Tuesday, 18 February 2014

First XC School at Full-Gallop

Everyone had so much fun schooling today! When we arrived, I unloaded Elf from the trailer and her eyes were glued to the xc field where there were people already schooling. We tacked up and headed over to the field. I was tightening my girth, and the others had started to trot away. As soon as I was done, Elf did a really nice extended trot (her choice, not mine) until we caught up with the others. 

After warming up we started out over a small log. I don't really know what I was expecting, but Elf attacked the fence and did a bucking bronco routine after she cleared the two-foot log (Reg if you are reading this, I got after her :p). While the others moved to different jumps, I trotted that one a few times until she did it calmly. Then I proceeded to do a beginner novice fence to a novice fence, and Elf was a really good girl. As we went along it became apparent to me that Elf doesn't really mind the big and bold fences, but instead the things that you would assume an ex-racehorse might be a bit suspicious of. The very first ditch we approached she refused, but made sure to clear it the second time around. Once she had that ditch down pat we moved to a bigger one, where she did the same thing. This is where I learned that I need to be a bit tougher with her and give her a stronger ride. I was floating the rein at her and being too polite, hoping to give her a positive experience. It became clear pretty quickly that I needed to approach the fences with a different attitude (instead of trying to let her figure it out on her own, I needed more of a "you've done this before, you have to go when I say to go" type attitude). Once I gave her a stronger ride (more pace and aide) she was more confident to attempt the fences and less willing to take advantage of me being too nice.  

She was a really good girl with a few different banks that we did, and she was really starting to get more comfortable with where to put her feet. We then came to the water complex. Down here, beginner novice (entry) has a water component as well, which in this case consisted of a log, then a few strides into water (flagged) and then about five strides in the water and out the other side (the pre-training had a decent size coupe, one-stride out of the water). Elf was a bit unsure at first, and only went in after Timothy was playing and she decided it looked fun (I am still curious as to whether I could have gone in first try with a bit more pace and a bit more kicking). After she went in once she loved it, and every time we came around again she would leap (unnecessarily) into the water. We decided to attempt a bank into water. We followed Timothy first time around at the walk and Elf was unsure, but when I reproached at a trot, she decided to go for it (wasn't the prettiest sight but we were in!). We did it again, and it was a lot smoother and she felt more confident. We finished the ride by jumping a nice solid pre-training fence, and she seemed pretty happy with herself. I am thrilled we got out today, and me and Elf both learned a lot including both of our strengths and weaknesses. 

Since it was nice and hot out today (sorry guys it went up to 26), I was able to hose Elf off when we got back to the farm (which was only 15 minutes away). Tomorrow she will be getting a bubble bath, because seeing the amount of dirt that came off of her without soap was a bit disturbing. I put her in her stall for a bit to cool down while I ate my lunch. Today was the first day that she would be going out with Robin (a chestnut mare). When I put her out, they ignored each other for a while. Occasionally they would sniff but realized they weren't overly fond of one another (especially when Robin kept chasing Elf away from both piles of hay). Eventually they made peace, and stayed a respectable distance from one another, and even though they aren't best friends Elf still seemed to be happy to have some company (she didn't even chew the fence today). 

Unfortunately no pictures from the cross, but I took some cute ones of Elf, Robin, and Bruce

Robin- Elf's new friend

If you zoom in her mouth is really funny here- Looks like she's smiling 

Elf and Robin

Elf and Robin Again


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