Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Denouement

Someone had to be group hottie
After the awesome that was Saturday, I was pretty pumped to ride Sunday. We still needed to learn about ditches and banks and I wanted to put more courses together. I woke up to bright sunshine and nearly bounced out of Ellie's house.

And a giant gust of wind hit me in the face. By the time we arrived at the facility, it was grey clouds, intermittent rain, and cold wind. Not little breezes--it was the sort of wind that makes you feel like you're going to blow over. Constantly, with gusts that were even worse.


If we'd been at home, I would have just gone inside and not ridden. Since we'd hauled 5+ hours out of state AND Ellie was on hand to document AND Courage really doesn't care about wind, I reluctantly got ready. By reluctantly, I mean I pretty much hid in the barn and whined until the instructor actually came in for a moment between lessons. Then I realized I should probably get on.

So I gritted my teeth and climbed on and nearly got blown off my horse. Hate wind.


Ditch picture!
Since pretty much everyone felt the same way, we jumped right in to the lesson and started walking over a single riveted ditch. Courage was unsure, but willing.

We were able to step through it, then took a couple awkward hops when we tried trotting in. Still. Can't complain for his first-ever ditch exposure.

I do love this picture
We turned and came toward the double-riveted grown-up ditch. Courage was all "HAAAAILL NAW WHAT'S THAT SHIT??"

Again, in the interest of not making a big deal about it, we just let him stand and have a look, then a more experienced horse trotted by and jumped it.


With some encouragement from the ground, he hopped over it.

Then to demonstrate how badass he was, he flung his head into the air and galloped off. The only bugaboo was that I had tipped forward, so his head hit my helmet brim and ZOMGZ THE DITCH BIT THE COURAGE AND IT WAS SCWARYYYYYYY!!!


Carousel Courage!
I trotted him towards the ditch again, but he didn't want to get within five feet of it, complete with backing up. That is a massive pet peeve of mine, so I kicked him forward and got him to the ditch. Our instructor told me to kick him and I gave her a look that must have pretty well summed up my feelings on the issue of being jumped out of the tack by a green horse.

So Courage got a fancy trainer ride.

It was actually hysterical once I determined he wasn't going to kill her. She rode him up to the ditch and let him look, then closed her leg. He went backwards, so she used her spur.

And he proceeded to have an epic melt down for the next five or ten minutes. It wasn't even about the ditch. He didn't like the spurs and he thought that if he just expressed himself clearly enough, she would give it up and take them off.

Instead she sat there on a loose rein and clucked to him with her spurs in while he ran backwards and spun around and threatened to do ALL THE BAD THINGS.

And then after ten minutes, he trotted up and did the single riveted ditch and the grown up ditch like a champ.

After they got it smoothed out, I climbed back on to a much calmer and more submissive horse. We hopped both ditches smoothly and moved on to banks!

To me, banks are the easiest cross country questions that exist. It's just super fun terrain. I'm good at terrain. As such, I was absolutely thrilled that Courage thinks the same way.

We kept it to the baby bank (calm and positive), but I was quite pleased with the little man. He walked up and down with no trouble at all. I was careful to sit up on the landings so we had no unfortunate helmet interference and all was well.

And then it was course time!!

Not sure why all the build up
We started out by stringing together a couple of logs, then the water, then our baby ditch, then more logs and the up bank.

Courage got super distracted going to the first log, then wanted to stop, then waaaay over jumped, then I lost a stirrup and there was flailing. Oh well. He was willing into the water and our friends cheered when he jumped the baby ditch on the first try out of the trot.

I finished the course feeling ok, but more just wanting another shot at it. We got it done, but it wasn't pretty. (Noted: those of you who've followed my XC drama know that this is HUGE for a person who used to have big issues. I wanted more and I wasn't afraid.)

Extended trot?
Enter course two. We just flipped it around so I was doing the course backwards, which included the grown up ditch. Too fun!

First the down bank at the trot.

