Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gettin' Dangerous!!

It is my 666th post!! Omg. I was going to do something silly with it, but XC PICS ARE IN(!!!!!!!!!), so y'all get to see those instead.

Jump 1
The first (and last) jump on the course was this tiny little coop. When I walked the course, I thought, "Oh, a nice little inviting jump to start with." Then I realized the whole course was in kind. Hm... Well, now we know to push a little harder next time.

We came out of the start box, got our canter right away and popped over this like nothing. I always remind myself to ride the first fence so nothing untoward happens, but Cuna was totally nonplussed.

The second jump was the blue barrels. Cuna got a little crooked to them, but I insisted and he's way broke, so we hopped over and were off to the first gallop stretch. This was where we'd find out if I had anything close to enough brakes.

Answer: yes. We had this lovely little maintainable gait that let the spectators observe just how dashing Cuna looks in chocolate. He's rocking the black boots, but really folks. It can't go on.

The only bugaboo was that my course plan accounted for Cuna being super strong and me needing to swing wide and make a circle to get him back under control. He was super manageable, but I rode the wide line anyways. Because he is a MACHINE out there (and I was casual about giving direction), he just locked on to the novice jump we were cantering by. Ooops! I pulled him off it, and he gave a dramatic leap away as if to say, "Oh MY GAWD!!!! WHY did you almost let me JUMP that??"

Goofus. <3

Tidy. Cute. <3

He really didn't have to "come back" around the turn to fence three because he was already going so nicely. This is the jump that scared the crap out of me with Izzy and looked "rolex sized" when Cuna and I came and schooled here a month or so ago. Now? Yeah, not so much. Even with Cuna taking a tidy leap over the teeny fence, we were rather unimpressed.

Jump 4 was the drop, which is really not that interesting to look at. The important part is that I didn't want to rocket off the drop, so my course plan involved bringing him back to a trot so we could place nicely off the bank.

That was also on my last course plan and trot was never achieved.

Here you go. Photographic evidence that Cuna in fact can trot on an XC course.

Ears pricked! 

We had a swooping right hand turn after the drop to a ramp, one of the bigger jumps on the course. Let's be honest: it still didn't phase me and since it was after we'd already established a rhythm, I knew Cuna would take it in stride. This whole "trained horse" thing is amazing. Really. Y'all need to try it at least once.

Cuna skipped over it and we were on to the next field!

Cantering over it

Jump six was the most solid thing on the course, a log pile. I made sure to ride like an XC jockey--sit in the tack about 3 strides out, keep leg and hand steady, stay a little behind. You can see I kept my heals down and upper body open. Cuna jumped like it was nothing.

Already looking for 10

Jumps 7 and 8 were in the far field. One was a coopy/rampy thing that was probably max height (a whole 2'7") and the other in that range, but a log pile. They barely even felt like speed bumps. We jumped the big log pile back into the main field and headed for jump 10.

We actually shared fence 10 with the intro BN riders, so it was a pathetically tiny double log that I almost brought Cuna back to a trot for just to be sure he actually saw it. It was also the jump that Izzy and I wrecked over. I can say any issue I had with that jump is officially over. Total non-event.

Yep, non issue.
Fence 11 was actually the most challenging jump on the course. It was a long, steady downhill to a max height coop. There's nothing inherently difficult about jumping on a slight downhill, but I don't get to do it a lot. Thus, I knew the theory behind the ride, but have very little practice.

I half halted before the turn, kept my shoulders back, my feet a bit out in front, and my stirrup leather vertical. Cuna let me ride him positively to the base, and it was perfect.

It wasn't a difficult jump, but of the whole course, I am most happy with how I rode it. I made a plan, stuck to it, and things went great.

On to 12!! We now had to jump the blue barrels backwards. I wasn't concerned about the jump and my arms were actually still attached to my body (thank you giant bit), but my lungs felt like they were going to explode!! Yikes. Need to do some more conditioning on the human side. I sent Cuna to the jump and we cantered along and popped over. Seriously. It felt almost too casual.

