Tuesday, 19 April 2016

XC Clinic Day 2

The morning came far too early once again, partly because we brought the bag the tent lives in...but no tent. Super helpful, right? It turned out not so bad the first night because we had a tarp, but the second was breezy and dipped below freezing so I was sad we forgot our tent!

Since I actually knew about the second pace clinic Saturday morning, I was in the tack by 8:30 to get warmed up. Once again, Midge was pretty wild. Apparently our adventures of the previous day didn't make a dent in her energy. For our second ride with EC, we added in about 5 fences along the route. One was a log we'd jumped the previous day, one was a coop, and the others were log piles in various forms. Off we went, confident as anything. As we cantered down to fence 1, I felt Midge start to wiggle and back off. I gave her my best encouragement, but she was like "nope, too fast, I don't know what to do" and slammed to a stop at the last second. I circled to re-present it to her. Nope again, only this time I popped off over her shoulder since I am not that great and truly thought she was going (she got a front leg, plus me, over, at least ;) Back up in saddle and under orders to trot the thing and MAKE HER GO. So, I did, and it was awkward as anything and I popped out of the tack AGAIN. Not cool! I think everyone felt sorry for me by this point, so we got to restart. Off we went, and no issues with our nemesis. On to fence two, trotted in to let her see it, and again, a dirty pony stop. Re-presented and jumped it the second go. I skipped fence 3 since it was way big and optional. Fences 4 and 5 were wobbly, but on the way home so the pony jumped them. We didn't get a time because that stop obviously put us below the 350m/min minimum. I was pretty grateful that my coach from home, EC, was the one supervising our less than stellar efforts. She's super calm and level and very much of the "forget about it, dust yourself off and try again" persuasion.

Randomly riding off into the sunset :)



 We next moved over to the second course marked out for us, which involved way more terrain than the first. There was a bit of a drop down onto a steep hill leading into a big hollow that made me a little apprehensive. For this course, we decided to make it positive (and I'm sure less nail biting for observers) and ignore the fences and just go for time - MD was going to have to fix our new jumping confidence issues later. With no jumps to worry over, the second course was SUPER fun, Midge tackled the step down like no big deal and I channeled my best Man From Snowy River and cantered down into the gully like a champ. She charged back out and our time was 360m/min or so. I was quite happy with that given our goal of 350 and that the course required a lot more adjustments of pace and guesswork on my part than the first. With mixed emotions, off we headed to day 2 of our xc clinic with MD.
Warming up

I needn't have worried. MD was again super positive and gave me instructions not to dwell too hard on the previous hour. Basically, Midge is the equivalent to preschooler and we can't expect her to focus and be perfect all the time! As for my nerves, I was told to put on my best acting skills. "Who would you like to ride like?" she asked. My off the cuff answer was Mary King, so Mary King I was to be for the rest of the day. We went out and introduced ditches and Midge was like "fun!" and we quickly got our groove back. After walking through the small ditch, Midge happily cantered everything else, even the bigger prelim ditches (sounds impressive, but seriously they are no big deal ridden by themselves as a simple ditch ie no huge fence or wall before or after!) Next, we tackled a couple of easy logs without issue, then added in a big ramp. Midge again was like "nope!" and MD asked why Mary King was riding like such a ... girl. OK then, off we went, and Midge may or may not have got a big smack on her bottom a stride or two before the fence. Ponies don't mess with Mary King, so over we went. We rode it one more time and it went well, so off we moved on to some further challenges. Our next challenge was 3 of the fences from course 2 of the morning's pace clinic that I had opted not to try to jump. Maybe MD saw my sissiness earlier that morning, maybe not, but a strange coincidence, on a property with hundreds of jumps, no? We had a couple more refusals, and honestly, we made it happen but they felt icky. Pony was plenty energetic, but not feeling overly like a team player. We ended on a good note, and went back over to one of the water complexes to play there, since we knew all the horses were pretty confident with that and it would be a good place to end for myself and our lesson mate who was also having some minor troubles. (Ginger, on the other hand, was a superstar and stylishly jumping training level stuff all day long and loving it!) We got tons of video of both ponies, but of course G's phone doesn't want to send them to mine, so I'll have to be patient.
Ginger says water is no big deal

Our water adventures started with just trotting and cantering through the water, then progressed to popping out up the small bank, and then dropping in off a little bank (maybe 2' high). Midge was very enthusiastic about the dropping in and I was concerned she might drop me in the water, particularly from trot, but it all went great and we went back to camp tired, but happy.

I think we actually tired the pony out
I met up with EC on the way back and she asked how the rest of my day had gone after my rather poor start. When I explained Midge felt really backed off, she said that wasn't unheard of - the first day out the horses don't know anything and are super excited, the second is where they start to think about their options and show your weaknesses, particularly if they are crafty like the Midge. She suggested having someone pop on Midge the following morning and jump her for a few minutes just in case it was a confidence thing or something I was doing. Done deal. I left day 2 with mixed feelings, sad we'd not been as successful/confident overall, but also super proud of all the things that Midge could do in such a short time - who knew she'd love it so much and that we'd be easily making time in a pace clinic, jumping in and out of water, over ditches, and in and out of steep gullies? Not to mention bravely dealing with the atmosphere of the place - super busy, with people and horses and spooky jumps everywhere! Besides, I was supposed to be Mary King and she wouldn't let a fall or two or a bad day stop her!

14 comments:

  1. Sounds like a challenging day, but overall you beat the challenges and both learnt :) good on you for carrying on.

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    1. Those eventers are bad ass, I doubt I really had any choice but to carry on :)

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  2. The sunset photo is amazing <3!

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    1. G is normally terrible at taking pictures, but that one makes up for it and then some!

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  3. Gorgeous photos and it sounds like an amazing day. Coming from someone without any level of confidence it sounds almost like a more successful day just because there were challenges and you powered through. Now you know what it will be like if she's not perfect and you both were still successful :)

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    1. Agree totally. Maybe not a successful day by traditional standards, but as far as getting over some fears it was totally priceless :)

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  4. How amazing!! You guys accomplished A LOT especially considering this was your very first XC experience!

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  5. !! I love hat psychological technique! I am totally going to make my trainer help me pretend I am some other Hawesome rider (capital H intended) to get me to ride properly!

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    1. Hawley is amazing! One of our clinicians was her old teammate back in the day :)

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  6. Those first few xc rides are tricky for both rider and pony. But once you get the hang of things, it is all you will ever want to do!

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  7. Ha! My jump trainer has me do the same thing- I'm Boyd Martin in female form. It definitely does work though. That pace clinic sounds like a lot fun! Glad you had a good time, even if if day 2 wasn't as great as day 1. Hope this means you're coming to the dark side (eventing)?

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  8. Honestly it sounds like a net positive day, and I'd have to agree with your trainer in saying day 2 would be more likely for the horse to show less confidence since they actually know what's about to happen but it's still so new to them. Maybe in a way it's like a testing phase - Bridget wants to be reeeeally sure you're serious about the whole thing, which obvi you are Ms King (love that btw!), and she will likely click right into gear. She's just gotta figure out the game!!

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