Monday, April 11, 2022

Rocking Horse part 3: Cross Country

Course walk photos:

Back side of 1- friendly house

2- friendly coop

Decently long gallop to 3- quail feeder

4 - mushroom table

5ab - bending line of ramps


Nice gallop to 6 - "triple bar"

7 - ditch, a pretty quick left hand turn from 6, JT emphasized making sure he had his eye on it so it didn't surprise him

8 - bench

9 - slope into sunken road, kinda in between those fences, we decided to trot into that one, it's not apparent until you're close that you're not going down the double down bank

10 - table

11a- roll top

11b - water

5-6 strides out of the water to 12 - roll top

13 - yellow hut

Long gallop up the hill, past some UL jumps to 14 - white table

Through the woods then a left hand turn to 15- corner, a very petite one at that, the wide side of this one was narrower than the table before

Gallop to 16 - table, not sure what they were going for with the XXX 

And done with 17! Log and box 

These photos almost didn't get put in, blogger was not cooperating with order of selection from my phone, but fortunately I'm back on my laptop and it nicely put things in in the proper order. 

LH and I got a slightly later start in the light, thank goodness. He got to finish his whole breakfast before getting on the trailer for a daylight drive through the Ocala NF. I got there in time to walk the course once more and cement it in my mind. My second walk on Saturday I was still looking at the map on my phone to tell where I was going, so I wanted to make sure it was there without any aids. My husband suggested the pictures last year to help with reviewing it at home, and they're a huge help. I don't post them here, but I sometimes also video JT's description of how to ride to something and review that too. 

I then tacked LH up and we headed to warm up. We intentionally left more time for a long warm up because the horses had been in the night before with the nasty storms. He wasn't at all jazzed up though initially. But cross country ended into the warm up area which end up making him a bit prancy and snorty. He does this adorable head shake and prance when he's excited and he definitely knew what was up. He warmed up really well over the log, coop, and brush they had. Then we headed out onto course!

The first 3 felt great, I was riding like JT had told me to - "don't trust him, ride positive" and he flew over them. He got a bit squirrely in the woods on the way to 4, but still felt solid over the jump. As we headed to 5, he got squirrely and wiggly and heavy. I didn't SIT up and half halt and instead just kind of continued to ineffectually pull. We made it over 5ab, but he was definitely crooked to both. This is when it kinda started to feel a bit out of control and I never made the choices to get it back under my control. 

5a - he's moving left, I'm looking right towards 5b, but not doing much other than pulling with my dang right hand

5b- he was pretty impressed by the looks of it and jumped the heck out of it

I kicked him forward after 5b, wanting to get that positive forward feeling back. But I didn't pair it with a good half halt. He jumped 6 a little wiggly and crooked and then needed a BIG woah to make the turn to 7, the ditch. He jumped the ditch fine, but then we wiggled our way over the bench at 8 again. He came back to me well to trot down the sunken road, which should have been a clue that when I meant it he responded to me asking him to woah. He also galloped forward nicely to 10, again, hints that if I rode like I meant it he was responding. 

11a was wiggly, but he went nicely forward to b. I felt like we were slogging through the water a bit, so moved him up into my hand, which meant that 12 rode the nicest out of any jump on the second half of the course. 

We wiggled our way up to 13, and I'm so glad I have these pictures of how NOT to ride. Xpress photo is pricier than some of our local photographers for single shots, but if you pre-order ALL the pictures they take then it's only $110 or something like that. So I did that and definitely got a lot of shots I wouldn't have purchased for the glamour of them, but that are so educational...

Try to pull horse straight with rogue right hand going UP while he's taking off (I guess that's better than back)... I promise you my left leg wasn't doing much here

Even in the air, rogue right hand continues to not release properly, good left hand though

Right hand still refusing to get it together, the next jump is a loooong gallop up a hill and actually a bit left before turning right

Then we got some pretty galloping pictures between 13 and 14....

This horse is unbelievably good looking!!! 

14 wasn't photographed, but we spooked at things all the way up to it. Again I tried to pull him staight/forward (how does that even make sense) rather than kicking him forward. He wiggled over 14 and then we spooked our way through the woods again to 15, the little corner. It is slightly narrower than the other jumps (I guess) and he slipped out to the right over it. We circled and jumped it on the second go round. Again, can verify there was no right leg engaged (or left leg for that matter) on our first approach.

It wasn't him spooking at that particular jump, it was the combination of him being a spookier, more sensitive horse than Yoshi (what horse isn't really...) and me not DOING THE THINGS JT has taught me to do over and over again. To get him to come back to me, I was pulling instead of one big half halt and then release, and I'm not sure I put leg on at all after the water. 

I was a bit mad at that point though, so I sat down and RODE to 16 and 17, so they rode great. Those were the jumps that JT could see from the warm up area. I came in disappointed, and she was surprised because the jumps visible from the warm up area were the jumps I rode him to, so they looked awesome. 

The frustrating part is that while he does know this job, I have to ride him to get it done. He's less straight forward than Yoshi out on cross country, but again, what horse isn't. Yoshi seemed to learn the lesson of jump the thing you're pointed at (or even near, see my falling off incident when he thought I wanted him to jump a jump sideways) SO quickly. He also was such a chill horse with a quiet mind that he wasn't really spooked by anything. 

To be fair to me, although I'm not sure I want to be, LH got strong out there in a way he hasn't while we were schooling. He was in the french link D ring, so we're going to try something with a bit more brakes and we're also going to string together entire long courses to simulate this while schooling. I also haven't ridden at this level in... 15 years. But to go from 4th after stadium to... 19th? UGH! 

And I KNOW how to ride better than I did out there. I KNOW to not just keep pulling and pulling but to sit my butt down, half halt and mean it, and then let him go forward again with leg ON. And he does need leg ON to do his job. 

We'll get it together, unfortunately with my work schedule my next try isn't until mid-May at Majestic (and if I can't get it together there were we school ALL THE TIME then I might quit... kidding... only kinda though). 

I might have eaten my feelings on the way home

This morning we're actually heading out to Majestic to run the course from their recognized (and then their schooling show this past weekend) like it is a show. JT is going to supervise from the golf cart, but I'm going to do the things she has trained me to do. 


  1. Ugh I can understand the post-show bummer feelings (also eating your feelings lol) but at least you've got the photos to review and sounds like you have a plan of attack moving forward! The galloping photos are 🤩🤩 and so are quite a few of the jump photos!

    1. Thank you! He is so handsome in the sunlight, I love it. And yes, we are executing a plan, hopefully with the desired results.

  2. oh man i'm so far behind, but congrats on getting out there for an awesome outing!! bummer about the couple more rough spots but honestly it sounds like an overall pretty excellent learning experience, plus omg all the great pictures!!

    1. Thanks! It was an excellent learning experience for sure. And I think a hole in my riding that was going to show up sooner or later, so better to work on it now!