Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rocking Horse Winter I - Cross Country

I walked the course Friday after hacking, which is when these nice sunset pictures are from. And then JT and I walked it again on Saturday after dressage. 

#1 - Log box - get going, set the tone for the rest of the course

#2 - Bench - this was a left hand turn instead of going back to stabling - get his eye on it, turn early, mean it

#3 - mushroom table - canter it, jump it

#4 - approach this in a forward, uphill canter because you have to land and turn to 5ab

#5ab - angled 4 stride line of coops 

#6 - triple bar - jump on a bit of an angle to show him the opening in the trees

#7ab - roller coaster - this was the roll top, downhill then slight uphill then downhill again to chevrons for b. Possibly very spooky, so spurs in until he leaves the ground for a. 


#8 - Oxer - show jumping canter for a big oxer because you have to land and turn right 

#9ab - roll top through the water to a log - off a right hand turn under the tree - if you overshot this turn from 8 you were on the wrong angle for b - the log out of the water

Pretty sunset over the course

#10 - table - canter it, jump it, don't do anything weird

#11 - "Big Red", then down a hill then up a hill to #12 - show him you're going left in the depression (the up banks were straight ahead)

View from inside the depression up to #12, the straight ahead line to the double up banks barely visible on the right hand side there

#12 - wedge

#13 - brush - don't jump it like a brush though because you have to line up #13 as you're doing 12 

#14ab - half coffin

#15 - brush 

#16ab - coop to left hand turn around the tree to a corner

#16b - get his eye on it, land from the ramp and set up your turn in a nice forward, uphill canter 

#17 - loooong gallop uphill after 16 to the coop

#18 - wedge - kinda funky as a stand alone, 5-6 strides out get him uphill and listening then wide hand, take me to it

#19 - house 

Sunday I was putting a lot of pressure on Ben and myself - THIS could be our AEC qualifying score, we could actually do it!! Not a good attitude to start with, I think it led to some sub par riding and more chasing than supporting out on course. I also was feeling too comfortable at this level, taking some things for granted because we were "established" at this level (LOL). Not riding as Ms. GY put it "like you've already had a stop". 

Warm up was in a new location, next to some woods on the far side of the venue. We were the first to go, so we were alone by ourselves out there initially, which led to all kinds of spooking at a horse through the woods and the cross country jumps in warm up themselves. Once we got to work, he felt kinda heavy and downhill. JT and I simultaneously decided halts from the gallop would be a good exercise, so we did a few of those. He did those okay, but still felt less responsive than he has typically in the elevator/chain combo. He was jumping the jumps though, so we did a few more transitions then went to the start box  

#1 went well 

Gallop along, #2 also went well

#3 he chipped and got a little tight too 

#4 rode decently, #5ab we put in 5 strides not 4 though

5a - jumping in fine

5b - getting deep to the base and chipping 

7ab actually rode really well, I was determined to get it done and he responded perfectly. 8 is where it fell apart - I tried to get him up into a show jumping big oxer canter. And I think we got to a good spot. It felt like we took off appropriately, but landed in the jump. It was terrifying looking down and seeing his legs tangled up with the jump. I was in front of the saddle as we crashed, but he lifted his head and neck up and flung me back into the saddle and then backed himself out. It was a frangible oxer, thank goodness, and the pins dropped both rails on it. He ended up with just a couple of superficial scrapes around his left knee and a small scrape on his right hind.

Until we got the photo series from Xpress Foto (shout out to them for their order all package being so reasonable and for sending me ALLLLL the pictures of the crash so JT and I could sort it out) we couldn't figure out what went wrong. What it looks like though we got to a good spot and then his hind legs slipped and he couldn't save it. He looks pretty surprised to be ending up in the jump. 

He trotted a circle sound, and his legs looked okay, so I made the decision to keep going after they rebuilt the jump. 

Frangible pins down

He jumped the snot out of it the second time 

Not taking any chances with the rolltop either. 

Through the water

And out over the log 

Table at #10

#11 "Big red" down into the depression 

Then over the wedge up out of the depression

The rest isn't photographed, but #13, 14ab, and 15 rode okay. He knocked #16a on the way in and I fumbled around the left hand turn and didn't get his eye on b until about 1.5 strides out. Then it was going to be a looooong spot or a tight one at the base. I chased him rather than sitting up and supporting with leg the crummy distance and he rightly said NO WAY and stopped at b. We circled around and jumped it fine. #17, 18 and 19 all rode okay too. 

I'm still unpacking feelings about crashing into a jump. We're going to stud him behind in the future. The ground wasn't terrible, but it was sandy and fairly deep and this show was HUUUUUUGE. We were the first of training rider to go, but all of training horse and open training had gone on Saturday. We're also going to do a lot of schooling before the next show to make sure this is a level we are comfortable at. I do not blame him at all for 16b, that was absolutely the right call. But I want to make absolutely certain that if any part of 8 was caused by trying to chip at the base that we have got that part sorted out, and that we never do anything like that again. 

At the end of the day, I'm grateful for frangible technology, and I am very grateful to have Ben home in one piece. But we have a lot of work to do to make both of us comfortable out there again and make 100% certain that we are as safe as we can be in this inherently dangerous sport. 


  1. What a crazy fluke at the oxer! I love all these pictures tho bc it definitely looks like you were both absolutely determined to not do that again!! Really beautiful shots! And good for you for digging deep after a bobble, to me that says more about having the necessary preparing for a level than just not making any mistakes in the first place. Anyway the ground in Maryland is completely different from Florida but Charlie loves his studs and we don’t leave home without them <3

    1. That's what Steph has said we need to treat it as - a crazy fluke. With obviously checking all the lug nuts that we can etc. And thank you! It didn't occur to me until after we finished to be fairly terrified about it and dwell on how much worse it could've been.

  2. Whoa, I'm glad that the oxer came down so that both of you guys were safe - good on you both for recovering the way that you did!

    1. Me too. I shudder to think what part of Ben would've given if the jump didn't.

  3. Oh no! I'm glad that you guys are both ok, that sounds so scary! I'm such a chicken about solid jumps, all of the stuff at training level looks absolutely massive to me!

    1. Thank you, me too! Not going to lie, a change in focus to something with fences that come down definitely did cross my mind.