Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 4: Cross Country Party

Now, we were the LAST GROUP to go….which meant that everyone else got to be on the Marguritaville Express, and we had to work. Sigh. So while the other adult clinic members drank and listened to Abba, Rainey put us through our XC paces.

Rainey started the lesson by telling us she doesn’t like to school XC, mainly because it doesn’t really prepare them for the conditions they’ll be running under—that is, they won’t have their “blood up,” negotiating in the moment, while thinking forward. So after warming up, she had us do a series of fences.

Some horses are ok with schooling fence to fence, and that’s fine; but most are better when on course, where they can be forward, finding their rhythm and balance.

She also says she never schools the big, scary stuff (citing John Williams), because they need the “blood up” to negotiate these. It’s not fair to make them do it w/o that context.

“But what about those of us who need it for OUR confidence?” I asked.

Rainey suggested schooling with a lead horse, or, better yet, foxhunting. Sigh. I wish we had a hunt close by.

We warmed up over some smaller fences, and of course, PC had to be squirrely at the first couple. But once he realized we were going to go over multiple fences, he got SO much better.

Now, I asked to be in the Training group. But DANG these were big fences!

We started out going over the first five jumps of the T course (with perhaps one N jump thrown in), including a very BIG looking table, and a pimple jump. Very exciting! PC rocked He LOVES jumping bigger.

It’s a blessing to have a horse who’s looking for the next jump.

Rainey asked: “Do we want our horses ‘on the bit’ on XC?”

No. It’s harder for them to breathe, and their vision is impaired, since they can only see straight down in front.

I’ve got some things to work on, though! First and foremost is this: I cannot solve ANY problems with speed. I know somewhere in my subconscious, I’m thinking “if we’re fast enough, he can jump anything!” But a good, balanced canter will beat a strung out gallop every time. Good canter = good jump.

Have a plan when you land.

My arms still come up over jumps. I need to keep them lower in XC, and quiet.

Leave him alone before the fence!!!! Three or four strides out, I need to let him jump it. My job is to set him up correctly. His job is to focus on the fence, and if I mess with him, he’s distracted.

Make sure I slip my reins on drops, ditches, and sometimes in water.

Going up a hill, I need to push to get him under me; going down, I need to tug a bit.

If I need to slow my horse, I should sit (half-halt) for an uber second. Otherwise, I’m enabling him to keep going fast.

Make SURE I get off his back between jumps.

Make sure my horse is in front of my leg. Sometimes PC stalls in front of the jump (when he’s behind my leg). I have to remember to use my leg like I was counting: “one! TWO! THREE! He needs increasing encouragement before the jumps, not just a holding leg, esp. when it’s an intimidating looking jump like the trakehner or the coffin.

Look at the terrain! See how the jump fits IN CONTEXT. That means not only where you’re going, but also where you’re coming from. It’s good to know where you’ve been, both in XC and in life!

No comments:

Post a Comment