Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MDHT: Cross Country!!

Cross country time!!! Complete with tons more gorgeous pictures from Austen haha. All of my favorite things in one post - what's not to love?

sweet mare is very sweet <3
I actually felt a little better about my life after walking this cross country course than I did walking the BN course last spring at our move up. Probably just bc I have a little more experience and was a bit better prepared this time around.

so much quieter compared to before dressage lol
Whatever the reasons, the course actually struck me as fairly inviting and easy. There were a few challenging areas but I had a pretty clear plan for how to handle them just based on my walk. And the height looked ok. Granted I intentionally did not get any closer than necessary to most of the jumps... but generally it all looked about how I expected.

ready for action?
Plus Isabel felt pretty game and was jumping out of her skin (despite what all those knocked rails might suggest).

that tail tho!
So it was just a matter of hitting a couple solid warm up fences (one BN fence we jumped last spring, and another novice sized hanging log thingy) then waiting our turn to go out on course.

cabbage box claimed a couple victims
Izzy left the start box well and settled right into cruising gear. All the same tho, we kinda fumbled jump 1. It was inviting and shared with BN, but somehow wasn't really riding well all the same. I managed to get a little ahead of Isabel (or rather, more likely, probably didn't work hard enough to get her in front of me), but we got over it and I immediately kicked her forward.

caber (a term i had to google bc wtf is a caber?)
Fence 2 was a little stilted too - more of that same backwards riding. But it was ok - tho I also started laying on the verbal encouragement at this point, since Izzy responds really well to it.

gallllloooopppp woooo hoooo
She was clicking almost into gear, but we had a little too much fast and not quite enough pull. Meaning - she was really GOING, but she wasn't necessarily pulling me along too and was kinda slipping behind my leg.

ark
So we kinda crawled over the ark too - which came up pretty quickly after the first two fences - before getting some room to settle into a gallop.

log roll
We finally got into that good gallop gear tho, and Isabel carried me over fence 4 beautifully before weaving through the trees to the 5 A-B combo.

coop
This combo had worried me a little bit on the walk for a couple reasons. They're nestled in the woods - and Dan is fond of saying that horses will always try to back off and get behind your leg in the woods. Plus they were maxed out and walked in three strides (for a 12' stride).

roll top
But they are very inviting, plain fences. And Isabel really has no problem hitting a 12' stride when she's galloping. So yea my gut felt iffy about them... but my brain knew better.


And obviously Isabel was fine. Locked on and marched straight down the line and immediately hunted for whatever was next. Good mare!

pheasant feeder
And next was the feeder. She wiggled ever so slightly on approach but still jumped it fine. Then we trotted down a steep rocky hill. I was kinda happy to have this little 'pause' in the course bc Isabel still felt really strong, but was verging on getting flat and felt like she could easily slip behind my leg if I wasn't careful.

first ever trakehner ... gulp!
But I wanted to be careful, bc right after the downhill was a quick left turn to a trakehner, something I've never tried with Isabel before. And it had a pretty open face - meaning the ditch was clearly visible from a ways out. It was really a small log tho, and I just focused on that part of it and Isabel cruised over no issue.

loved all the other bigger jumps peppered across the course. that barn was HUGE!
Then we GALLOPED up the hill haha. This mare is so fast - she really GOES! It's such an incredible feeling to just let her go like that too, tho obvi I had to reel it in a bit for the jumps...

bothy (another term i googled lol)
But the next fence was pretty straight forward. We had a refusal at the BN version of this fence last time we were at Loch Moy... but that was because it was right out of the water and I was an idiot and tried to jump it from a trot.

we don't care about no bothy tho!
I didn't expect the fence itself to cause any issues and Isabel agreed. Up and over at a pretty forward clip.

could the water be any more inviting? i don't think so haha
My biggest concern about novice cross country turned out to be a nonissue on this course - the water was a standalone obstacle. No jumps before or after. Awesome!

trit trot through the water (apparently still defensive about it tho lol). also what's this green thing in the foreground?
I still trotted the mare through it just to be play it safe, but she was fine.

crappy lighting - but it's a loch ness type monster jump! how f*ing neat is that? (obvi not on our course tho haha)
Then again tho - coming down to trot was yet another opportunity to sort of reorganize and make sure we had an appropriate canter for the rest of the course.

another coop
Next up was another big coop that I didn't get very close to on the walk but again expected it to go well. Especially after Isabel nailed the coop in the woods. And she jumped it beautifully right out of stride. Yesssss.

