Monday, June 6, 2016

still jumping the solid jumps!

Here's to another busy weekend! Does anyone else feel like time slips away at uncontrollable speeds as soon as the hot weather hits? Or maybe the heat just wipes me out? Idk. Whatever the case, we've been out and about doing all the things, per usual. But I have very little media evidence, nor energy to expound deeply upon anything.

could she be any more chill at the trailer?
So given all the busyness, I'm going slightly out of order, skipping ahead to this weekend's lesson at OF. Wherein it was too blazing hot and humid for trainer P to tolerate teaching one more lesson in the big bright sunny arena. P's solution? XC DAY!!

this pint-sized rider hacked out alongside our group to exercise her shetland, as they would be racing at Pimlico the following day. my adult self is incredibly jealous of her childhood!
This honestly didn't immediately thrill me... In my mind, we need to focus on stadium. And I'm wary of somehow managing to break the cross country button (which has never ceased working beautifully, despite our show jumping shenanigans).

And, possibly, I was worried by the prospect of body slamming a solid fence similarly to how I took down that oxer (the same one every time, ugh fml) at Tranquility just a few short weeks ago....

if i could just only ever see xc jumps through the lens of a camera, they would all always look small!
But what the hell, right? Trainer P wanted to escape the heat and let us all have a good time bopping around through the fields. Plus they recently moved in a whole bunch of jumps into the closest front field. So there was tons to jump in just one place - rather than needing to hike all over creation for individual jumps.

friendly N boat house
And we actually just stuck to those new fences - skipping out on all the logs and such that we've jumped a million times in this field and starting directly with the adjustable fence (in the earlier photo) and then just cruising around over all the things. Pretty much all the BN and N things in the vicinity.

Thunder loves it!
And guess what? Isabel felt great. It all seemed to just flow effortlessly. I worked really hard to stay soft and forward with my legs, hands and entire body language, and Isabel responded by moving up to whatever distance presented itself.

very wide but otherwise reasonable N picnic table
We added a flash to the new bridle configuration, since Izzy managed to get her tongue over the nathe last week. And she seems to go well in it. The flat work is slightly fussy, but that's ok bc we still do all our dedicated flat work in the KK. Mostly tho, I'm just happy to feel the horse carrying the bit forward. So I expect we will continue to use this setup unless she gives us a reason to change.

BN mushroom
Trainer P also identified a couple areas to improve in my own ride. That pervasive left drift is still a thing I'm not correcting (shocker shocker). And I also need to work on keeping my legs down and under me - maybe even slightly forward.

the happiest mare ever hacking out through the fields
She also warned me against getting complacent - or worse - letting the mare trick me into being too soft or backing off. Like if we get to one jump kinda messy, my inclination might be to quiet down and soften to the next one... when in reality I need to maybe ride a little more strongly so the mare knows I'm serious.

free for all in the water!
Only real bummer is that schooling the water at OF never seems to make much of a difference. Isabel is QUEEN of that water. She will do anything into and out of it. Cantering down all the banks is the easiest thing ever - I just hold the buckle, sit back and enjoy the ride.

But somehow it never translates to "new" waters - water we haven't seen or schooled before. She is only so good with this water bc she is so familiar with it. Meanwhile, no matter what we do here, water remains our weakest link on xc. Oh well. At least trainer P said they're planning to rebuild the complex, so at least it'll be "new" enough to maybe get Isabel thinking about it?

flash so itchy :(
Really, tho, this xc outing was all about cruising around jumping the jumps and having a good old time. It further reaffirms that cross country has somehow inexplicably remained unscathed by the issues that affect our show jumping. And also N cross country is still a breeze for the mare. Good to know!

I was happy to get out too, since we basically only ever schooled last year after some time away from competitions, or when we were planning to move up. Otherwise, we competed often enough to keep the mare tuned up to the phase. Obviously we're not competing right now tho so... schooling is useful for keeping us sharp(ish).

Which brings me to my question to you - for the eventers out there, how often do you school cross country? Or compete? What's your ideal schedule for getting the horse over some solid obstacles? Does it depend on the horse or where you are in your training with respect to your competition level?

45 comments:

  1. I've only schooled XC a handful of times despite having a ton of jumps available. But obviously I haven't been jumping much the last couple of months basically since Pongo. I think it would depend on my goals. XC still makes me nervous so I would probably need to school things more frequently if I was actually showing.

