Of course you may be thinking, "Wait, didn't he school at Loch Moy that one time? And what about the other day at Tranquility with all those other horses?"
And you wouldn't be wrong - both of those maybe technically count as cross country outings, and the horse did in fact jump at least one (itsy bitsy) xc fence on each occasion. But today we're talking about our first true lesson - and an outing in which Charlie jumped multiple itsy bitsies. Distinctions, y'all. They is important haha.
|bc riding with friends is the best|
Both the other horses are mostly confirmed at most of BN (one is ditchy and the other is iffy about water) and school N with some regularity, so both were perfect baby sitters for showing Charlie how it was done and giving him leads over his first few fences.
(Hilariously tho, Charlie's actually the oldest of the bunch, just by far the greenest. Birdie came off the track as a ~4yo and has been under saddle for just shy of 2 years, I think. Bella never raced and has been under saddle the longest. Tho I think Bird and Bells might be about the same age?)
|itsy bitsy brush box!|
The method worked well for me too, bc I was basically useless in the saddle lol. It's just.... well. It's been a long time since I've worked on cross country. Same story, different day, right? It's just going to take time for me to get my own sea legs back. One step at a time tho!
|isabel always loved this jump. charlie did too - says it looks tasty!|
We had one oopsie moment at a jump we attempted without a lead - the small, hay-covered box below. Charlie kinda sputtered to a halt to inspect more closely, then popped over no problem. I'm cool with it.
|maybe that's what he was checking with the hay bales too? whether he could eat it instead of jumping it?|
How he managed to pull his legs over the coop and save it is completely beyond me.... But save it he did. Good boy.
|pictured: NOT dying over the coop. and i refuse to nitpick my position in any of these pictures bc dammit, it kept me safe in a crash and i'll take function over form any day (tho hopefully form will come eventually!)|
|who remembers this rolltop? also pictured: everything getting better when we started cantering fences|
And that's kinda when something *clicked* for me. I had not yet at that point just let the horse move out across the ground - we were constantly starting and stopping, and I was doing an awful lot of holding. Plus his trot just is not very good yet. It's not super balanced or even from side to side, especially on terrain.
So that was definitely a useful feeling for me. I had been thinking that trotting in was our best bet - but my new game plan is to really just let the horse canter. If he gets strong or strung out, sure, we can come back to trot. But for the most part, canter is our friend.
|yup, that looks like a happy horse to me!|
|brand new water hole!!! twas deep but he did a good job. he also tanked up drinking from it lol|
|wheeeee logs <3|
I got better as I went, tho more mileage is definitely needed for both of our benefits haha. Like I told Brita, I should probably be out doing rides exactly like this every 2-3 weeks right now, if not more often.
The video is a little longer than I usually like for blog purposes, but I'm happy to have it for the purposes of documentation. Plus, for your viewing pleasure, it's all action and is a combination of helmet camera footage and the iphone footage Brita snagged when she wasn't otherwise providing leads over fences.
And of course, there's also gratuitous slo-mo of our splat moment at the coop. You're welcome. (pro-tip: turn on volume for the full body-slam effect)
As a rider, I've got the basics too. I need to keep reminding myself of this. They're rusty and dusty, and I need to loosen the fuck up. But I do actually know what I'm doing. I've got the skills, knowledge and experience. Even when I'm feeling down on myself as a rider, all I have to do is look at this horse who is rising to every new challenge with confidence and gusto. He's all the proof I need: despite it all, we really are doing fine.
It feels good, y'all. Finally.