Wednesday, March 30, 2016

schooling familiar xc with marginal success

Ok ok, so I already told you we went cross country schooling at the lovely AOPF this weekend. In an ideal world, our first outing of the season would include professional guidance in the form of one of my trusted trainers.

But when jump trainer P had to cancel our typical Saturday lesson, Brita and I decided to take things into our own hands. So off we went!

horses look happy and ready to go!
And of course, readers love getting the gory details first, so we'll cut straight to the part where I fell off voluntarily dropped from my position clinging to the horse's side like a monkey. 

Still not entirely sure what happened here, other than one stride lines of oxers have posed problems for us in the past (ahem, HERE and HERE) - so perhaps this one stride line of raised logs had the same effect? And let's just forget that we've jumped this exact set of fences a ton before... that was last year and this is this year. So be it. 

the exact moment shit got real. technically still mounted at this point
Regardless, we stopped at the in. Then made it over the in on reapproach and ran out of the out. No good, Izzy, no good. Reapproached again with similar results - except ran out to the other direction, thus leaving me precariously dangling off Isabel's left side. Good mare trotted a couple steps then came to a halt while I struggled in vain to pull myself back into the saddle.

Those efforts were unsuccessful, alas, so I just dropped to my feet. Boooooo Isabel! (but seriously tho, thanks for just kinda standing there while I flailed around instead of taking off bolting!!)

nope, no longer on the horse. finally. tho the shadow kinda makes it look like the horse is on me?!?
My helmet camera got knocked loose from it's locking mechanism, but was otherwise unscathed. And stayed hooked to the safety tether so that while it was annoying to have the thing dangling around in my face amid the whole mess, the camera didn't fall or get stepped on or anything. Yay for sturdy equipment?

wicked would like to announce to the world that he felt VERY ALIVE at this moment
So anyways, that was but a blip in our outing. An unfortunate blip, yes, and one that doesn't really do much for my recently rediscovered soft squishy yellow belly. But. Like I said. New year, new us. For better or worse. We'll work through it.

The rest of the schooling was actually quite positive and uneventful. (Even if I didn't feel great about it). We did most of what I set out to do:

  • keep the height in my comfort zone, we want confidence!
  • cover all the important questions 
  • get in, get it done, and get out. no need to wear the mare out after the day prior's intense dressage clinic!

And I couldn't have been happier with Isabel's warm up - walk trot cantering all through the field around all the obstacles (including a preemptive check for groundhog holes). She was nicely balanced and mostly connected to the bridle, happily going up and down the hill.

Per our last xc lesson with Dan, Isabel was responsible for our canter lead as we changed directions. No signals or input from me - just the expectation that she'd figure it out. And she did. The mare behaved like a seasoned event horse out there - so we at least have that going for us!

three stride combination
Obviously "important questions" is a relative term when it comes to the lowest levels of eventing. What really are the questions at BN or N? For me, these mostly include related distances and trakehners for N, and the holy trinity of banks, water and ditches for BN and N. And generally, just jumping some weird lookin stuff.


So we did lots of related distances - 4, 3 and 1 stride combos (one of which was decidedly less successful than the others... thank goodness N has a minimum of 2 strides!). And the occasional strange fence (hi carrot jump!!).

nom nom nom!!
And we covered banks and ditches. I stuck to the smaller BN ditch bc... see blog title. And the giant trakehners at AOPF were still on my 'nope' list even at my peak last summer so... this day was not the day for them.

But actually the lessons from last summer stuck and our ditch efforts rode really well in both directions. I was very pleased that I (mostly) kept us on our rhythm rather than allowing that last hesitant stutter stride before the ditch. Isabel felt slightly uncommitted to the up side of the Irish bank, but up she went, and down she happily dropped on the far side.

ditch in foreground, up and down Irish bank in background
We didn't make it to the water for... eh no real reason other than it was kinda far away and we took pity on our ground crew. I honestly just didn't feel like it. OF has a better water complex anyway so we'll be sure to dip our toes soon (maybe after our next lesson if we don't actually school their xc).


All of these jumps have appeared on the blog before, so maybe it's boring to see them again (tho I swear these are new pictures and not repurposed from our other trips to AOPF!). But boring is good for me right now. So boring is what you get. #sorrykindanotsorry

Also worth noting - my saddle pads slipped quite a bit after the red roll tops in the second video, sparking concerns that the trial K&M saddle had climbed up Isabel's shoulders. Upon unceremoniously dismounting at the one-stride, I double checked and the saddle itself looked good - like just the pads slipped. But saddle fitter J is taking a look anyway.

So. First cross country school of the season is in the books folks. Boom. Splat.

42 comments:

  1. Yay for cross country!! I'm glad the fall was nothing but a little blip, it looks otherwise insanely fun! Isabel looks very confident in the video!

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    1. otherwise... yes pretty fun haha. actually you just made me realize i missed out on the perfect naming opportunity for this post, since the farm is called 'an otherwise perfect farm' it could have been 'an otherwise perfect schooling'.... how did i miss that?!? haha

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  2. I love the videos. Izzy's ears are so cute! Hopefully your next outing is more confidence building. I am glad that you landed on your feet!