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    1. ha yea i hear ya about feeling like you need more mileage over it as a rider. it's funny - my feelings on it when schooling are very different than when i'm competing. when it's a flagged obstacle on my course, i *know* it's getting jumped. when we're schooling tho? i tend to be a little more like "ehhh we don't really have to tho" haha.

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    2. I'm so terrified about falling off that I'm like we are going over this thing no matter what. I'm pretty good at sticking with the horse in the forward direction but stopping or ducking... Plus who wants to fall into a solid object.

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    3. ha i guess i meant we don't always try to jump all the things. we very rarely have stops while schooling, i just don't always try all the things that we would do if it showed up on course.

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    4. Ah yes that makes much more sense. I don't jump with out someone to push me because I would never get past the height where the horse can step over it...

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    5. yea... i try to avoid it lately haha. our one unsupervised xc outing this year was a disaster lol

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  2. I always tried to get Houston schooled before a show. It helped to have the strange fences fresh to mind when we went to new places.

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  3. Woohoo!!! So glad you guys are still rocking and rolling on XC! I school XC a lot because I suck at it and I need the practice... but once we get more consistent I will be able to back off on the schooling.

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    1. yea i think you and i might feel similarly here. isabel seems pretty darn consistent at this level now, so i guess we just try to cruise? (and clean up that damn show jumping haha)

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  4. I wish I could school every week... I know people that do and they seem to progress a lot quicker. Unfortunately we're 2 hours from the closest venue, so that's not feasible. Even twice a month would be great but that rarely happens either. We seem to be able to get out on XC about once a month between either shows or schooling, probably about half and half. Much less than I would prefer.

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    1. very interesting. i've actually been kinda happy with the idea of once a month, either via competition or schooling (preferably competition unless there was something to work on...) but then again, we were at our peak last year when we were competing 2-3x a month so... maybe you're right about progress happening more quickly with more schooling? (if only the same could be true for our SJ, which we do usually 1-2x wkly....)

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    2. For me the ride on XC is so very different from the ride in the ring that it helps me tremendously to practice it more. It takes me about 1/3 of the way into a schooling to really click into XC gear again. I know if I was able to do it more often it would become a lot more automatic.

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    3. makes sense. isabel actually seems to really understand xc at a very fundamental level (at least for what we're doing with it) so getting into gear is basically automatic. i can see how that might vary from horse to horse tho

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  5. omg the tiny rider on the tiny shetland.

    i think its good you went out on xc. you need to jump around and have fun and remember its not all poop!!

    besides runkle, ive only competed experience event horses, so the schooling was more for me than for them. plus we wanted to save their legs, so i always went very sparingly. maybe 4 times a season, maybe. and more towards the beginning.

    im lucky, we're about 15 minutes from Flora Lea Farm so we go there, A LOT. with the exception of maybe 2 jumps, i have jumped every single thing there, starter to prelim. We're an hour and some from Fair Hill, so we go there a fair amount as well.

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    1. ooh i've never been to flora lea! need to go one of these days... but yea i'm with ya on mostly just getting out a couple times early in the season.. tho probably i could personally use a little more experience. all the same tho, getting out and enjoying it - whether for competition or schooling, is what it's all about, right?

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  6. I dunno, I feel like it might sort of make me feel better that it's not ALL jumps that are the problem? Like, it's obviously not pain related since she jumps XC so well.

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    1. oh yea, i definitely agree!! it's hugely reassuring to know that she still jumps *some* jumps haha, even if it's not all that i might wish lol. she's a smart cookie tho and doesn't want to crash into a solid jump the way she will a stadium jump...

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  7. Yay! So glad you had a good XC school :D And I think it depends on the level... Living in hunt land, I can go out and pop over a few coops every once in a while, and even have a small water/bank complex too - I hit this up at least once per week, even if I'm just making him do the small drop into water a trot just to remind him he can :). I definitely do a proper school before a competition to make sure all the gears work!

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    1. oooh i wish we had a small water or bank complex at our farm! it's so useful to just practice a little bit, even if it doesn't seem to make a difference for us in actual competition... we have streams and somewhat challenging trails, but it's not quite the same.

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    2. This is what I wish I could do. Gallop a few fences at speed and hop a ditch or a bank once a week.

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    3. that actually does sound pretty much ideal to me.

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  8. Yay for a solid ride! It's good to know you've still got it.

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  9. In the past several years, Trainer has held large group schooling (5-15 horses) at a local Pony Club grounds every other week from May/June through Sept/Oct. Yes, we were seeing the same jumps all the time, however, it did wonders for boring the piss out of nervous riders (ahem, me), so when we got to competition, NBD. This location's mini trial was usually a move up course for everyone since we've schooled everything so much. Trainer usually hauls out once a month at least to a place a couple hours away to school "real" xc (BN-P).

