Wednesday, April 13, 2016

MDHT Spring Starter #2: Cross Country!!

Moving right along to cross country! Brita and I had arrived early to walk our courses and it was pretty darn frigid... Plus all kinds of stuff had been knocked down in the winds overnight - like the starting gate and all the little decorative shrubbery.

The ground seemed fine enough, tho I worried that it would soften as the temperatures rose. Plus I was pretty close to last to go of the BN division - probably somewhere in the vicinity of 60-70 riders. So much of the course walk was spent assessing footing and choosing tracks. As it was, tho, the course started off incredibly inviting and only got more fun from there!

Many of these jumps will look familiar because... well, I've jumped 'em before. Like this little carved log. Super inviting and easy fence right smack out of the starting gate. Izzy had been quietly lapping the starting area while we waited our turn (perhaps slightly disgruntled that I wouldn't let her graze lol) after hitting two coops for warm up. But of course as soon as I said the word "Go" she was off! 

Fence 2 came hot on the first's heels, and is another familiar face. We've seen this and it's novice version both before. Izzy easily floated over. 

At least the advantage to riding a near-pony is that they never dwarf the fences haha!

A short run brought us to fence 3 (continuing with jumps we've seen before). It was somewhat hilarious - the BN fences were on the left-most side of these first couple jump rows. Izzy typically drifts left, but for these fences she kept pulling to the right trying to angle at the bigger fences. Sorry princess! We'll get back there soon enough!!

Fence 4 looks like a new addition to the venue and is visually interesting while maintaining an inviting face. Only thing that ran through my mind was Dan's caution that "horses will get behind your leg when jumping into and through the woods." I think there's definitely some truth to that, but I also think the long straight galloping approach early on course left me fussing a little overmuch with the mare and we hit a whacky distance. Yay BN height tho: we still just popped right over!

And here's where things really start getting interesting on course! After entering the woods at fence 4, we made a steep downhill turn to the garden gate (yet another we've jumped both BN and N before). It's not super apparent from the photo, but the downhill landing took us right through a slightly eroded (think: rutted dirt) area thick with fallen leaves.

This photo somewhat better shows all the leaves on what was at the time frozen ground, but eventually softened up to become a touch treacherous. Also in the above photo, you can see our next fence 6 - the brush. So imagine you've just turned left to hit the garden gate (directly behind the camera) heading downhill, to keep turning left through to head back up to the brush and out of the woods again. Lots of turning and terrain!!

We more or less expected to trot that section immediately after the garden gate, since there was plenty of room to make the turn then get back up to canter for the brush. Plus there were some reports of slippage in this section (including one poor soul whose saddle fell off (?!?!?!) at the garden gate).

Anyway, Izzy got a good shot into the gate, then reacted promptly when I asked for trot. She handled the ground fine, and obvi this brush jump posed no problem. It's funny tho - it was on our first ever BN course last year and TERRIFIED me then, but Isabel jumped it beautifully. Like trainer P says, horses just love brush, I guess. 

Then we had another twisting downhill galloping track to the little pheasant feeder. Izzy wanted to run a bit down the hill but honestly her brakes are so reliable that I never really worry. Just asked her to steady a little then up and over the feeder. 

A quick right turn led to the BN ditch - which overlapped with the N track's A-B combo of ditch to bothy. Oddly enough, Brita and I had just been discussing strategies for integrating xc schooling into actual events - like, "if there's a combo you want to try while you're out there that can conceivably be woven into your own track, go for it!" And obviously this particular combo looked RIPE for schooling.

Add in the fact that both individual obstacles are solid BN height, and the distance between was an easy three strides (probably doable even if you bumbled the ditch a bit), I definitely wanted to take a shot. 


Isabel never even glanced at the ditch - she was locked on to the bothy immediately and carried us straight down the line. Good mare!

Then another little gallop to catch this double brush table on slightly rising ground. I kinda hate jumping uphill (weird, I know) and this jump was easily the biggest in all dimensions on course... So probably if something were to scare me on this xc course, this jump would be it. And yet, it doesn't even compare to the monster we jumped a couple weeks ago so I just trusted that the mare would be fine. And boy, was she. Guys. This horse. I guess she just likes brush :)

Next came the second area of twisty turny terrainy stuff - starting with getting over this table to hug the treeline ahead. Isabel got a great shot over the table (it was probably somewhere around here where I remember to pop myself back up into a more forward seat with hands farther up the neck. and it will shock NOBODY to hear that this more forward and correct position makes going for the forward stride that much easier... lol) and wove her way nicely through the chewed up track ahead. 

This little jump was called the "Tootsie Roll" - adorable, right? It was about the size and shape of a couple barrels lined up. With a very short and oddly angled approach from the treeline, plus the false ground line, we decided that this jump should be given some care even tho it seemed innocent enough. 