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    1. i love her little pricked ears too!

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  3. I hate when my saddle spits out my pad.

    You have to start somewhere so good for you for making the most of what you got :) next school will be even better I'm sure.

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    1. yea the saddle pad thing is just a frustration we deal with given izzy's confo... but i definitely don't like it at all!

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  4. One strides are kind of the devil... I always feel like they should be easy because the fewer strides there are the less there is to mess up right?! NOPE. Devil distances, I tell you.

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    1. haha pretty much. never mind that pretty much every single jump lesson we take includes a one stride grid ... we apparently can still biff them pretty terribly!

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  5. Last fall: hopping pleasantly over 2'3" fences with enthusiasm and a reasonable degree of confidence. 2'6" seems within reach. This spring: the single tiny x-rail at the end of a series of trot poles is terrifying. Where did my nerve go? Argh.

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    1. ugh so annoying, right?!? for me, the difference lies in just taking time off. it's never like a single incident or accident or something, i just need to be jumping regularly - it needs to be routine and mundane before i can get really comfortable again.

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    2. I think you're right -- familiarity makes it less terrifying. I'm probably also overthinking it because it's time to start cantering in to fences this year and I'm... being somewhat wimpy about that.

      Canter poles. We shall start with canter poles, I think. If he can do canter poles and not trip and die, he can canter into a small jump and not trip and die. (Horse is sensible and level-headed. Rider... not so much.)

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    3. oooh yea, definitely start with canter poles haha - bc imho opinion, they are actually harder than jumps. if you get there at a bad spot, the horse will just split it's front legs over the pole, as opposed to getting to a jump at a bad spot where the horse will kinda just figure it out one way or another. so if you can consistently hit the poles nicely, the jumping will be super easy. honestly tho i think canter jumps are easier than trot jumps - so hopefully your horse will agree!

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  6. I'm insanely jealous that you are able to school XC already.

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    1. ha yea - and that's a good point, we had beautiful weather and great ground. for that i am grateful!!!

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  7. For some reason your nose in the videos was giving me the giggles, like it was pointing the way. #helmetcamwoes Sounds like a pretty solid schooling even with the blip, you will be back in no time!

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    1. lolz i laughed at my nose too!!! (and tried to crop it out of the stills....). the helmet cam seems to always get a pretty good pic no matter where i point it, but the nose thing is a little silly... thanks tho - i hope to get back in the groove soon!

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  8. I have such a great love for Izzy's XC ears!!

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  9. I'm usually someone who goes for a super short mane, but I love hers blowing around while you are out there! Very cinematic to me!

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    1. ha right? she definitely has a flair for the dramatic! i personally tend to prefer the shorter look too... but it's not my call so we rock it long.

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  10. This looks like so much fun. Good job landing on your feet.

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    1. thanks! landing on my feet > landing on anything else any day haha

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  11. That does not qualify as a fall. It was simply a readjustment in position that involved the ground.

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  12. She still likes that left drift, doesn't she? You guys still look awesome!

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    1. omg yes that left drift... tho we actually had a couple centered fences this go 'round, which i'm attributing to the grant schneidman clinic on our crookedness. maybe one day we'll fly straight all the time?

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  13. Ohhhh my, I'm going to live vicariously through these videos since it'll still be a few weeks until I get back on xc. Besides the body flailing, it looks like it was a good time!

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    1. it was a pretty good time, honestly. esp looking back on it. just didn't *feel* wonderful while it was happening. ah well.

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  14. Oh how I love helmet cams!!! Please keep em comin! When's your 1st event?

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    1. haha i'm addicted to this helmet camera and will be very happy to spam blogland with more more moar! first event is april 10

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    2. Yassss thank you! Sweet that's right around the corner. You girls got this ;)

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    3. thanks - i'm PUMPED (tho obvi kinda scared too lol)

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  15. At least it was a pretty calm fall/dismount rather than a wild and crazy and painful one?

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    1. seriously! i thought for a minute i was going into the log... and then i thought that izzy was gonna bolt and i might get dragged in the stirrup... but no none of those things happened bc she really is a very good little mare!

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  16. Nice schooling area. I want to xc school so badly. Great videos :)

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    1. it's probably my favorite schooling area actually - tho it's a little more fun when i feel bolder bc the options get big fast haha

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  17. Love your XC videos (although I feel a little of the yellow belly myself just watching!) Good luck at your first event! :)

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    1. glad you like them! and thanks - despite all appearances i am actually looking forward to going to an event ;)

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  18. You were just practicing how to get back on board when you were dangling ;)

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    1. ha #needsmorepractice i guess since i ultimately couldn't pull myself up ;)

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  19. I'm exhausted just watching a video of you guys galloping all over that field. She's so cute with her little ears looking for jumps every time there's one in her line of sight though.

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    1. lol i love her excited little ears too :) that field is deceptive too - it kinda feels like your in a not-so-large space schooling, as opposed to trekking from field to field like most schooling venues. but the entire thing is on a hillside and it can actually easily fatigue the horse if you're not careful!

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