Tuesday, 16 August 2016

CVES: XC

XC day dawned bright and early and stupidly hot. Although still feeling pretty miserable, I was grateful at least for my 8 am ride time. I felt pretty gross and sick to my stomach, which I chalked up to nerves. Midge felt like Midge, a little lazy and pretty backed off from the fences during warm up aka exactly how she's felt for a few months now when we jump. I was seriously reconsidering my life choices as the starter counted us down.

Midge happily cantered out from the start box, but despite my repeated urging, ground to a stop at the first jump, which was unfortunately one the ones she couldn't just step over ;) Now I was REALLY second guessing those life choices. Since we actually stopped with enough momentum that Midge had a hoof up on the log pile, I made my point by making her climb over awkwardly the rest of the way. We are classy, no doubt about it :)

All fence photos taken from coursewalk.com. This was actually how the first fence appeared in our course walk...they thankfully removed the top log about 10 minutes before we left the start box, making it perfect for a surefooted pony to climb over!

Jump 2 was a little log going up the big hill and while a little sticky, went ok.

Jump 3 was another small log pile at the top,of the hill. The line you needed to take involved heading straight uphill to a spectator area with a tent and some scaffolding for a platform for the announcer, then making a hard 90 degree turn with room for about three strides before a little log pile. The combination of the distraction of the spectator area and the uphill/away from home approach combined with the ground line disappearing a little behind the fence caused a lot of problems, us among the victims. A refusal there because she was distracted by the surroundings and I don't think she really saw the jump until too late. We circled and jumped it no problem the second time.
Like so...unfortunately slightly too big for me to feel comfortable making Midge to jump from a standstill.

Jump 4 was a bigger log pile with lots of flowers decorating it this year. She looked hard, but by now I had my inner 7 year old channeled and we got over.

Jumps 5 and 6 were more logs on a big bending line heading downhill. 5 sat beside a ditch, but no challenge there for pony.

this might not even be the right jump 6...all I remember is it was yet another log near the forest :)
Jump 7 was similar to 3 in that you where at the crest of a hill and it appeared to drop away to nothing behind. Obviously at our level, that's not really the case and Midge trusted me enough to give it a go and was happily surprised.

Next was a nice long gallop through the trees, downhill over probably the biggest jump on course, and onwards to the far bottom corner of the property before hanging a right back up the hill to surprise! more raised telephone pole logs. The only tiny challenge here in this field might have been the fairly busy truck route adjacent and the weird lighting coming in and out of the trees...if your horse hasn't seen a busy road or is generally spooky alone in a trail type situation you might be in trouble.

Jump 12 was sort of sneaky, hidden between a large hedge and a HUGE brush fence and not really visible until you got fairly close to it. Midge thought I was nuts to point her towards that huge brush, but then was happy when a few strides out our jump became a little more obvious.

Jumps 13 and 14 were a little 4 stride line of baby logs maybe 2' high. By now, Midge had her game face on and I was really starting to enjoy myself.

After 14, I saved a big wide turn and took a short cut through the water. Since that went just fine, we took the option of going through the second water rather than jumping 15. Actually a bit of a game time decision because by now we had pretty much caught up with the person in front of us and they appeared to be potentially stuck at jump 15. So, taking the water route was doubly wise. It also set us up very nicely for the one jump on course I wasn't sure what Midge would think of, a little log palisade type thing about 5 strides out of the water. It was on a bit of an uphill and the way it was built I think made it appear much more substantial than anything else out there. I've seen the preview of the pro photos and Midge was taking no chances with it either and over jumped it by a foot or so lol.
Water option

This year's starter fence 16, a mini palisade 

17 was our final jump, in the form of yet another friendly log.

I finished super happy with the pony, while I wouldn't say she was super keen, over the course I think she figured her job out and was quite happy to canter around and jump all the things. Her little ears look happy in all the pics I've seen so far (and yes, I am ordering some and will be sharing here)

I think the level was appropriate for a first outing, and while I think the course was tougher than most expected, I was happy to have the opportunity to give the pony experience with water and terrain. I also think the obstacles were wisely placed, everything from the pretend drop fence to the brush that wasn't and the ditch that was actually a log...super confidence building for everyone!

Since the weather was baking hot and I wanted Midge to have fun, I wasn't worried about time or penalties, my goal was simply to get around and end with a happy, confident pony who wasn't too tired. Mission accomplished :)

When we went to the vet check, Midge was only worried about eating grass, so the vet waved us through..."she's a pony and she's eating, I think she's fine ;)"

And, since I did of course check scores once the weekend was over, I can tell you we obviously had the 20 penalties for reattempting fence 3 and a further 20 time due to our adventures on the first part of the course where I didn't rush her in favour of letting her look and figure it all out.  That sounds like a lot, I know, but we only dropped down from 10th to 11th place. XC must have claimed a lot of victims!












19 comments:

  1. Ok some of those fences look pretty big for starter! Eek! Glad you guys had a good first outing (and were somewhat able to beat the heat!) :)

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    1. Looking at the previous years course walk, yeah they made it a lot harder this year for some reason. But trust me, don't worry, there were a ton of teeny tiny logs to canter over between the "harder" questions and the stuff that looks big isn't really - that palisade and those log piles were only like 2'3" and were mostly set on fairly level ground :)

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  2. Good for you for making that first jump happen!

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    1. Less jump, more extreme trail obstacle, but got it done lol

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  3. yay congrats on making it through and finishing on a high note! there's nothing quite like actually getting out to shows and running through a couple real courses for things to really "click" into place for the ponies - and it sounds like Midge had it well figured out by the end :D

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    1. You're right, I think she really needed the full course to understand the point of it all a little better. We'll definitely be back for more at some point in the future!

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  4. Logs everywhere!
    Sounds like it was a good event and that you guys learned a lot! Sorry about the baking heat, that's never fun.

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    1. So many logs...probably 10 of the jumps were just little 2' logs :)

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  5. Sounds like it was a great experience for her!

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    1. I think it was really good for her

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  6. Sounds like a fun course. Some of those jumps look like BN and not started jumps. I love the imagine in my mind of the pony crawling over that first jump. I hope you get pics.

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    1. Some of the bigger ones were/have been shared with the BN course, but they're only around 2'3", so probably nice easy ones for the level. I think BN can go up to 2'6"?.

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  7. Eeee, love hearing about your xc experience! It is just the funnest. And just keeps getting funner. Nice work!

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  8. Uh, fence #1 looks huge. Sweet god, haha!

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  9. Wonderful!! Schooling really doesn't compare to getting out there and running a whole course by yourself - my first XC run was similar! Definitely overwhelming but what a feeling of accomplishment when it was all over!

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