Finding Holes

For a few weeks now it’s been on my calendar to take yesterday off for XC schooling. Trainer always teaches at the “local” (ie 2 hours from me) venue on Wednesdays, but since it’s often hard for me to get off work during the week, I rarely partake. But I have 32 vacation days to use this year, which will be damn near impossible, so I’m going to start taking a Wednesday every month or so. Even though I’ve been sick, I didn’t want to back out of my plan, so I loaded up and away we went.

I’m not really sick anymore, but I’m still super weak and get tired incredibly fast. I had to rest in the middle of tacking up, and was pouring sweat. Why was it almost 90 in February? By the time I got on I was already exhausted. We decided to keep it very short/simple and just head back to the Irish bank, the only element we’ve really had trouble with. As soon as I picked up my reins to warm up, Henry was raring to go. He knows what we do at this place.


After I was done getting dragged around the field warming up, we walked back into the woods, hopped over a few small fences, and then started breaking down the Irish bank.


First we walked up onto the Irish bank and just walked down the shorter drop repeatedly. Here’s where I should back up and say that down banks have always been Henry’s one Achilles heel on XC. The only 20 on his entire record is from a down bank at his very first show. He’s never really understood how to drop down them. Instead, heΒ decided early on that the solution is to leap.

Exhibit A from 2 years ago

He’s gotten a bit better about the overdramatic leaping over time (and god have we ever worked on it ad nauseum) but he’s still never really properly dropped down a bank in his life.

showing Trainer his leaping skills last summer

It hasn’t really caused an issueΒ before and I think we all figured that over time as he got less green, he’d figure it out. But this stupid Irish bank at Pine Hill really brings the problem front and center… I don’t know if it’s the fact that there’s an up bank and then immediately a down, or if it’s just the fact that the down bank is so huge, or the fact that there’s a log on top, but he does not like this thing. He really doesn’t want to jump off of it at all, and when he does, he kind of scrapes his feet down over the log and then pushes off, leaping WAY out. It’s incredibly awkward.

Even as we built it up slowly for him yesterday, from walking off the short one, to trotting off the short one, to putting the whole thing together (a million times) it became really clear that he just does not understand the question. He doesn’t understand and he’s not confident. Honestly, he’s never understood down banks, he’s just gotten by up to this point because no question he’s faced has been very big or complicated. We’ve found a pretty big gaping hole.

super good at jumping little tables, though…

So next time we’re going to just go out and lunge him over all the down banks, especially all the big ones with logs on top (which seem to especially throw his brain for a loop) and see if he can figure it out on his own, without a rider in the equation. Poor Henny. His hamsters just can’t compute this one. On the plus side, I was super happy with how good his gallop felt, especially to the right. That weird 4 beat, lateral crap is gone.

And yes, I almost died yesterday in the heat. I was soaked with sweat and totally drained by the time we were done. Never get the flu. I do not recommend.

22 thoughts on “Finding Holes

  1. awww Henny looks so happy to be out galloping! sounds like a solid ride, made better by your not dying despite the heat and illness. good luck with the down banks too. seems like one of those things that’s easily missed or overlooked at the lower levels but that can suddenly become a BFD when things get a little bigger. better to have identified it and be able to address it directly tho! good luck!


  2. I’m on Henry’s side: that jump looks ridiculous. I think I’d flail going over it with my own two feet. Course thats why I don’t do cross country. I’m a wimp. I need a mount who just told me to STFU and hang on while they did all the work jumping around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. agree totally re the banks and the one jump per schooling show to skip πŸ™‚ LOL there is always one jump that worries the beejesus out of me (GRANTED I am not jumping big jumps at all). At one show this year there was a down bank for us (that came up to my hip) I am in INTRO! and the BN?? they got to jump up it. I kept saying seriously why is Intro doing a down bank that huge and BN is going up it? Makes no sense. I dont like banks but at least I understand the bigger levels having them πŸ™‚ LOL

      Course all Amanda really has to do is hang on and shut her eyes with Henry (He is so stinking cute and happy out there). Your trainer has a wicked sense of humor as we have seen before πŸ™‚


  3. 1 – that gallop looks lovely
    2 – gotta love those hamsters!
    3 – “Amanda found religion” I laughed out loud and now my kid thinks I’m nuts (well, maybe it just confirmed something)


  4. I had a mare that didn’t understand drops at first either, nothing like doing a training drop with a 3-foot jump up into the air before you go over the edge of the drop. She did over time learn to drop down vs leap up and off the drop thank goodness. I’m sure Henry and his hamsters will figure it out soon. I’ll trade you, 90 degrees for my 8 Fahrenheit (-14C) that’s -2F (-19c) when we factor in windchill, and that’s warmer then it was at the beginning of the week. I miss summer terribly till then I’ll ride bundled up in a zillions of layers and live the vicariously through your videos and pictures


  5. Back in my eventing days- coffins used to be the WORST. My sweet gelding was usually settled by the time we got to them (mid/end of team course), but schooling days were another matter. Funny how sometimes things just do not click-until they do! Keep up the good work!


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