Dissecting the Details: Flora Lea Cross Country
|Someone's ready for BN!|
After our lightning-fast stadium round, it was clear that Dino did not need any warm-up for XC. He was very game and very much focused on jumping, so I didn't bother jumping any additional fences beforehand. Minimalism is the name of the game when it comes to our jumping warm-ups, and it works for us. While we were waiting our turn, Dino thought he was being super sneaky by drifting over towards the start box. He definitely knows what those white rails mean now, and it's so fun to see his enthusiasm!
My biggest accomplishment was being able to stay present and focused during the entire ride. There were some tricky spots on course where I had to step up and make decisions, like when Dino hesitated at the first fence, or when he had major reservations about the water crossing. I was mentally in the game, and actively chose to modify my ride to suit the situation. Leg on, stick on, change the path, big whoa, whatever it took to get the job done I was able to do it, and that is really saying something! I also made a plan during my course walks for where i was going to sink into the tack and balance my canter before each fence, and it made a HUGE difference in the quality of our jumps. There was no need to pick for a distance when I could let Dino keep coming forward and just bring his shoulders up a bit.
Fitness wise, both Dino and I felt GREAT at the end of the ride. Walking the course on foot, it seemed really, REALLY long compared to what I had been riding at BCHP. The stretches between fences seemed to last for miles, and I was concerned about making it to the end still feeling strong. But I had nothing to worry about. Our trail riding and conditioning days have paid off, and we both could have definitely kept going past the last fence! Dino recovered beautifully and within just a couple minutes he was breathing normally again. I didn't feel like I wanted to die, and though I was tired, my legs and arms were still fully functional.
Dino, however, deserves the most recognition for our wonderful romp around the XC course. He's made it perfectly clear that he LOVES being an event pony. The way he blasts out of the start box and looks for the next jump like a heat-seeking missile speaks volumes about the way he feels about cross country. Ears up, game on, EuroPony was ON FIRE. The pony that I can sometimes barely kick around the ring at a working trot was eating up the XC course and honing in on the biggest, baddest fences he could get in his sights, galloping for all he's worth across the ground. Gallop, jump, gallop on, where's the next one?! Let's go!
It was such an awesome experience to feel his joy and bravery on course. Dino was so fast, so bold, so focused on the job at hand. Galloping around the course with Dino was such an incredible feeling! Learning cross country together has definitely brought our partnership to a new level of trust and cooperation, not to mention being a new way to have a hell of a lot of fun together! There is nothing in the world like riding a pony who 110% LOVES what he's doing.
If I can just catch up with Dino and his zest for XC, and get the hang of the water crossing, I think a go at Beginner Novice is not too far away!