Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pre-Show XC Schooling (Horsey Weekend Part 3!)

Sunday morning I hitched the trailer up fairly early to meet a friend of mine at Pipestave Hill for some pre-show XC schooling. This is a friend I knew from college and she has a new young horse that she's bringing along, so Pipestave was the perfect place to get both our horses over a variety of fences. Unfortunately, she discovered that her horse had a nasty hoof crack that morning so she ended up bringing her older mare, also named Maggie, with her for the outing. Her Maggie is an old pro and they have evented up to training level.

I hadn't actually ridden my Maggie since Tuesday at this point, so I was glad to have a little while to warm her up on my own before my friend arrived. I warmed Maggie up on a loose rein and then with a little contact, mostly at the trot. We did a canter in each direction and she settled into a really comfy and un-rushed rhythm each time - good girl! Aside from a soccer game on one of the lower athletic fields, we where the only ones there! Maggie was nice and relaxed. 
All to ourselves!
The ground was also looking a little wet from the rain the previous week (hence the not riding since Tuesday), but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as slippery as it looked. There was no slippage at all through the session!
Double the Maggies, double the fun!
When my friend arrived we headed down the hill to the XC course and started popping over some little jumps after trotting a few circles. Maggie went over all of the elementary sized fences with no problem. We did the little coop coming out of the woods (fence 3 at our last show there) where she hesitated, and she was a little skeptical once again but did go over it better. There's also a teeny tiny bank that Maggie and I went up and down for the very first time without a problem at all (good girl!) as well as a fake ditch (just some telephone poles on the ground with dark dirt in the middle, no actual hole in the ground) that she went right over without any issue. I didn't except her to have any issue there anyway, considering she tries to jump trot poles and dark puddles.
My friend and her Maggie
We made a big loop around one of the trails on the outside of the course which leads back in front of the athletic fields and around to the parking area. It was at a fence near the athletic fields that I ran into our first problem. There was a narrow fence probably around 2' high made from a wooden pallet that I thought would be good to try. Maggie decided that she wanted nothing to do with the fence and slammed on the brakes twice. I'm not sure if it was the look of the fence - a kind of airy pallet - or maybe the dead brush in the fence (though that would surprise me because we've practiced with a lot of random fillers at home), or perhaps that the grass in front of the jump was a little on the long side and she was skeptical of the take-off area. I have no idea, I'm just speculating and probably over analyzing it. I'd put my money on her not likely these pallet style fences though, since she's refused these before.
This is from earlier in the summer, not this part weekend, but it was the same style jump.

There we go.
So on the third try I got her over it...kind of. She actually ended up jumping more up than across and her back feet somehow took the jump with her and we busted it in half. Oops. My friend took a pic of it and said she'd let the event organizer know (she volunteers a lot for the event and knows everyone). I apologized profusely and offered my time, money, and an extra pallet that I have hanging around if they wanted help fixing it. My friend assured me it was ok, and that at least it happened before the event instead of at the event. Still embarrassed...

The next fence we came to was a wide, rounded coop and I was surprised when my friend told me that it could be used in the elementary and MBN courses - looked BN to me! I figured I'd better practice it in case I had to jump it at the show. Good logic, except for the fact that we had just broken a fence. Maggie refused twice again and then we got over it the third time with some assistance from my friend on the other side of the jump making me count how many fingers she was holding up.

We then went down the hill again and tried a BN sized coop where we got one refusal before getting over it. I then tried doing a slightly smaller one in height but it was a little wider and Maggie absolutely would not go over that one. At this point Maggie was really behind my leg and I think she was getting quite tired. I figured I shouldn't push her too much lest we break another jump, so we finished on a good note over a tiny coop.
Last jump of the day - are her front legs crossed??
Then we went for a quick splash down in Mill Pond and a short hack through the woods before calling it a day! I'm definitely happy that I got to get out and school once more before our last show of the season and also glad that one of my friends that l don't see very often was able to join me!
Lovely.



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