I almost started this post by saying that this was the first time I had been able to take Gus for a real XC schooling with coaching. But then I remembered we have done that before with Stephen Bradley. Oops! This is the first time with New Trainer though, so that counts. Right?
The story of how we actually ended up at Ashland is kind of funny. We were supposed to go to Poplar to school which would have been perfect since I have a schooling voucher from when our XC was rained out. Then New Trainer found out that Poplar had already put away a bunch of their jumps and since the whole point of this was for her to school her 1* horse, she came up with a new plan: Aiken. I was not really looking forward to the drive up to Aiken so I wasn’t too upset when Hurricane Matthew came and ruined those plans too. Finally, we decided to go to Ashland, which is local and has smaller versions of a lot of questions. It may not have been what she needed originally but it would be great for the green beans.
We ended up being out schooling for almost three hours, way longer than we realized. While Gus and I both started with a ton of extra energy, by the end, it was a push for both of us to get over the fences and we called it a day before I started getting refusals from anything other than my bad riding.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The water was no issue. Gus used to be terrible about going through water but I have always made it a non issue but also have not allowed a no. Going forward and through the water means the pressure comes off but going backwards means I put the pressure on. This was a pain at first, but now I have a good boy with the water.
Most of what we did with the water was going through and then riding to a fence a few strides out.
We even did a bank into the water!
The down banks were where we really struggled. Gus did not like them and it took us several times over the baby bank for him to get the idea of sliding down. Eventually we moved to the bigger BN/N bank and thankfully Gus was very willing though still not happy. I’m going to have to go back and do a lot of practice on my down banks.
Thankfully the up banks were no problem for Gus. Me on the other hand… yeah, we need to work on that.
The question I was most worried about were the ditches. I have never ever done a ditch. Never. I mean, I walked over the faux ditch at Foxberry but that is not the same as doing a real ditch. New Trainer walked us through how it should be and got us walking over the baby ditches. Before long, Gus and I were both going over them like they were no big deal. As long as I keep my eyes up and shoulders back, we should be able to conquer these ditches.
When we were over working on ditches, New Trainer had us do a small series of fences. We came in over a ditch, turned right to a small hanging log, back around to a coop, and then over a trakehner that was in the shadows.
We had no issue with the ditch, or the small log but when we came around to the coop it was HUGE. Hard to tell in the pictures but that was actually probably a novice level coop. I sat up put my legs on and said we are going over. We did. It was awesome.
Then we came to the trakehner. Gus was having trouble reading the question and was generally unsure because, again, it was big! He started hesitating a few strides out and I put my legs on. He paused at the base of the jump and I dug my spurs in. Gus lunged over the fence. But we did it. And then we did it again.
I’m really proud of some of the things we accomplished at this schooling. There were definitely some hard questions for us and there were some fences that really scared me. I tried to ride boldly to every fence and I think that helped both of us. I have a lot of technique issues to work out but those will come with time and more experience.
The plan is to go to the Chatt Hills schooling show in November. I need to see if I can get enough of my act together to make that worthwhile. What with all the house renovations Gus has sadly taken the back seat. Hopefully though that will change soon!