Our First Cross Country Outing- Part 2, Stadium

The flat work had gone extremely well and while there is still a ton to work on, the differences were easy to see from when we started way back in February. Trainer was super happy with the work we put it and I was really proud of Gem for working so hard to try to give me the correct answer. I’mm to a point now where I feel like I can start to push Gem a little more. Before she was a little delicate. Too much pressure would send her over he edge and it would take a week or more to bring her back. Now she can take it.

It was time to get jumping though.

More hiking pictures to break up the text. 

The same course was still set from last Wednesday only this time Trainer set up a cavaletti with a ground pole on either side to make it wider.  She wanted to introduce a jump without standards to Gem to see how she would handle it. I hadn’t even thought about that difference in stadium versus cross country.

She first had me take Gem over the cross rail we had been over a dozen times before. I kept my legs on, looked up at the gate opposite the jump and rode towards it. Gem went over but it was hesitant and squirrelly. Trainer just shook her head because she saw me ride it hard and yet, even though Gem has jumped this same jump before, she still got all squiggly before it.

Same old cross rail, same old hesitation

It is a little frustrating when she is all “maybe I’ll go left, maybe I’ll go right, maybe I’ll stop, fine I’ll go over but I’m going to keep you guessing if I will or not right up to the base”.  Trainer remarked that Gem requires steering the entire time including in the air and that makes it very hard. I used to blame it 100% on me and my lack of confidence going towards the fence, but on Friday I had no butterflies, no hesitation and was not backed off at all. Gem was still the same.

We came at the jump again and this time I booted her pretty good right before it to make sure she kept up her pace and went over. Well, this caused her all sorts of confusion and she lost track of her legs and tripped right in front of the fence. We managed to make it over, but it was ugly. The third time was decent enough for Trainer to set us loose on a small course.

Carrying over from the flat work, Trainer set up three small fences: the cross rail, the cavaletti and a vertical. She told me the order to jump them, but that was all. I had the entire arena to do my thing in and she wanted to watch my decisions as I made my way around the course. I could trot or canter depending on how balanced Gem was.

And this is where I got sorta frustrated. When I very first started jumping with Trainer, she stressed allowing for bigger and deeper turns to give Gem more time to notice and realize the plan. So going around the course that was my thought. I made big sweeping turns, got deep into the corners and chose to overshoot and come back rather than turn too early and lose my rhythm.

Trainer kept shouting out to steer, turn and better prepare. I told her what I was thinking, but then when I went around again and made my turns sharper and didn’t overshoot I got told I needed to give her a better set up. I honestly didn’t know what the correct answer was as either way seemed to be wrong. I was steering and I did have a plan, it just never seemed to be the correct one.

My little guy is growing up so fast. Not only is he getting tall, but he has lost all remnants of his baby body and is looking like a little man

For Gem’s part she jumped as she always does: needed more leg support than I have access to, required precision steering and would duck out or stop if given the smallest opportunity. Thankfully, I didn’t give her the chance to duck out and kept my legs on her blocking the path, but she never felt locked on or enthusiastic about the whole thing.

After a few trips around, Trainer ran out of the ability to stall any longer, said it was time to leave the arena and begin work in the wide open over solid obstacles. Honestly, I’m convinced she was nervous about the two of us. I mean, in the arena we pretty much stink and I had been pretty vocal about my concerns on cross country.  For my part I was on the verge of telling her never mind about the whole thing. We had already been riding for an hour, it was getting really hot out and I was chickening out big time. I didn’t let the inner voice win though, and nervously followed her out the back arena gate….

11 thoughts on “Our First Cross Country Outing- Part 2, Stadium”

  1. lol leaving us with a cliffhanger, eh?? sounds like maybe on the surface kinda a frustrating warm up – but honestly all i keep reading is you writing about making good positive decisions and proactively riding the horse forward and giving her the support she needed even when maybe the horse wasn’t making it super duper easy. that, to me, sounds like a HUGE win. and like exactly the type of ride that will help Gem become more and more consistent over time. i hope the feeling carried over onto xc!! 😀


    1. Yup 🙂 the lesson was nearly 2 hours long and since I tend to dwell on the bad parts I decided to break it up into each phase we worked on to highlight how it went.

      I can see your point. I was riding with a plan and being forward so I guess it was a bit of a win. Stadium just feels so held back and shaky tho.


      1. Yea I feel ya on that. It’s gotta start somewhere tho and the consistency will come with time (that’s what they tell me, at least lol)


  2. I totally get all that you were dealing with this in the lesson. I am impressed that you went forward – I would have felt the same. Good for you!


  3. I know the lesson already happened, but I will say, some horses do better with natural jumps on the XC field than they do in the stadium. It really convinced both Eugene and Levi that jumping was fun and had a purpose. And that translated into better stadium from them. So I fully support doing XC even if things weren’t perfect in the arena.


    1. I’d have bet my entire life’s saving (hahahahahahha…all $2 of it:) that Gem would hate solid natural jumps. Bare wood has been her nemesis for 7 years. Deer, wild hogs, banks, water etc on trail and she won’t bat an eye. A pile of sticks? She jumps 50 feet sideways and blows hard. That’s what has always scared me about xc with her. You’ll see just how wrong I was. Guess I’m $2 poorer now

      Liked by 1 person

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