet feet already and maybe it wouldn't come as such a surprise. Obvi this isn't really how you'd ride a timed course... but whatever. We were just schooling, right?

And I'm glad I did it. Isabel went in without issue, but she DEFINITELY backed off 7 anyway. Like, almost a refusal. But over she went, and down into the water she dropped. Good mare.

i also kinda really like this fence
Then we were off on our merry way - with only one other fence looming large in my mind. But looking back on 8, it's actually a bit bigger than I remembered from my course walk. Probably bc I purposefully didn't get too close to anything that looked like it might be novice-sized on the course walk. I just spotted this from a distance and thought "yep we will jump that" and yep, Isabel jumped it just fine.

wagon!
Same idea for the wagon. Didn't get particularly close while walking. Also purposefully tried not to pay attention when others struggled here (the start box was behind that tower on the left side, so we had ample opportunity to see how this obstacle rode).

I rode it super aggressively tho - you can tell in the helmet cam footage bc my upper body gets really busy when I ride that hard and the view gets shaky... oh well, c'est la vie. It's more important to be effective than soft, right? And we jumped the jump. I was getting pretty tired at this point (Izzy was using up as much support as I could offer) so the footage kinda stays shaky for most of the ride.

kinda a strange up bank - top of the rail is not level with the bank itself
Kept up the hard ride to 10. Isabel backed off but still stepped up the bank with relative ease and just trotted off toward the next fence.

nice let up fence
Fence 11 was just a plain old log. Good for a mental break for hard-thinking pony. She was kinda looking around at this point wondering why there were so many more 'questions' vs. just plain old roll tops and coops to jump but still felt pretty game.
raised path between the woods and the pond
The path from the log down to fence 12 didn't reeeeeally worry me, but I couldn't help but remember the little raised path on course at Waredaca that had Izzy a little jumpy. I think the problem there was just that it was gravelly, and she cantered right along here no problem.

terrain!!
Then it was another example of how Olde Hope wove their terrain into the course. They called 12 the 'berm bump' presumably bc you dropped down from the berm on a fairly steep angle to hit 12 in 2-3 strides.

very simple fence
It was fine tho. The fence didn't look particularly problematic, and I learned on our last schooling outing that maintaining a quality canter is actually easier down hill vs. up hill - the descent helps keep the horse more naturally collected. So we just skipped right over, tho I actually misjudged my line and should have jumped it going left instead of right to set us up better for 13.
probably the biggest fence on course - with 8 a close second
Because fence 13 definitely gave me pause on the walk. And was another one I didn't go anywhere near enough to actually assess size. Nope. I did not need to know haha. All I could think was that we were gonna jump this jump or get eliminated trying.

And I rode my ass off to it (again evidenced by the shaky helmet cam) but she jumped it beautifully. Nice spot, nice effort, nice everything. Up and over with ease. Guys the size is definitely not a problem for this horse.

baby trakehner??
I was SUPER tired by this point but still kept my wits about me. Fence 14 looked like NOTHING - except quite a few riders picked up penalties here. It's a sorta natural ditch with a log over it. Small in stature but perhaps asking the same question as a trakehner? Maybe? Idk. Izzy took a little look but hopped over just fine.

blurry woods!!
Then I opted to trot along through the woods for a little breather (for both of us). Again, I was clearly riding way too slow for a timed course - but that's not really a concern of mine at present. I was more concerned with keeping the horse happy and forward for the final two efforts - plus the ground was hard and rocky. Trotting is totally acceptable under these conditions, in my book.

exit from the woods
I actually took the wrong path out of the woods initially - but fortunately noticed the error of my ways quickly. And Isabel is just so easy - she just slowed back down and turned around and continued trotting down the wooded path like nbd.
back out into the open
Then cantered up out of the correct path to 15. We had a shitty canter tho (my fault) and kinda chipped over it. But nbd. Then it was just a question of navigating a little more terrain and making it to our final fence.

one last option!
Final fence 16 was another option shared with BN and Intro (intro sized fence is not pictured above). I actually had to think a little bit about which was which between BN and Novice. The coop looks like it might be a hair higher, but the ramp/table thingy was much MUCH wider. So that's what I went with. Again with the strong riding (and shaky helmet cam) but she hit it beautifully and cantered through the finish lines to finish the course free of penalties!


Yay!!! First Novice is in the books with a clear xc round! I'm definitely SUPER pumped about this. The cross country round was VERY different from last week's easy romp across OF's course... we had a lot more hesitation here and Isabel needed quite a bit more support from me (including both stick and spur).

But I think I'm ok with it. Most of the fences were soft for the level height-wise, but the questions were still there. Up and down banks. Ditches. Jump right before the water (itself a drop). Something that mayyyyybe resembled a trakehner if you squint hard enough. We definitely spent a lot more time thinking on this course than we did last week at OF, that's for sure.

Ultimately tho I'm quite pleased with how Isabel handled it. We were slow, but careful and ultimately correct. Still not sure exactly what the future holds for us re: BN vs. Novice... but more schooling is probably merited regardless.

verrrry sleepy - but not too sleepy to eat lol
also - see how pretty this ribbon is? with the floral streamers?!?
It wasn't until I hopped off from xc that I learned how well positioned we were, too. My decidedly non-horsey mother asked to take Izzy for the walk back to the trailers so I jetted off to the office to check for dressage scores. And learned that I had been in first after dressage!!! The rail in stadium should have dropped me to 3rd... but the xc course proved influential enough that I managed to hang on to the top spot. My first win at an HT ever!!!

isabel loves my parents haha
I'm just so excited about this! What a fun event - definitely glad I went! :D

59 comments:

  1. Oh man that looked like fun! Fun mow patterns out in that field too! Great job.

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    1. so much fun!!! and the mow patterns at Olde Hope are actually pretty awesome - i think spirals are kinda their 'thing' since their website logo has them too

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  2. You guys did awesome! I'm thinking this move up to novice is a good one. (Also thinking the spurs and encouragement wand are a good idea, too.)