up bank bending to the garden gate. looks .... potentially challenging
My immediate gut reaction upon walking this 11-12 line was that we ought to circle between the two since they were flagged separately. Neither obstacle individually looks terrible - but add in the bend and what could possibly be an overly strong and disorganized canter AND our left drift issues and... yea.

garden gate - numbered separately from the bank, rather than as an A-B combo
Part of me was tempted to try it - but then I thought back to my goals for the day, especially that 'ride smart' bit. We could probably have made this work no problem (Izzy NAILED the up bank), but circling would give us the best shot. So we circled. And it was alllll gravy.

timber table on rising ground (and sugarloaf mountain!)
Then we had to quickly get over to hug the treeline for a kinda bizarre turn to this large table set on an uphill approach. This one made me a bit nervous too... and we actually came in to it pretty under powered. It was fine tho. Isabel jumps the jumps. She's a pro :)

mdht log (and more mountain)
But then naturally I totally biffed this skinny log - easily the smallest fence on course. Poor mare. One day I will learn to commit to the forward stride. But at this fence I pulled for the add and poor horse thunked her legs on it. Le sigh.

lattice and mountain
Then down hill to the lattice - historically our bogey fence. Isabel barely climbed over the BN version last spring, then we had a stop at a similar fence at Waredaca. But she didn't even blink this time. Awesome.

lattice is officially off the shit list
I am retaining the right to be worried about bright white versions of this style fence, but otherwise I think our lattice issues may be laid to rest.

produce stand
Then it was on to the final fence - a very large produce stand. Very large - but very inviting. And actually pretty reminiscent of the final fence on course at Olde Hope last month. I saw a couple riders have issues here (including one horse that practically body slammed the thing...) but honestly expected it to go well should we make it this far.

flying
And oh boy, did it go well. This was maybe our nicest combined effort on course. It was perfect.

she's incredible
Isabel SOARED over it - you can really get a sense for the air time in the video too. What a feeling!


It felt SO GOOD to finish this course without penalties. Isabel couldn't have been any better through that course. She didn't look at anything, and did everything exactly the way I asked (even if I was being kinda stupid lol).

the many faces of mare stare
It's crazy to think about - but the mare has become so educated about cross country now that it's really quite easy for her. Like this course - the height was fine, and there really weren't any questions that she can't easily handle. I still rode it pretty conservatively in places, bc that's just my general instinct - but Isabel could easily go for the bold ride too, I think.

poor austen got put to work too
(also isabel is such a midget compared to wick!)
So we finished on a strong note. The dressage test was a little disappointing - but it was also super uncharacteristic and I suspect that maybe only one out of every half dozen tests will ever go that way. And stadium... well, that's all on me. I know the problems and how to fix them... it's just a process of actually doing it haha.

seriously. this mare. she is so sweet!
I was also way more tense and stressed going into this event than I have been in... a while. And that most definitely affected Isabel a bit too.

But the relief I felt upon completion was immense - so that should get a little easier with each novice event. Because yea, we're gonna stay here, I think. And in fact, we'll be back in a couple weeks for the final HT of the fall series. Exciting!

59 comments:

  1. You guys seriously made that xc look like cake. CAKE. Delicious cake.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome job! You guys totally kick butt. Also I totally have helmet cam envy. I want one... :) But seriously so awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! and yea you should totally get a helmet cam too - it's easily the best thing i ever got myself :D

      Delete
  3. WELL DONE!!! Seriously what a GREAT run! And lovely course at that venue too! You should be very proud of yourself for that!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you! it really is a very pretty venue - seems like a great place to get some miles at this level too

      Delete
  4. SO AWESOME! You guys have done just so well this season! You can really tell from the video how much Izy loves XC!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! i think she really does love it - and she's just so much fun to ride!

      Delete
  5. The combination in the woods looked fabulous! You guys did a great job

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you! i was super happy with that combo too :)

      Delete
  6. The progress you and your awesome mare have made is truly incredible! I wish I was there to give you a giant high five!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw thank you! i'm pretty sure isabel has been waiting for *years* for me to actually let her start jumping some bigger stuff haha. she's probably thinking "finally!" lol. it's just taken a while for me to catch up with her ;)

      Delete
  7. With her ears forward in every picture, she looks like she loves it! You guys have come so far and are doing awesome. I'm so glad I've been able to read along. You really show how it is to have fun!