Brita said she angled her jump over it and recommended I do the same. Done and done, Isabel couldn't have cared less. 

Then we immediately continued to loop left (lots of left loops and uphill jumping on this course!) to catch BN's A-B combo: this funky roller coaster looking thing. A roll top for the in, with a large earthen mound immediately upon landing. 

Then down the mound with two or three strides of flat ground before this little bench table thingy. Isabel ate this combo up like CANDY. It was sooo fun! Actually I kinda wish this B element was a little bigger just to kinda help rock the horse back a little. As it was tho, she was loving every minute!

Then continuing uphill to fence 13, the stick horse. We got another good jump here, and I immediately brought the horse back down to trot, then walk, with the water coming up fast on landing. 

And this is maybe my favorite thing about running cross country with Isabel - she can be FLYING across the ground hunting for anything that might even look like something to jump. But if I ask her to whoa, she whoas. Every time. Good mare!

The water was super inviting - only complicated by being close to the landing side of the last fence. And obvi still frozen when we walked the course that morning haha. 

We walked in and trotted sashayed out - whoever you people are who tell me I'll eventually be able to sit Izzy's extended trot... well, y'all are CRAZY. I can obviously barely post with her hahaha.

Part of me regrets not spending a little more time in the water, per usual. I get so wrapped up in making my way through the course that I forget to capitalize on schooling the water. I wish we had turned back around to canter through. And if she felt good there - I would maybe have tried to canter through the water to the N jump close to the edge. Especially given that's a weak spot for us... Oh well. We'll just have to go schooling again, boo hoo!

Anyway, one last quick gallop wherein I reminded myself AGAIN to shorten up my reins, get back into my half seat, and keep my hands half way up Izzy's neck, and then we reached our final fence. It was the BN version of the jump that's immortalized in this blog's header pic - so obviously it was fine. Izzy jumped it pretty flat actually, since despite her enthusiasm she really was quite tired. But it was all good :)

I think she likes this job!! :)


Be sure to check out the helmet camera video for the full perspective. And this might be the first cross country course in a while where we didn't come down to walk at any point (aside from briefly into the water), so it stays a bit more fast paced throughout.

wick has a shoulder to lean on!
Really tho, it was just such a fun event! I couldn't be prouder of this game little mare! And obviously Brita and I both had a great time - which was the whole point anyway. Part of me had kinda hoped that I would walk away from the event wishing we had stayed in Novice... but honestly I'm still really happy we went for BN instead. It was exactly what I needed.

There were some errors in my ride that will definitely cause problems as complexity and height increase, and I need to improve my overall strength and mental fortitude. Doing that at heights well within my comfort zone just makes everything go smoother.

Obviously Isabel will be ready and willing to move back up asap - but good mare that she is, she'll also happily jump around whatever little bumps I point her at.

So. First event of the season is a wrap. We knocked some rust off, figured out some specific areas for improvement. and reminded ourselves why we love this sport in the first place. Oooh. And got some sweet satin. What more can a girl want?!?

52 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that you had a good first outing! I know I've said this a million times but I love Iz she is so freaking cute! Good job!

    PS your video is set to private.

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    1. hm the video should be working - all the settings are public... maybe try again? and thanks, izzy really is such a good girl!

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    2. It's working now. I love your helmet cams. Awesome job!!!

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    3. Awesome - I freaked out about why it wasn't working haha, tricksy Internet!!!! Glad you like the videos tho, they're maybe my favorite thing EVAR lol

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  2. Some really awesome photos! Their jumps are just so pretty.

    Sounds like a great event for you two and it did exactly what you set out to do.

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    1. thanks, it was pretty perfect :D

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  3. The pictures make it look like so much fun!!! (video is private?) Although I think that barrel would have me shaking.
    I had no idea you could add in other jumps along your route! That's pretty neat. And WOW Izzy's trot is AUH-MAZING through that water!

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    1. ha isn't the trot kinda ridiculous? and you can do pretty much whatever you want between fences at a starter event - so long as you go through all your flags in the appropriate order. and at least at recognized events there are some rules about jumping anything a certain height above your competition height (maybe 6 inches?) but i'm not even sure they would care at a starter.

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  4. That course looks SO FUN!!! Way to rock and roll!

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  5. So... how were you not eliminated for jumping the novice B part of the coffin? I've never seen anyone get away with that at the schooling events I've been to.

    But the course looks easy and fun, and Izzy seems more than ready! Mikey LOVED brush fences too, as soon as he understood the tops were soft.

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    1. We weren't elongated bc it's legal at starter shows. Might be different if we were running BN and jumped something training - but one level up or down is ok. And regardless, there wasn't even a height difference in the obstacles - it was a BN sized fence used in N technicality.

      But yea we had so much fun - Izzy ate it al up!