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    1. haha thanks! yea i'm definitely grateful to have had the spurs on hand, esp given the fact that i only started using them at the last event at my trainer's recommendation

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  3. Congrats! Novice isn't so bad, actually. My current mantra, as I jump higher and higher on Mia, is that if you don't look at the jump, it doesn't look big!

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    1. haha that's kinda how i'm thinking about it. i don't even get too close on the course walk. just enough to see the terrain lol

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  5. Congratulations on your WIN at OLDE HOPE!
    We appreciate your support and would love to post your xc video on our facebook page. Do you mind?

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    1. Thank you for putting on such a wonderful event - we had a great time! Yes you may absolutely post the video. I wish it was better quality (and not so shaky!) but oh well. I'll just have to come back and get better footage next time too :)

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    2. Thanks for permission to post your cross country ride. Please visit our facebook page to see your winning photo and funny caption!

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    3. thanks - i love the caption!!!

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  6. I love everything about this!! The course looked so fun and very fair for a move-up; you made an excellent decision in choosing Olde Hope for your Novice debut! I love seeing your presence of mind and planning in the helmet cam video, too. YAY FOR EMMA AND IZZY!!

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    1. yay thanks! it was a very fair course, and was helpful in figuring out what we need to polish up if we want to actually stay at this level!

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  7. fantastic! i love her little radar ears. "that jump? no? ok what about that jump?" and if there were professional pics taken i think you should get some (and share them with us!) some of those jumps were awesome!

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    1. thanks! i wish there were pro pics but sadly i don't think there were.... if i happen to find any, tho, rest assured i will snap them all up and post asap!

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    1. aw thanks! she likes feeling pretty haha

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  9. Yay! Congrats! What a great experience. Seems like the move up was NBD.

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    1. it was a really great experience. it wasn't quite as nonchalant as last week and we definitely have some homework, but it was doable!

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  10. Definitely some hesitation in spots but way to get it done! Very solid first effort at Novice.

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    1. thanks! some moments of hesitation were avoidable, i think, if i'd been a little more assertive in my riding... others, tho... haha we jussssssst barely made it over the coop at 7. but. we DID make it over and that's what counts lol

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  11. What a difference when moving up! That definitely looked like more of a challenge but you handled it so well! Yay Izzy too!

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    1. thanks! it was definitely a very different ride from last week, that's for sure. partly i think it's bc isabel came out of the gates a little stuck and behind my leg. on a different day it might have been easier... but only one way to find out :)

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  12. Way to go!! What an awesome course for a move up - looked very fair and you guys did a great job! Love that you parents made it out too :)

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    1. it really was a great course - lots of very inviting fences interspersed with the more challenging sections. and having my parents there was SO gratifying! they hadn't really seen me ride in ~10 years but have now made it to both fair hill and this event :)

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  13. VERY nice creative approach for fence 7, decisions like that really make all the difference- congrats on the well deserved win!!

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    1. seriously! i had to learn that lesson the hard way at our first BN at loch moy, so now i always try to be super observant about alternate options for riding a course haha

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  14. That looks like a fun course, and you and Isabel did a great job!

    #7 looks seriously weird...I think I would have chosen the same route you did!

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    1. thanks! and 7 was definitely weird - a lot going on there. it worked out tho!

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  15. Congrats! That looked like so much fun to ride.

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  16. Congrats on the win. This looks like so much fun.

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  17. Congrats! That looks like a tough course to me

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    1. thanks! it was definitely tougher in some aspects than other courses i've done

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  18. Congrats!!!! A move up and a blue ribbon- doesn't get better than that!

    Also, I can't help but notice some creative mowing patterns in the video... very interesting!

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    1. the mow patterns were awesome haha - and actually helped me plan out a lot of my lines!

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  19. Congratulations! And nice to see your outside-the-box thinking for your route to 7 paid off!

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    1. thanks. one of these days i'd like to see water be less of an issue... but until then, we just gotta be a little creative haha

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  20. Yay! Congrats on the great result!

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  21. Blue on your first novice outing?! Awesome! Looks like such a blast and such a good decision for location to move up. I even thought some of those fences looked inviting!

    ..But, but, if you keep being ballsy, you'll have to change the name of your blog!

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    1. haha some of those fences were SUPER inviting! definitely a good choice for novice-lite lol

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  22. AH! Congratulations! Looks like a ton of fun!!!

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  23. You are a showing maniac!!! Congrats on your fist novice!!

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    1. lol thanks - what can i say, we love to get out there and have fun!

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  24. Congrats on the ribbon! Love the helmet cam and all the "good girls"!! :)

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    1. lol i was so curious to see what all kinds of things i would say once i started recording with the helmet cam... turns out i'm super boring and just trill 'good girl' incessantly haha

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  25. yayyy!! definitely trust your lizard brain on loving certain fences! hooray again!

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  26. Ahhhh! YAY! Congrats on a wonderful, wonderful outing :D :D

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    1. thanks - it was wonderful indeeeeeed :D

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  27. Dude. This is all so awesome. Belated for sure, but CONGRATULATIONS.

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    1. thanks!!! we'll be going back in just over two weeks for another go :D

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