Last Wednesday, I received a text from my trainer, “Thinking about going XC schooling on Friday afternoon. Are you interested?”

Excuse me? Interested? I was DYING to go. My immediate response was, “I’d love to!” Cue panic. See, I work 8 – 5, M-F, and I really don’t have extra vacation days sitting around this year for various reasons. Luckily, it was Derby week, and I live in Louisville, KY. As a result, the whole city shuts down at around 12PM on the Friday before Derby; however, I work at a company that is heavily tied to the stock market, which DOES NOT close on Oaks Day.

So what does a still-pony-crazy, 20-something do? She slyly asks her boss and the rest of their team what their Friday plans were (after she had already committed to the XC schooling with her trainer). Luckily, everyone seemed to have plans to either take Friday off or leave around lunchtime. Woohoo!

So on 1PM on Friday, I packed up my bags, changed into some of my nicer riding clothes in the bathroom, and hopped in the car on a mad dash to the barn. I got about halfway there before the thought of, “I should really eat” popped into my head. A quick stop at a nice gas station, 1 protein bar, and 1 giant bottle of water later, and I was off again! So eager in fact that I was at the barn about an hour before anyone else would be ready to go. Oh well, May could use the extra grooming time to try and get MORE HAIR off of her.

But then, of course,ย  my mind wandered, as I have never actually trailered off the property with my current trainer. Would she want May’s saddle on for the 3 minute drive? (no joke, that’s how far we were going) Should she wear her XC boots for the trip? Should I used the lead rope with a chain or without one? Etc. Etc. Etc. Turns out, I don’t really think my trainer cares much, as long as I have some kind of plan and logic. Ultimately, May shipped sans-saddle, but with boots.

When we arrived at the XC venue, I had another thought. My horse hasn’t been off the property since we moved there more than a year and a half ago. Would she be a total beast while I was trying to get ready? Nope. She was perfect. She hung out by the back of my SUV, eating grass while I tacked up. She even stood mostly still to let me get on. Then, she pranced her way towards the XC jumps.

We started at the water, an old nemesis of ours. The water was big and dark with whatever grows in those ponds. I put my leg on. I kept my eyes up… and May wandered into the water as if she has never had a problem with it… Cool horse. Real Cool. We splashed around a bit, as our XC partners for the day were my trainer on a thoroughbred and another boarder on her standardbred. Neither of those horses had ever gone XC schooling before. After splashing a bit, my trainer walked her horse out of the water and over one of the smallest log I had ever seen. It looked fun, so we followed.

We then headed to the main field with jumps, and we walked over a few more really boring logs. My trainer explained that, for the less experienced horses, we didn’t want to make XC aย big deal. It should just be like trail riding with things in the way that you go over. May and I hung out a bit, while they continued to familiarize themselves with the itty bitty logs.

 

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Then, my trainer told me it was my turn. She immediately gave us a small course of 4 jumps. We started at the bottom of a hill, did two jumps, climbed up the hill, jumped a jump, then proceeded on mostly flat ground to the last jump. Feedback of the day? Don’t throw your body with your horse. Let the horse come up to you. I am not sure I mastered it at all the whole day.

We ended up adding the red house to the mix, a small combination (that was set for a nothing distance, and then two slightly larger green houses (which were actually set to a real 4 stride line. May didn’t look at anything, took me to each jump, and cantered politely in-between fences. The biggest feedback was to try and get May’s balance back WAY before the jump, like 8 – 10 strides. This way, I could get the balance back and then allow up to the fences, instead of getting into a fight at the base. I think it worked!

 

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We only did it a couple of times as the big hills took a lot out of May, and the whole point was to just have a positive experience. We walked around a lot while the other riders put together a course with some smaller jumps and easier terrain questions. Once everyone was feeling especially confident, we went on a long trot to the ditches. Now, this venue is great because it has the baby-ist of baby ditches. I mean, this thing is about 12″ wide and 12″ deep. I pointed May at it, not making a big deal about it, kept the eyes up, my hands forward, and my leg on.

What did May do? She stepped in it. Just very politely, down into the ditch, and then up out of the ditch. My trainer just stared at me for a second and then said, “well, that’s not really right.” We tried again, with more leg, and she stepped over it. I even popped over the larger ditch a few times. We might have 99 problems, but a ditch ain’t one!

 

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Overall, I was over the moon with Ms. May. She, as usually, was the exact same horse off the property as she is at home. Have you been able to get off the farm and do anything fun lately?

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  1. Gymah

    That looks like it was super fun! I haven’t been anywhere off property with any of my horses recently, but I’m hoping to do a trail ride in the next couple of weeks.

    1. Emily

      It was super fun. We also got REALLY lucky and were done before some storms rolled in.

  2. nadsnovik

    First xc school of the season is always the best!! Looks like you and May had an awesome time!!

  3. martidoll123

    i am at work today bouncing in my seat waiting for 2 pm so i can leave this hellhole and head out to CC SCHOOL WITH SALLY. it is 60 degrees (will be 70’s later) and sunny with a light breeze. PERFECT PERFECT WEATHER.

    So yes i am going out today.

    I laughed out loud at May stepping into the ditch. LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

    She looks great though! YAY how much fun was that…..

    1. Emily

      Soooo much fun! I was really nervous to be honest, but once we took the first couple of jumps, I knew we wouldn’t be having any issues. She’s such a good girl.

  4. LOLOL stepping in the ditch! Oh May! I bet Amber would do that too haha. So glad you got to get out and have some awesome XC schooling! May looked like she was having a blast ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Emily

      I suppose it’s better than the alternative of leaping straight in the air over them!

  5. emma

    oh man, May legit looks like SO MUCH FUN out there! like she really loves it! also that related line between the green jumps looks really fun too – there’s only local schooling place around us that has related distances all over the place at all levels and i never really realized how much fun it is to school lines of xc fences and now kinda miss that we don’t have many like that at our own farm!

    1. Emily

      She is SO MUCH FUN hahahaha. I think I had to pick bugs out of my teeth from smiling so much. There’s no better ride than a game XC horse.

  6. draftmare

    I am curious what May is, because I just love how she is built!
    Sounds like it was a fun outing! I am surrounded by ropers now, who always trailer their horses saddled up, before then I the concept of trailing with a saddle on had never even crossed my mind. I much rather take the five minutes it takes to tack up than risk ruining my saddle or injuring my horse if a stirrup got caught back out of the trailer.

    1. Emily

      I was told she’s a QH/Belgian cross. I’ve seen some others bred that way that look similar, so it seems good enough for me. But who knows!

      I’ve trailered once or twice with a saddle on, but I keep the cover on and I cover the whole horse with a sheet. I do prefer for them to travel as naked as possible though.

      1. draftmare

        I can see the Belgian in her face. They seem to end up with pretty square but still handsome faces. Sydney has the same kind of head.

  7. Alex

    That looked pretty awesome. Glad that May was totally chill. The ditch made me laugh. You’re not wrong but you aren’t exactly right May!

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