Cuna: "Herp derp. Now what?"

The last fence was just the first teeny coop jumped backwards. On my coursewalk, I decided the only potential problem at this point would be taking it for granted and forgetting to ride. As such, as we cantered in, I kept a strong kept with my leg ON and let him know I wanted to go OVER THE TEENY JUMP in no uncertain terms. He may have thought I was a bit over the top about it, but he popped right over and we hand galloped across the finish line.

I was thrilled with Cuna, thrilled with how I rode, and not that excited about the course. I mean, it was a perfectly acceptable for that level of course on decent footing. The questions were fair and the judges quite good.

It's just... the Old Man Horse has brought me so far even just in the last month that I found the whole thing a little underwhelming. I would never have believed in February when I first started riding him that he could take me this far in this short of a time, but the truth is that I was/am itching to try out the novice jumps. They looked more fun, maybe just the right amount of challenge.

In the back of my head, I was hearing Stephanie talk to me this spring when she said, "You are capable of jumping a 3' course and you're afraid of crossrails." It was when we were discussing selling Ms Izzy, but it's stuck with me. I know I'm not the be all and end all of riders, but I think I'm finally ready to move up.

 So of course, I did the smartest thing possible. The following morning I texted Steph that I wanted to go faster and jump bigger jumps. We're now on the lesson schedule for tomorrow. Can't wait!!

All y'all are just jealous of my old guy

Aimee and Cuna, moving forward.


  1. So jealous! He looks like a blast to ride! Looking forward to hearing about the next step with you two!


  3. Awesome all around - you guys look awesome, awesome pics and of course, a totally awesome horse! Congrats!

  4. Woohooo!! You guys look great!

  5. I love how you're like, oh, a big solid jump, no problem!! What a difference from the old Aimee! I love it.

  6. Girl, you have come so far. Congrads for such a positive, forward-thinking ride!

    As for trying out those Novice fences... I always used to walk the course that was the next level up after I had finished my own course. I remember looking at Novice level fences when I was first going BN and thinking "HOLY CARP, I could never jump that!" A few more rounds at BN and the 2'7 fences were looking awfully boring, while the Novice course looked like way more fun. That's when I knew it was time to move up.

    Sounds like it might be about time for you to start thinking ahead... ;)

  7. Your position is looking rock solid - very well done! And, you are having fun...bonus!

  8. Great recap and loved the photos!

    It is so much fun to read about how happy you are jumping Cuna and competing. Your riding is looking amazing, too, and I am sure that this is no coincidence.

    Confidence breeds competence!

  9. LOL Herp Derp!! What great pictures and best of all, you are having so much fun!! I love that Cuna! :)

  10. Oh my gosh! SOOOO jealous! He's a rockstar! I said this in your last post, but I am so happy for you guys!! I can imagine what it feels like to do all that without worry and I'm just thrilled for you!

  11. I love his adorable tucked legs over the scary "rolex sized" jump! He's so cute!! I'm so happy you found him and that you two are such an awesome team. Your confidence has grown soooo much with Cuna. :D I can't wait to hear all about your first Novice course. It sounds like you're totally ready. :D

  12. Every moment of that first successful cross country round will be forever etched in your memory. You deserve to cherish it and smile every time you remember.

    Well done!! *S*

  13. This whole post made me so happy to read. !!!

    It also made me a little jealous. Maybe we can swap horses for a couple months? You can fancy prance and I can go jump the jumps!???

    1. No swapping, but if you're super nice, I -might- let you ride him. ;-)

  14. You guys rock. Totally awesome. You looks great together.

  15. So i just came back and reread about your awesome HT. I noticed I didn't comment and am fairly certain because you had the word verification on at that time and my tablet will not let me comment with WV. So i have to say that I am was and am so happy for you and Cuna. You never let your fear make you give up and it has paid off. You've come a long way baby!


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