    ReplyDelete
  8. With her ears forward in every picture, she looks like she loves it! You guys have come so far and are doing awesome. I'm so glad I've been able to read along. You really show how it is to have fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw thank you - and thank you for reading along too! it really has been such a privilege to ride this mare - she has risen to every occasion, and then some.

      Delete
  9. Way to go! I think Izzy should give Violet some lessons on being the star cross country mare!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha maybe! she's really developing into quite the xc machine out there! we still have a couple issues (esp surrounding water) but this course was perfectly suited for the mare to easily cruise through!

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. thanks - that's exactly what it felt like!

      Delete
  11. You guys are amazing! I loved all the photos. You two look so perfect, and those jumps are beautiful. The loch ness monster is awesome!
    Also, for some reason, many of the jumps on this course made me hungry, starting with the cabbage box, and including all those terms I've never heard of before. The produce stand took my hunger over the top.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i love the loch ness monster too!!! and lol @ getting hungry over the course - i suppose there was a bit of a food theme haha

      Delete
  12. The picture of you two flying over the final fence seriously made me grin from ear to ear (: Yay Team Izzy!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Aw, proud of you! Your ode that 3 stride line AMAZING and these jumps were not tiny. Great job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you! i was super happy with how that line rode - and the mare clearly doesn't care about the size (even if i kinda do lol)

      Delete
  14. That looks like a really fun course! You and Isabel were AWESOME!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! it was super fun - i'm actually not sure we could have had a better first real novice course. enough full size stuff to feel legit, but all still really inviting and confidence building.

      Delete
  15. Replies
    1. it's such a rush to finish one of these courses!

      Delete
  16. Amazing amazing amazing! Great riding! -Kathryn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you! she makes it feel easy :D

      Delete
  17. Congrats on the clear round. It looks like so much fun. I find it really interesting how the jumps look huge and scary in the walking pictures and then in the helmet cam, they look fine. I guess that's why you don't get close to them when walking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks it really was so much fun! and in fairness - the helmet cam has a fish eye lens so it flattens and skews the picture a bit - it's very difficult to see things like hills through that lens, and yea all the jumps look smaller. all the same tho, yea i don't get too close on the walk!

      Delete
  18. so awesome! Her expression and go get em attitude just shows all the hard work you two have put in is paying off!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! she was really taking no prisoners on this course :D

      Delete
  19. You guy look great! What a fun course, I love watching those little chestnut ears perk up at all the fences in your helmet cam video.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha thanks!! i love her happy ears too - they're always super reassuring!

      Delete
  20. Sounds like a good way to end the event! I love her little ears <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i feel so good about how we finished up ! the dressage and stadium mistakes were just exactly that - mistakes that i can fix. but it's a great feeling knowing that we can still make it through novice xc despite all that

      Delete
  21. And that, is how it is done. Great job! And now that you mentioned your left hander issues, I keep looking to see if you go left ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! and yea... we pretty much jump the left side of everything always. EXCEPT when it's in our best interests to do so, in which case we will jump the right side. lol i'm apparently not particularly centered ;)

      Delete
  22. Wow, love this post a hundred times over! You guys nailed that cross country course & Isabel looks like she's having a blast!

    American cross country courses are always so beautifully decorated, this one looks beautiful. Brilliant photos/videos too, well done guys!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank yo!!! and yea this course is really gorgeous - esp with the mountains in the background. they do a lot of big recognized events here too, which i guess is why they keep it so well maintained

      Delete
  23. Awesome ride, great recap! It was like I was there with you.

    Nice job, can't wait to hear about the next one :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yay i'm glad the recap felt like that! next one will be next week, if you can believe it haha

      Delete
  24. Love the flying pic! Well done! That was a beautiful course and you guys made great work of it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! i really love that pic too (tho i wish all those flags weren't in the way!)

      Delete
  25. Replies
    1. thank you! she felt really great out on course :)

      Delete
  26. This whole post kind of makes me want to try eventing. Mainly because you guys just make it look so easy and fun! Congrats on another great outing with your mare!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw thank you! isabel really does make it a blast - she just loves to GO haha. you should give it a try one day just for the hell of it!

      Delete
  27. Weeee! You guys look like you're flying! So. Much. Fun! (Awesome pics too!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you - it really felt like we were flying too - such a rush!!

      Delete
  28. Replies
    1. aw thanks!!! the horse certainly feels like a pro out there ;)

      Delete