Then we cantered one of our tiny logs. Not gonna lie, it was pretty awesome.

Then we had some rotten luck. We were trotting confidently up to the grown up ditch just as one of those gigantic pounding-the-ground horses came galloping by doing the training course. C-rage was all "Why is that horse making such a commotion?"

The ditches are scared of Courage, so they lay flat.
And I'm all "Hey look up there! We're aiming for the ditch."

And he's like "But seriously. That horse is totes going to blow a tendon in his first race if he isn't careful."

Me and Courage: "DITCH!!" Brakes!

Courage "Dammit, why didn't you tell me this was coming up? You know I am the best at ditches."

Oh horse. We circled back around, walked until we were a few strides out, then trotted over the ditch.

It's what jump jump horses do in fields
I had to laugh as we sported another fancy ass flying lead change, then headed to the water. In the interest of making sure he understands the questions I'm asking, I brought him down to a walk and he went right in. Then I just squeezed my legs...


He wasn't bothered by the splashing and acted like he'd done it all his life, even if the wind was gusting so hard that it was a little like riding in the ocean, if the ocean was only ankle-deep.

Yup. Did that.
We trotted over our last log and headed back to the group. Of course I was telling him what a good boy he was and how proud I was of him and how many cookies he was going to get.

Even our instructor was quite pleased with his progress. He's now been exposed to all the elements of cross country and is forward and willing to all of them.

Plus I have so many stunning pictures to document the experience, which just makes me happy.

Field jump racing. So hot right now.
And what did Courage think of all that?

He is the best at field jump racing.


  1. Daw! Sounds super positive. How awesome to get him so acquainted with so many XC aspects so early in his training. What a champ :)

  2. Yay Courage!! Sounds like quite an eventful and productive weekend, if not for some entertainment too! :)

  3. It's so helpful to have someone who will hop on and not give a shit about the shenanigans! It sounds like she got his brain back and you were able to have a positive finish to your day! I can't wait to get out schooling! We are lucky to have some woods on our property (complete with a massive herd of deer that like to bounce around) and a stream crossing which is great for practice.

  4. Aww I just love that last picture of him over the ditch "I'm not going to let it get us!"

    Sounds like a great experience for both of you, and so fun!

  5. You guys look great! You two are great role models - really appreciate your tenacity and dedication.

  6. How great! So, so jealous of your beautiful pictures.... *drool*

    So glad you have had a good experience overall (I hate wind too!). Keep persevering!

  7. Woohoo, that sounds like a really successful outing! I bet he will be EVEN BESTER at it next time out. :)

  8. What great pictures! You and Courage look great!

  9. Pictures! Sounds like a successful trip.

  10. Baby horse getting to do big horse things! Sounds like it was a great experience and good for you for sticking with it even in the wind, which I also HATE! I'm glad you were able to get pictures. I so wish I had some XC pictures of Loki and me!

  11. YAY Courage and SO AWESOME you have all those pics. I seriously treasure my first XC pics with Pongo both when he went out with my trainer and out with me :)

  12. So handsome :) It's only up from here girl!!

  13. I love everything about this post.

  14. Your take from inside his head is brilliant. That is so how horses think. :D Also, your pony is gorgeous and sparkly and muscly and I WANT TO SQUEEZE HIS FACE. That is all. ;)

  15. What a good boy! Such a great learning experience for you both :)

  16. You guys rock! Great pictures again!

  17. Awesome pictures are the best thing ever. :D Too bad about the helmet incident, but at least it happened with a trainer there to help get him through it and now you know what all is involved in his hissy fits so less to worry about hehehe. Good job on the first cross country outing!

  18. Nice!! Love that last picture (well, all of them really).

  19. Gorgeous pictures of a super positive experience.
    You are both the BEST!

  20. Oh yay, that is so great! And the ditch thing is why trainers are just the best and why we love them so.

  21. Yay Courage!

    Love the new header and subtitle.


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