After a momentous amount of rain last week, I was pretty convinced that we were going to have a 0% chance of XC schooling. The footing near us was wet, deep, and overall just terrible. As a result, the XC venues in Louisville closed for the weekend. However, my trainer had gone to Stone Creek Stables in Lexington, KY a couple of times, and they were still open!
I will say, I was completely skeptical about the footing. We signed up, paid, and signed waivers online, so I kept checking my email, expecting to get a “course is closed” message. But it never came, and a little after 1PM, we pulled into the facility. The whole course was easily accessible along the side of a hill, and (probably due to the hill) the footing was just about perfect. Yay!
The weather? ALSO PERFECT. Low 80s, slight breeze, mostly sunny. Good times. A friend of mine was riding a new-to-her horse, so I quickly threw on May’s tack and tied her to the trailer while I helped my friend tack up. This is one of the things I appreciate most about my horse. We can go somewhere new after it dropped 10 degrees, and I can tie her to the trailer… and she will just take a nap. Literally.
Once I was ready to get on… I just found the nearest log, climbed up it, and hopped on. We trotted and cantered around a bit, and then it was time to get jumping!
Our first course was over a BN coupe, up the hill to a BN sized stacked log jump, left turn up the hill to go over a starter roll top, left over a starter stacked logs, and a final left over a BN elevated roll top. And… it was great. May stepped right up to each fence, and the most difficult fences were the smaller ones.
We then did the whole thing in reverse… where I kept wanted to slice my turns (not helpful), but it was fine. We finished that course over the Novice-sized white coupe… Where I failed to put my leg on or get straight. So May jumped right, which is both her tendency and a way to avoid the SLIGHTLY muckier footing at the bottom of the hill. We circled back around, and I jumped it better. Including tapping her right shoulder with my crop when she tried to blow me off again.
Our next course, in true fun style, took us over maybe my favorite combination of the day? I even have it on video. (first clip in the youtube video the bottom). We jumped over the raised roll top, then a right turn over the roller coaster logs. I haven’t done jumps like this in forever, but honestly, I just stayed balanced and May did all the work.
We then turned to come down the Novice roll top at the end. This BIG BRIGHT roll top was down hill… and… as I turned to it, I went “oh f*** that’s big”. Which is the point where Mandy went “you got it”. To which I responded…. “Jesus” under my breath. Honestly, on the helmet cam, it’s pretty hilarious.
I was SUPER happy at myself for the fact that I KEPT RIDING, and clearly… May really cared about it. And we cantered on to that coupe that was giving us issues. You can see May and I have a bit of an argument, as I insisted she NOT barrel through her right shoulder. We ended up jumping it a bit hollow (because mares) but we were straight. I will take a hollow jump to improve the straightness every day of the week.
We then turned to pop over the ditches. And pop we did. Ditches have always been May’s greatest strength. These were tough to see in the grass, but she had 0 cares. Seriously, all I do at ditches is try not to look in them myself. Sooo the perfect pony got all the pats.
The next course was back over the white coup the other way. But this side was chevrons. I… don’t think May and I have ever ridden chevrons, but I know you pick the middle of one and ride to that one. So that’s what I did. Since I was SO FOCUSED on being straight, it rode great. Go FIGURE.
We then got to gallop up the hill (WEEEEE!) and swing back to the ditches. Then we had kind of a weird bending line to another set of stacked logs. And… honestly, I just rode like crap. Instead of giving her a balanced turn, I just kind of pulled on the right rein (not how you steer). So we got a funky distance. Luckily I stayed back and May is perfect, so it was fine. Honestly, one ugly jump all day. We then looped back around to come slightly downhill to a little cabin jump.
After that, we took a bit of a break and headed over to wade into the water. May didn’t seem to care (shocker). We missed getting the first half of the course on video, but we did the stacked logged jump (that I had just screwed up), through the water to the little log out of the water, and then looped back into the water to jump the elevated logs in the water, then looped back to a little starter rolltop.
Fun fact, I have never jumped May over something coming out of the water nor into the water… nor a jump that was COMPLETELY in the water. She did hesitate going to the log OUT of the water, but I widened my hand and kept my leg, and she jumped it fine. Hilariously, we had zero issue with the jump IN the water. And then… she just kind of Meh’d over the little roll top. No real surprise there.
Our final little course was jumping over the log INTO the water, looping around, jumping the logs in the water the other way, and then coming around and up a little bank. My thoughts coming to the first log? “Keep the canter bouncy. Lots of impulsion. Straight. Baaaaaalanced.”
May’s thoughts? “KOWABUNGA”.
I couldn’t enjoy the trip through the air. All I could think was “DO NOT TRIP IN THE WATER” (as horses are prone to do when they pull stunts like this.) But it’s May, so it was fine. I didn’t want a repeat IN the water (where such a move would be even less advisable), so we got a close distance in the water. It rode fine though, and we finished by bouncing up the bank. (oh and Greg is my trainer’s horse… hence her thanking him…)
So… there we go. We jumped all the BN stuff. Some Novice stuff. And some undersized questions that would show up at higher levels. And it was fun. And it was fairly easy. And I really, really love this little horse.