As I teased in yesterday’s post (sorry, it was just getting too long to fit everything in) Noodle kiddo and his sidekick Hangry Mare went XC schooling on Sunday!
It was a bit of a landmark occasion for me, since we were meeting Steph there for a proper, coached XC school. When I took him to Sweet Dixie a couple months ago with Hillary and another friend it was just a fun casual day, and I only hopped him over a few things. Now we have an actual trainer and have taken lessons and all that stuff, so ya know… first “real” XC school I guess you could say.
It’s a short hack from the parking area to the XC field at Magnolia Sands, and we let Gemma lead the way since I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this but Captain Chaos tends to cause Problems even when there aren’t any. If you let him lead he will 100% pretend to spook at things just because he takes extreme glee in watching other horses scatter and participate in Fuckery with him. So… Presto doesn’t get to lead.
We got out to the field with no drama (thanks Gemma – yes my chestnut mare is less dramatic than either of my bay geldings) and started warming up. Presto was a bit excited at first, as he tends to be, but he kept his head on. He wanted to spook at a few jumps around the edges of the field (he wasn’t scared, it was Fuckery… I can tell the difference) but I just kept my leg on and kept circling around the areas he wanting to be dingy about, and he settled.
We popped over a ditch and a couple logs while we waited for Steph, and walked through both waters. As soon as we started jumping things he settled more. That brain of his is just too busy, he’s always better when things are harder.
One yucky habit he has that I’m NOT a fan of is that he shows nappiness when having to leave the group in a setting like this. He wants to prop and (in extreme cases) pop his front end off the ground a bit and spin. What I’ve learned from prior outings is that if I nip it in the bud immediately and with decisiveness, it stops. So, when Steph sent us out to go canter some smaller fences and he decided to prop and spin, he got two good “I ain’t fucking playing” whacks on his bum. Fixed the napping, but he was a bit mad about it and wanted to ignore my half-halts at the next few jumps. Hard life being a noodle. He leveled out after that though, and we were able to get to business. Sometimes this horse has a lot of opinions, plus he’s 5 (which I call the “fuck you fives” because it’s literally the worst age) so he thinks life is real unfair sometimes and mom is really mean.
Once we had warmed up over some simple stuff we headed over to the bigger water, which was dyed a nice bright turquoise. Presto is good with water (I mean aside from the fact that if you let him put his head down so much as an inch you run the risk of him trying to lay down in it) so we strung together a jump before the water, then turned and came through it and jumped a little rolltop after the water. He was actually jumping really well, I’ve noticed over the past couple weeks that he’s feeling stronger off the ground and using his body a lot more/better than before. Maturity is a great thing.
Then we went over towards the crater and put a little course together over there – a small log stack to a little table on a bit of an angle, around into the crater and up over a blue house at the top of the hill, then on to a little lattice hammock. He was really super for all of that and stayed nicely balanced up the steep hill to jump nicely out of the crater. Honestly once he’s pointed at a jump he’s not hard to ride – you just have to keep him in front of your leg, keep your hands down, and keep the balance up. The jumps are the easy part for him, and he’s more rideable to the XC jumps than he is in the ring.
After that we went over and walked up/down then trotted up/down the banks. He’s not always the most coordinated going up it (shocking that 17h worth of gangly noodle finds all of his legs hard to manage at times) but he got better every time. There was some FuckeryLite the first time up it when he landed and pretended to spook at a banner on the fence. A kick and a growl later he was like “well you don’t have to be mean about it, I was just joking!” and that was the end of that. I swear, when I fall off this horse on XC, because it will happen, it’ll be because he spins out from underneath me pretending to spook at something stupid that he’s not actually scared of at all.
We let them be done after that since it was hot and we’d accomplished all we needed to. It gave us a few things to work on but also let me know that we’re on the right track. I left there feeling like he’s going to be really fun, and looking forward to actually getting to some shows this fall!