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    1. i would *love* to do that regular large group schooling - sounds like so much fun even from just a social perspective haha (not to mention fantastic for introducing horses to groups like that). we kinda feel that way about OF - like it's a home-away-from-home course that's perfect for pushing ourselves

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    2. I have definitely gone without a horse just to be social! Penn went just for the hauling/large herd of horses experience with zero jumping. Nervous horses can always get between two confident horses, or follow a confident one- on Mikey's last few trips, he was the leader! He was consistently a quiet down bank into water jumper- a perfect lead off for timid horses.

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  10. Yay for a good XC school!! Some of those jumps look like a blast!

    In 2015, I schooled XC 3 times on Moe in the form of 2 schooling shows and 1 hunter pace. The nearest course is 2+ hours away, so it just isn't feasible to go out there often. (Or ever, really.) He's seem a LOT of XC courses in his life, though, so it's not like we need tons of work on it. (Well, HE doesn't. I could use some help.)

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    1. lol Moe is such a champ! i feel like isabel is trending in the same direction as him, tho she has probably seen a lot less and could use schoolings to introduce new questions etc

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  11. Sounds like an excellent schooling, glad you guys just went out there and did it!

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  12. Envious of all your schooling opportunities! I've gone to a clinic once and a xc schooling once this year. Honestly, I most enjoy the ability to cover some ground and find a good pace. I feel like in a pinch we can simulate the jumps in the area or on the trail. Due to the terrain and price of land, finding room to gallop is our big shortcoming here.

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    1. i totally think jumping on the trail counts!! but yes we are absolutely spoiled here with so many options... some are better than others, but there's definitely no shortage! there are only a couple places to truly gallop at our own farm, and even then it has to be very short bursts, but there are places nearby.

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  13. Even if it wasn't the stadium experience that you were hoping for, it sounds like it was still great exposure!

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    1. i agree. obviously we need practice over the sticks that fall down... but any positive experience is a growth opportunity imo ;)

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  14. Glad you had a positive outing, and love that new brow band on her!

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    1. thanks!!! i'm loving the new browband too :D

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  15. Hooray for good rides! So I am feeling stupid, what is the difference? (Mind you, I have never jumped cross country) Isn't a jump, a jump, and what is happening differently in Izzy's mind or yours that makes the xc no big deal, but nice safe knock-downable jumps hard? Really hoping for the best for you and Izzy!

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    1. thanks! and don't feel stupid - i don't a difference would have ever occurred to me were i not experiencing it right now with izzy haha. the way i understand it is: when isabel refuses a stadium jump, she literally just plows right into the thing, crashes right through it. and it all falls down. probably doesn't feel fantastic, but obviously doesn't hurt enough to disincentivize her from continuing to do it.

      whereas a solid cross country jump - if she crashes into that, it *will not* fall down, she will. and i think she knows the difference. in other words, i think she has more respect for the solid jumps and will put in that little bit of extra effort to actually get over the thing instead of just quitting at the last minute.

      also, for whatever it's worth, my trainer P believes that horses inherently understand solid type jumps better than stadium jumps anyway. they are easier to 'read' for the horse than airy poles on standards.

      or maybe it's all in my head. i dunno haha. all i know is the same problems we have in show jumping do not extend to cross country!

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    2. Wow, yes that makes sense. Sounds like Izzy is way too smart for her own good!

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    3. ha right? my thoughts exactly lol

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  16. When I actually evented I was SO lucky to have XC on my farm in MO and then in OH about 20 min from me. Starter through Prelim. SO I jumped XC once a week. Yep, once a week. When I was in HS I competed twice a month, a schooling show and a recognized. In college I was lucky to hit 3 recognized a year and 3 schooling. Major bummer.

    Now, I want to hit 2 schooling a month if possible. One jump, one dressage...with B. Yankee's lease is doing 4 recognized and 4 schooling.

    Also, I too feel summer moves at the speed of sound.

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  17. 4 recognized and 4 schooling TOTAL, not a month, that read weird haha

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  18. I think Violet gets schooled once a week or so cross country, but that's because she lives at Rocking Horse. Before that we would go a few times in the spring and once or twice in the fall, because it was a 2 hour ride everywhere.

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  19. I'm glad Isabel was well behaved for your x-country excursion, esp since you were not the biggest fan of doing it at first!

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