After the dressage lesson, Trainer AB pointed me up the trail that led to the top of the cross country facility. Eeyore and I marched off across the Pacolet River and up the mountain with a vague idea of how to get there. Trainer took her car over and we would be meeting up with another rider who is also going to the show and is running BN.
I’m pretty sure that when we popped out of the woods onto the mountain top with wild wind gusts Eeyore just called bullshit on this weird day. He had a decent temper tantrum about it and I hopped off to let him graze a little and chill out. After I got my vest on, he had settled down and I did a very quick w/t/c warm up before we got jumping.
Our talk back at her farm had Trainer warn me that they had removed pretty much all the smaller jumps for the show they had recently run and that we might not do a whole lot except play in the water and the tiny bank. I was fine with that though truth be told I was a little disappointed. After our last cross country outing had him bucking on the back side and me flipping out, I really needed a good confidence boosting outing.
Trainer pointed Other Rider (OR) at a BN table for her first jump. They ran out to the right and came again to clear it. Then she looked at me:
AB: ok Sara, your turn
Me: My turn for what?
AB: the table.
Me: uh….that’s bigger than 18” and I’m good.
AB: Do it. It doesn’t look big to him. You’ve jumped this height before. Do it.
With a big old gulp I pointed him at it and we ran out to the right. Trainer said I did the exact thing OR had. Both our horses had been looking left but bulging right so we both made the mistake of pulling on the right rein with no right leg. She had me come again and we went over with no issue outside of my heart being in my throat.
Up next she had OR take the table the other direction and add a bending 5 strides to a novice sized round top. I watched. When AB turned to me and said “your turn” I about shat myself. “That’s bigger than the last one!”
“Oh I hoped you wouldn’t notice. He is fine. He doesn’t think it looks big. He loves this. Go.”
And go we went. I got left behind a tad but other than that it felt amazing. This horse guys. He is the best angry Appy on the planet.
We moved to the water and I was not shocked when she pointed out the BN tootsie roll leading out of the water. OR went over and then AB turned to me with “this one is smaller than that roll top so you aren’t allowed to complain.” She knows me too well.
Eeyore was on fire though and didn’t put a foot wrong. He trotted through the water and up over the out fence without hesitation. He got all the pats and all the good boys I could squeeze in before we were off to other things.
It was time for course work. Her biggest thing she wanted to accomplish was simulating the show in that once there we won’t be able to school individual elements and Eeyore has to learn to go with it and read the jumps as we get to them.
To that effect she laid out a course for me. A BN coop between two trees, up hill to a starter green bench that I had failed to ever get Gem over after multiplied outings and attempts and that gave me nightmares, up hill to the BN table, 5 bending strides to the N rolltop then all the way up to the starter up bank.
The jumps were surprisingly fine. Eeyore was in the mood to say yes and was having a lot of fun doing so. One massive hole in our training showed up though.
Eeyore is lazy. He had already worked hard and we were going up a giant ass hill. After every single fence he called it quits and tried to either walk or plain stop. It took some embarrassing pony club kicks to keep his big orange butt moving to the next fence and we sorta zig zagged along a little drunkenly as we went. I think it’s the nature of the group xc school we have always done where it has been go jump a jump or two then come back and sit. I dunno but darn that was hard!
AB stressed the importance of me landing and kicking on and we went back down to do it again. It went better the next time though still slloooooowwwwww.
Our last exercise was a small three jump course at the top of the hill. Again the stress was on getting him used to going over fences he hasn’t seen before. It was a small starter rolltop (who am I????) to BN bench to starter ramp and he took them all without a fuss. I backed him off the bench pretty badly as benches with all the sharp edges still scare me a bit but we managed.
After that we were cleared to head down the mountain and home. I had gotten exactly the confidence boosting trip I was after. Tackling those BN and one N fence is going to make my tadpole fences look tiny and that is exactly what I want. With the show venue and two phases before xc, I want the height to be a complete non issue for us. We only have 4 fences on xc with the ability to jump any BN fence as well and AB said she is going to point out the ones I need to do during our course walk.
Heading back to the barn on a loose rein I silently checked xc off my list. We may not be perfect but we are capable of this and man am I excited for this show!