Not sure if anyone remembers at this point, but we were originally entered to run our first horse trial of 2020 in April… Originally, the horse trial this weekend wasn’t supposed to be this weekend, and we weren’t supposed to be going. We were supposed to be going to a recognized horse trial at the KHP… as what was supposed to be our THIRD horse trial of the year, but in the year 2020, beggars can’t be choosers. So this weekend we are headed to a local, schooling horse trial!
Was that enough of rant?
Whether it’s a schooling trial or a recognized trial, cross country schooling needs to happen! So we packed up a group of us to run over and get some schooling in. My goals? Idk… run around and jump some stuff. Get in the water. See a ditch and a bank. You know, cover the bases.
I could go through everything we did… but the long story short? May was excellent. Having a saddle that fits us both makes a huge difference. And it was a blast.
We got on and warmed up in a large field. May felt good. Soft and listening and just kind of “there” with me. I felt pretty good, and we quickly got down to business. Our first course was over a smallish brush (maybe starter height), down to a very ugly BN log, and loop back to a little ramped table thing. The brush was easy, but May took a good look at the ugly log. Honestly, I just closed my leg, and she leaped over it. Then we flew over the table. WHEW!
Next course was similar. A little coupe, over a lattice box, and finishing over a table with steps in it. At this point, I was noticing a pattern. May was easy and listening over the BN and higher fences, but was a total pill to anything lower. The little lattice box? Probably a Starter question, and she just RAN UP UNDER IT. Before then being awesome to the steps. Thanks mare…
Of course, I kept forgetting to turn on my helmet cam, so I have footage of NONE of this. Oh well.
The next course, I do have footage AND helmet cam video of. We jumped over a little roll top, turned to a 3 stride combination and then turned right to come downhill over a skinny-ish table. Honestly, May nailed it. I didn’t ride great to the roll top (it’s tough to get that XC roll going), but I kicked her up and rode better to the combination. She went to fade right on me, but right leg and voila! three strides.
After that, we did a course with some bigger jumps. The same ramped table as course 1, but lopping left to the bigger red table with tires on it, and then a right turn to an elevated roll top. So two things with this course: 1. that red thing is probably the largest XC jump I have ever jumped. 2. that elevated roll top thing had a big, wide, light colored based on it that you couldn’t see until you were ON TOP of it.
She was awesome though. (How many different ways can I say that in one post?). The cross cantering to the red table caused us to fall a bit right, but she was honest and game and pinged right over it and the ugly roll top thing.
We jumped a couple more solid jumps before moving onto to the water. There was Novice level jump in the woods, but it was kind of on rocky ground. Given how hard the ground is and that May is barefoot, I figured it made more sense to just skip it.
At the water, we played a bit in and out of it before doing a course. First, we went through the water and up to the smaller house. Then looped back around to the same house and back in. It was fine… just didn’t rev her engine enough. The second time, we went through the water, jumped the bigger house, then jumped back to the smaller house and through the water. She was great… but REALLY over jumped the smaller house.
Oh… did you notice something between this video and the one before it? Like where my fly bonnet went? Hah… well… While we were in the other field, I was watching our baby starter team go. And May shook her head. And my WHOLE BRIDLE CAME OFF. In the middle of the field… I held the reins up as high as I could to keep her bit in her mouth and just started calling to the people on the ground with us. Luckily, they put the bridle back on, but I decided to skip the fly bonnet for the rest of the day. (AGAIN GOOD MAY FOR NOT KILLING ME).
Since water wasn’t an issue, we moved onto ditches! The little ditch was in the shadow of a tree, so we first trotted slowly over it. And, as May usually does when she is unimpressed with ditches, she stepped down INTO IT and then over it. UGH. So then we made a little course. Over the ditch, loop back over the ditch again, then a left turn over a coupe in the fence line and then up the hill to a skinny starter fence. (it is in the helmet cam footage).
So the ditches were no big deal. Mandy gave us the option of doing the smaller or the larger coupe. The larger coupe didn’t seem that intimidating, so I went for it. What I did not realize is that the ground fell away right before it AND after it. So it was actually a much bigger effort than expected. I had no reason to worry though, as May LAUNCHED herself over it, giving me the best feeling. Then proceeded to jump the starter fence like a monkey.
The last thing we worked on was the larger bank. Mandy told us to get a good rhythm going before we got there, so I circled through the woods to get there… you can laugh at me in the helmet cam. Because I DID NOT realize the branches were so low. And this is why I have a short horse. However, I do think we took the whole “get going” thing a bit too much too heart, and May ended up just running at the bank. Oh well, it was fine. Clearly she wasn’t over concerned with it. There was the option to do a couple more jumps, but I felt like May had been so solid all day that we could just call it a day. We had jumped a ton of stuff, and while she is in great shape, the ground WAS super hard.
Overall, I was WILDLY happy with the schooling. It was fun to start tackling some of the Novice questions, and it was even better to get out with some friends and enjoy our ponies. If you want to watch all the helmet cam footage, it is below!