Am I the only one that’s like “oh thank god, cross country”? Not that we’re super great at XC either, but after stadium day I was looking forward to something that I was a little less shit at.
As we started warming up Ashley was on us right away with some of the same things from the day before – move the horse around, play with opening and then shortening the stride using seat and leg, keep them straight in the shoulders, etc. She still wanted to see the horses stay in the outside rein, and she wanted quicker and easier adjustments to the size of the stride and the balance of the horse.
I didn’t know it at the time, but a couple weeks ago at Texas Rose they had someone (or a couple someone’s, I dunno) out there on XC judging us for the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. I had no idea, so when they emailed my score sheet I was like wtf is this. On one hand it was pretty cool to get some comments, but on the other hand there was literally no context given as far as what a good score is, and you don’t see anyone else’s score so you have no idea where you stack up in comparison. All of our scores were between 7.5 and 8, but like… I have no idea what that actually means. Really most of the takeaway that I got was that they told me to shorten my stirrups (which I meant to do before XC and totally forgot) and that we looked competent (LOL). I like the idea of the technical merit award but without any context the scores are kind of useless. I did remember to shorten my stirrups for XC day of the clinic though, so… thanks?
We went through a couple little warmup courses, which were fairly uneventful. Mostly feedback about keeping the balance and not letting the shoulders drift around turns and keeping the horse straight. I in particular really have to be there with a strong leg when I half halt from the seat so that my horse keeps coming forward instead of getting too up and down. Then we moved on to a little course, the toughest line of which was chevrons to the water, because it didn’t line up well and the approach was wonky. You basically had to come straight after the chevron, then rock them back, square the turn, hang a right, and then you had about two strides before jumping into the water to get them straight. I think I got yelled at once for letting him get too long and not keeping the power in the canter, which… that’s significantly less than stadium. I think I even got a few “good”s. Hell hath frozen over.
From there we moved on down the field to a combination that was a chevron, bending line to a faux-corner (made of stadium jumps). That got thrown into a couple of courses, riding it each way. It was a little bit of a forward distance when we jumped the corner second, but a whoaing distance when we jumped the corner first. That line worked out okay for me both ways, but we had to redo another bending line of smaller fences (ahem… twice) when I didn’t do an adequate job of changing the balance with my seat and leg in the middle of the line. Again, I need to be a bit more clear and effective, and not be afraid of really CHANGING the canter around, without going to my hands to do it.
After that we jumped the coffin line backwards, which rode really weird, but Henry is a champ so he powered through it like no big deal. The rest of the group had a lot of trouble here, I think because their horses are just a little lookier in general, which made the distances come up weird. Henry is definitely an easier ride in those situations.
Overall it was a good day, and I got some stuff to work on that I think will really help us in some of the combinations that we see at Training. I really appreciated that at the end Ashley went through all of us individually and recapped for us, telling us what we really need to focus on when we go home. It was a good review, especially considering my brain was reeling from everything that was thrown at it. So we will work on those things, and hopefully by the time we see Ashley again we will suck at least a little bit less.