Our annual XC school was an absolute blast. Tons of rain the night before meant soggy footing which meant Frankie and I kept it VERY low key, but we loved our glorified trail ride.
Just how low key was it?
WOAH THERE DON’T TRY TOO HARD FRANCIS
Literally we popped over a couple logs and then WALKED SO SLOWLY up out of the water. That’s all we did.
It was thoroughly delightful.
With our wonderful group of bays! (plus one token chesnugget). This group includes AT’s 4yo uber-talented baby jumper out for mileage, my ammy friend with her new horse playing around for fun, myself (duh), my friend with her super amazing shmancy hunter that is a MACHINE ON XC OMG, a junior on her newish eq horse, and another ammy on one of the saint-like schoolies. Everyone did something slightly different, but everyone had a blast and the horses all really enjoyed themselves.
We got out for a XC school this past weekend! I’ve been looking forward to this literally since the day I brought Francis home and spoiler alert: it turned out to be just as super fun as I expected it to be.
Sadly I have next to no media of the outing since our only ground crew was my trainer (who was busy actually watching us ride) and her 2nd grader (who is enthusiastic but easily distracted). So you’ll just have to take my word for it: Francis was perfect.
He bopped over everything with no urging on the first try every time- down banks, double up banks, water, logs, brush, benches, all of it. When some of the other horses got a little balky at the stacked logs going downhill, or the down bank into the water, or the log in the treeline- Frankie forged ahead as a lead for them. When I slipped my reins going down a bank, I didn’t worry about getting them back too quickly because Francis was happy as a clam to keep jumping anything in front of him.
I’m too much of a weenie to try anything too hard and this was a purely just-for-fun outing, so we stuck to mostly the teeny tiny jumps. I have no doubt Frankie could’ve done way more- maybe next time we’ll tackle some of the bigger combos!
He was brave and relaxed and happy the entire time, which meant that I was brave and relaxed and happy the entire time. I had bitted up a little to a slow-twist snaffle, but I really don’t think that was necessary. We would’ve been fine in the plain snaffle- after a few “sassy” head tosses during our warmup, he settled right down into his normal chill self.
My only real regret from this outing was that we didn’t capture more on camera so I can relive the fun and share with you all. It was the best feeling in the world to have so much trust in Frankie and enjoy him being an absolute pro out there.
Blue ribbon eq horse last week, XC superstar this week, and we’re heading to Zone 3 finals for the 1.15m High Jumpers at the end of the month. I’m thinking we really need to fit in a dressage lesson soon so we can cross another discipline off our list! I’d honestly really love to try a low-level (VERY low-level) HT with Francis at some point- in the spirit of Doing All The Things with him.
Maybe someday we’ll find something he’s bad at or we won’t have fun trying a new thing together. But I doubt it. 18 months in and I’m still just as obsessed with this horse as the day I brought him home- more so, even. Best pony ever!
So now that we’ve gotten him fully legged up into Jumper Mode, we’re switching the game on him!
We have one last show of the season coming up at the end of September. Our options were to do the High division (though points wouldn’t count towards anything since finals are over), try some higher classes (eh the courses get harder throughout the season, so now is a tough time to try that), or do something totally different. We went with the last option.
Francis will play Eq Pony for me! We’ll even do several flat classes *GASP*. I’m so excited to see what he looks like braided and all eq-y. I haven’t done anything besides jumpers in a couple years now, and Frankie has only done the jumpers with me- it’ll be interesting to see if we can transition a bit.
We just want to go out there and have fun trying something a little different. We always have a blast going to compete together, I have no doubt Frankie will be a superstar eq horse for me too. The tough part will be for me to actually ride well instead of clinging to my horse like a barnacle #noaddedvalue.
But wait, there’s more!
We’re FINALLY going XC schooling in October! I’ve been looking forward to this since I brought Frankie home. I’m not planning on doing anything intimidating because we all know I’m a ring princess, but I know Francis is going to have a total blast out there. If it’s half as much fun as when I took Addy out, it’ll be one to remember.
I think we’ll then wrap up our season with one of the local shows, where we’ll do the pleasure classes. You thought I was joking. I am not. I would really like to go toodle around with my pony and enjoy a low-pressure outing.
There you have in. In the space of just a few months, I will be taking my 1.15m High Adult JumperPony into the equitation ring, out on the cross country field, and bopping around the pleasure division.
Biggest pats for Best Pony who so happily carts my butt around everywhere I point him. I can’t wait to share our adventures with you all ❤
Sick of it yet?? Too bad! One of the moms there took some great pics and I just got access. I’ll have even more when the other girl finishes getting them off her camera! Enjoy a few more views of us having a ridiculous awesome time.
So as mentioned, my barn went XC schooling this past weekend. It was Addy’s first time on a XC course, and my first time doing anything remotely resembling XC since I was roughly 11.
Oh my gosh. I totally get it. I completely understand why you crazy eventers do it. I can see why now.
And Addy totally gets it too. My pony that HATES airy verticals (literally just a colorful pole) hunted down every jump and acted like she had done this a thousand times.
I don’t even know what else to say. This was so incredibly awesomely fun, my horse was definitely having an awesome time, and I’m still grinning about all of it. Water, ditches, banks, logs, all of it was amazing. I still stink at down banks (stupid jumping position muscle memory getting me into trouble), but it was SO. MUCH. FUN.
I’ll just let you see the video of all the fun elements we got to try, and you can see Addy’s first XC school for yourself. It goes in order from our warmup to the last element we tried. (HUGE thank you to manfriend, who spent several hours trekking after us over hill and dale to take these videos PLUS some awesome pictures. All this despite his allergy to horses. I know. He’s the absolute best.)
Seriously, my DragonBeastMare has returned to me. The horse that made me say “screw it” to my bank statements and dive back into this sport headfirst is back in action.
You may have noticed over the last two months or so that Addy and I have been riding the struggle bus. Nothing too crazy- she would get fast, or duck out, or sass me at odd times. All manageable things that we worked through little by little.
Well let me tell you: it is a night and day difference.
All ulcer-y behavior has cleared up and my brave trusting pony has re-appeared. She is, as always, a total DragonMare and has not magically turned into a slowpoke (thank goodness, I don’t know what I would do with that), but she isn’t tuning me out anymore.
When I asked for a collected canter: after much snorting and gnashing of teeth, we got a nice tiny canter. When I asked for the closer distance to almost every jump: no problem, she gave it to me. When I pointed her at the scary new coop jump she had been snorting at: carried me up and over without blinking. When my steering was vague and I turned her at a jump last minute: woohoo more jumps!
We’re having FUN again. We’re trusting each other again. I’m not holding-holding-holding to the base of the jump because she’s charging at it; I can soften up to the base because she’s got one ear flicked back listening to me.
I’ve certainly learned a ton over the last few months, but I won’t pretend I’m not thrilled to have my confidence-boosting-safer-than-safe mare back.
And what do you do when you have a safe happy mare that loved going out on a hunter pace? You take her cross country schooling!! We’re heading out on Sunday to play around and try some new things and I can’t WAIT! Somehow I think Beastly is going to absolutely love it.
Have you ever noticed a huge behavior change due to changes in your horse’s nutrition? And any tips for a first time XC rider?