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    2. Lol, ok! I know rules can vary series to series, but that totally wouldn't fly at the mini trial series I used to compete in. Hell, they nailed me for a refusal at a muddy spot no where near a jump. I should have argued that but didn't know enough at the time to do it. My series was very strict.

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    3. Wow that sounds intense for a starter series! The rules here are very much in line with "starter trial" is essentially synonymous with "schooling show." You can do pretty much whatever you want in between obstacles (up to and including getting off to tie your shoes) provided you go through your flags in the appropriate order and without penalty. That said, tho, I'm not sure it would fly if we were schooling prelim fences while running BN. But BN and N together is totally fine.

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  6. You guys look so awesome, and I am totally jealous of your awesome little mare! Have fun this year!!!

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    1. Thank you! We had a blast and I am definitely looking forward to getting out more more moar this year!!

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  7. Sounds like a really good first outing. Congrats again on the satin!

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    1. Thank you, it was just the event I needed to settle back into it!

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  8. It sounds like it was a really good confidence building outing! Congratulations

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    1. Absolutely! And it feels so good to know that Isabel is as bold and brave as ever, hopefully a couple more rides like this and my confidence will be equally recovered!

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  9. Sounds like a super great, confidence-building first outing!

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    1. Thanks - I'm SO HAPPY we went for BN. Probably it would have been fine doing novice... But it was so refreshing not to have to worry and just enjoy it as it happened !

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  10. Looks like such a good first outing! That course has so many twists and turns! What a blast!

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    1. I really loved the twists and turns - gave us more to think about than just long straight galloping approaches to small fences. Definitely fun!!!

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  11. What a super awesome outing! The ice on the water would have been a HELL NO for me, but that's why I don't live up there any more lol!

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    1. Haha we weren't exactly thrilled by that ice either... But it was long gone by the time we were actually riding. Thankfully it turned into a very lovely day despite the cold start

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  12. Sounds like a blast! Glad you're getting your sea legs back.

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    1. Thanks - I'm glad too. Feeling like we will be back up to snuff soon hopefully!

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  13. Sounds like it was a great event!! Congrats on a good finish and feeling confident!

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    1. Thank you! I really always have so much fun at this venue!!!

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  14. She's like "why did all my jumps shrink?". Also I spy a new XC pad. Or maybe I just never noticed it before. Either way.

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    1. Ha that was exactly what she was thinking! And the pad isn't exactly new, per se, I've had it for a couple years. But I never worked with the bates so it's just been collecting dust. Jury is out on whether it's the right fit for the k&m (there's a built in half pad) but I'm trying! Definitely works well with the super forward flap tho

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  15. Such a great outing for you guys!

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  16. What a fun course! She looks so happy in your helmet cam- no stopping the Izzy girl!!! And glad you had a confident first outing :)

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    1. I'm so relieved it was a confident course - esp such a fun course too!!

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  17. She just skipped around that course like it ain't no thang. Looks like such a fun girl to ride! Does she ever get upset when Wick leaves, or the other way around?

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    1. She is the MOST FUN EVAR haha. Neither she nor wick care about the other leaving when they're under saddle. But if Isabel gets left alone at the trailer she gets pissed. She is totally safe and not stupid about it. I can confidently leave her either in the trailer or tied next to it for however long and she won't hurt herself.... But she will be angry. So I generally try to take her with me when possible.... Mares haha. Wick doesn't care either way lol

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  18. The course looks like so much fun. Congrats on the ribbon.

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  19. Great course, love the individual jump pics! Congrats on a great round!

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    1. Yay glad you like the course walk pics, I love taking them then referring back when I'm getting ready to run my course. So much better to look at than just the map!

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  20. Congratulations on a confidence building round! It looked fun!

    I have to admit that I had to look up "bothy". After the second time you typed it, I figured it wasn't a typo. Down here in FL we just call that a little house, lol.

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    1. Haha so I totally googled "bothy" last time I was at Loch Moy too. They have the most ridiculous jump names that all pretty much amount to "house" but they just have to be special about it lol. So obvi I play along ;)

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  21. She just really likes brush :P

    You guys are rock stars!

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  22. Fun course! Give yourself some credit, you are coming back from an injusry and rebuilding muscle and strength. This is an impressive start to the season!!

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  23. Dat extended trot...whooo! That course looks amazing and love how she's trying to wiggle towards the larger fences. So glad you had a confidence building event and you both will be back to Novice before you know it!

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  24. Love the photos sequence through the water, you guys killed it!
    ☺☺☺

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  25. Yeah, the extended Arab trot is best at a 2-point. I can sit Q's controlled extended trot with a lot of effort, but her sashaying extended trot? The 10-12mph one? Um. No.

    Water series of photos is seriously amazing though. So game, so sassy.

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