It was so awesome to go XC schooling at Poplar. It’s the very first place that Gus and I ran XC at a schooling show. We’ve come a very long way since then. If you’ll remember, I was terrified of a itty bitty little tadpole table. And, okay, they use that table for the BN course all the time but still. It is tiny. Now I see that table out on course and think, what was I scared of?
It’s all perspective, right?
And now that I’ll be running Novice my trainer has to find a way to push my limits and still maintain my confidence. It’s not an easy task but she’s pretty amazing. She has complete faith that Gus and I can do this and that helps give me faith that we can do it too.
For example, once through our warm up there is no easing into higher fences, we start riding the Novice fences right off the bat. It’s almost like she’s not even giving me a chance to over think. Don’t worry. Just do it. And so that’s what I did.
The questions started easy. Single fences, long distances. Slowly we added related distances, tighter turns, more terrain and little courses. I was thrilled that Gus didn’t even peak at the ditch or the drop, even though I was slightly terrified of the later. Each fence and combo under us made me a bit more confident.
A lot of it really is time and the right frame of mind. And, of course, the right horse. Gus is becoming confident too and is much braver than he used to be. He might look at a new or scary jump but he’s also willing now.
So one new fence after another. We’re on our way!
Let’s address the elephant in the room: I’m moving up to Novice at the Tryon Hunt Club HT in October.
Moving up has been a goal I have been working towards since I ran at Poplar last May and something we have been working towards all year. It really felt doable after we ran around Stable View’s huge BN XC course. Seriously, that was a beast and, while not every fence was perfect, I had a blast and walked away feeling so confident. Novice was in my sights and plans were made.
Then my life went to pieces and I stopped riding. I even stopped taking lessons for a while. I didn’t really know how to have fun anymore. But then I got a new job with a significant pay raise and I started taking lessons again. Better yet, I started wanting to actually ride. And so I put my entry in for Tryon Hunt Club HT and selected Novice. Deep breaths!
And Gus and I have never been more ready. Well, okay, maybe we need a lot of work on our dressage (seriously, I am so over it!) but we are jumping big and fast and confident. I am ready to be back out competing and I am ready to turn it up a notch.
Since Area III Champs I have gone XC schooling at Chatt Hills twice and blogged about neither. Both times we’ve gone LT has stated that the goal for me is to “continue being confident” but truthfully, the real goal was to jump bigger and better. She’s sneaky like that.
But, I was successful at both goals during both sessions. Not only did I jump confidently and strongly, I also tackled some bigger questions. The big success for me was jumping my first corner. It wasn’t the fact that it was a corner that was bothering me, it was the fact that it had been the C element in the championship training course just a week before.
Gus of course thought it was no big deal. I’ve got to remember that I have a different horse under me than I did at the beginning of the season. He’s not confirmed by any means but he’s confident now and he loves his job. Still cautious but more than willing to work with me now.
After jumping all the novice fences and even a few small training questions successfully, I was feeling a lot better about this whole XC thing. My goal is to move up to novice soon and this first XC session went a long way to making me feel like that wasn’t a stupid idea. The only thing I was still worried about were down banks.
Every time we have gone out XC schooling, we have gone down banks. Every time we have gone XC schooling, Gus has balked at going down the banks. This first time schooling after Area III champs though was the worst I’ve ever ridden. He hit the breaks hard and it was a battle to keep the leg on an wait on the edge for an explosion. It came, eventually, and we went back around to keep schooling it until we weren’t stopping at least. It was never pretty though.
So I was a little worried when LT has us go up and down a bank complex without doing the down first. But I put my leg on and Gus quietly slid down the bank. And then we did it at the trot and he quietly slid down the bank. Then we cantered it and he quietly slid down the bank. Miracle!
It feels a lot better to slide down then it does to jump off the bank…