I have literally been XC schooling more times in the past two months than in the entire previous two years. Have I mentioned Ocala doesn’t suck? Just checking.
I’ve had some introspective thoughts lately on how my relationship with Presto has been in such a transitionary phase over the last couple months, but that’s a post for another day since it’s gonna be a lot of me rambling about philosophical things. I’ll get there. For today, let’s just talk about our last big adventure – we went to Majestic again on Sunday! Basically if Steph is going schooling somewhere, I’m in. Miles are what we need right now, and we all learn a little bit more about each other with every outing.
With all the lessons and schoolings Presto has had over the summer, he’s getting very easy to take places. He loads well, he doesn’t put up much fuss (maybe just some light screaming) and he comes off the trailer pretty well. I mean is he dead quiet? Definitely not. If this horse was dead quiet I would take his temperature (I have actually done that more than once). But he’s not a deranged feral idiot.
Well ok when I first get on he may or may not be sporting an Arabian tail, and it may or may not take 5 minutes to work it’s way down to normal. It’s not bad though, you just have to really put him to work and get him to focus. Granted he’s been to Majestic several times now so that venue has perhaps lost some of it’s excitement for him. When I unload him there on the day of the horse show and there are horses and trailers galore, it will be a different story. That’s what neck straps are for, amiright?
But he warmed up pretty well, and we popped over a couple Novice and Training warmup jumps, then our little group headed out to the field. Our first area of focus was by the ditches, and we put together an N ramp, a T brush rolltop thingy, and the N half coffin. He jumped the snot out of the T brush (do we need to give the brush an additional 6″ of clearance?) and thought the rest was boring.
Then we went over to the banks, where we jumped down the N combo that we did last time, down bank to a house, then kept going through the trees to jump the BN trakehner (our first trakehner, aw), turned around and jumped back over the N trakehner, then back over the N bank line the other way, house to up bank. He got slightly feral back in the trees because 1: we haven’t really jumped any of the stuff back there yet, so there was *novelty*, 2: there was a man mowing, and 3: it’s closest to the road, which is fairly busy. So ya know… every step I could feel the hamsters coming closer and closer to the edge of their wheel. I had to really leg him up to the BN trakehner because he wasn’t even looking at it until the last second, he was too busy debating whether or not he should pretend to spook at the mower. And then at another point he spooked at a jump we were cantering past and strongly considered running away into the sunset. I feel like this is going to be how every cross country course goes with him for a while… the jumps aren’t the hard part, everything else is because he’s just kind of an excitable chaos machine. You have to ride every single step and constantly keep his brain focused.
That little feral moment did lead to the best part of the whole schooling though, when this award-winning commentary was captured on video. I laughed extremely hard when I heard it.
Steph had me jump the N trakehner again and then hang a left to jump a Training bending line. Idea being that if we made it a little harder, he would have to pay more attention. She was correct. Honestly he gets a little easier to ride when there’s more for him to do rather than just cantering a bunch of single fences.
After that we wandered down and jumped the T chevrons around to the T tire jump. I thought he might look at all the shadows under the chevron and didn’t really give a second thought to the tires, but naturally he did the opposite – didn’t think much of the chevron and thought the tires were terrifying. I mean, he jumped them, with encouragement, but he tried very hard to leap sideways through the bush instead. Not totally the right answer, but at least it was still a forward effort? I do like that about him, he always wants to go forward.
Then we jumped the N corner, just to jump a corner since we hadn’t done that yet. At that level they’re still small enough to where it really just jumps like a table, but ya know. Baby steps.
We capped it off with the water, coming up through the N way – house to water to up bank to chevrons – and then cantering around and back through the water, out over the T rolltop. Easy peasy.
He’s funny because throughout the course of one XC schooling it’s really like riding 3 different horses. You get the semi-feral one in the beginning, then a really lovely one, then he starts to get tired (mentally or physically or both) and requires a lot more leg and encouragement. Thanks Presto, always keeping me on my toes.
Overall though – super good boy. With every outing I feel like we definitely learn more about each other and are building on that partnership. It takes time, but it feels like things are definitely going in the right direction!