Confidence - Burgundy Hollow HT XC Recap
This horse trial found me at literally the most confident I have EVER been at Beginner Novice. After a superbly Attackative stadium round, I was more than ready to tackle the course. There were a couple spots that I knew would be challenging, but I didn't feel any of the overwhelming fear and anxiety that plagued me at our last two BN outings. I knew we could Do The Thing, and do it we did!
Let's start with the course walk, photos courtesy of my XC Schooling Buddy who went the day before to walk and took lots of pictures and sent them to me! The numbers get goofy towards the end since they changed the course after my friend took the pictures, but, here we go:
Fence 1 was a super straightforward coop - BN is flagged in yellow. Flat approach, a straight shot from the start box, but I knew I would have to ride it very strongly since I really screwed Dino up at our first fence at the last HT. Then we'd scamper up the hill to this cute little gate:
After which we'd make a sharp right turn and ride down a steep hill to Fence 3 - there was only a stride or two of flat ground before this goofy log/rolltop thing:
My plan was to just keep coming - put my hands down and kick, and let Dino find the distance! After that, we'd pop down over this weird little hump at "Fence" 4:
A quick jaunt through the woods and up another hill led us to the right turn to the ditch at Fence 5:
Up another hill to this adorable baby log, Fence 6:
Here's where the numbers get wacky - Fence 7 was actually a slightly smaller version of this Rather Large Red Table. The width of this fence gave me pause, and I just sort of glanced at it and kept walking during my course walk. The turn to get to it was also a little goofy, with a long run sideways down the hill before turning right to get straight to the jump:
Then, up up and away to Fence 8 - the down bank. I chose the option for this one since down banks make me queasy, which was a little feeder not shown in this photo:
Fence 9 followed, a good-sized pheasant feeder:
And then a straight shot to Fence 10, a sweet-looking solid ramp:
11 was the water crossing, with an optional up-bank out. I decided to opt out of the bank, since I wasn't sure if Dino would be bold enough through the water to make it out over the bank:
On to Fence 12, a nice little brush box off of a sharp 90-degree right turn out of the water complex:
|They added actual brush to this one for the show!|
Up another long hill, then down to this goofy-looking oxer set into a slope for Fence 13. This one worried me a bit, it looks HUGE from far away, but as I got closer I realized it was really quite small:
Then down the final stretch to Fence 14, a big ol' log. I love logs.
The one thing I didn't like about this venue was that there was no warm-up area near the start box - you had to walk all the way across the show grounds from stadium and then go into the start box "cold" without being able to even canter around, much less jump anything.
Dino cantered obediently out of the start box, and I picked a point on the first fence and stared at it. I could feel him seriously backing off, and I kicked, and poked, and slapped him on the shoulder with my stick, but he petered to a stop at the very first fence.
Sigh. The huge win in this situation was that I did NOT get discouraged, I did NOT get scared, I simply turned around, kicked my pony into a forward canter, got straight and jumped that fence! Coming up the hill to Fence 2, Dino was looking at EVERYTHING. There were a lot of little Starter and Intro fences scattered around, and he spooked at them, and stared at others, and wiggled a lot. I kept coming anyway, and eventually convinced him that yes, we were jumping the gate!
Coming around the turn and down the hill to Fence 3, I still didn't have a focused pony. Our pace was good, but Dino was all over the place. It was tough to keep him straight, and he never seemed to get his eye on the jump. By the time we got a stride or two away, it really seemed to surprise him and he stopped. Again, I didn't get flustered in the least, just turned around to re-approach, and Dino jumped it like a champ. He wiggled and waffled some more down the weird lump, which I let him trot, and then we picked up our canter again in the woods to head to the ditch.
Heck yeah, ditch! I love ditches. Ditches are our jam. Dino locked on and jumped the ditch beautifully, and at this point he really seemed to understand that we were on the XC course. After he landed, Dino just cruised up the hill to the next fence, powering away in a really good gallop. I didn't need to touch him with my leg!
Fence 6 came up beautifully, and although I was a little worried about Fence 7, it came up right out of stride and jumped really nicely. Around the hill & sharp turn to our little option Fence 8, Dino got a bit confused and broke to the trot, but I just put my leg on and he popped over without a fuss.
On the way to Fence 9 he got WILD, galloping pell-mell down the hill. At one point I remember saying to him, "HEY! BUDDY! FOCUS UP!" as we made the turn to 9, which Dino jumped like a total pro. Fence 10 was equally as nice, coming up out of a good strong gallop, and then he saw the water at 11 and took a BIG pause! Lots of clucking and kicking and sticking resulted in a rather sedate walk into the water, but he never came to a complete stop, so hooray for that! Once Dino had all four hooves in the drink, he popped up into a trot and cantered right out.
Unfortunately, he never got his eye on Fence 12 and came to another "How did that get there?!" stop. Again, I never got emotional or worried or distressed, I just turned around, popped him over, and that was that. Dino had another major spookfest at the top of the hill, where there was an Evil Brown Rolltop lurking to the side of the path. It took quite a lot of effort to get him past that thing, with a lot of googly-eyed snorting on Dino's part, but once it was out of sight he rolled right along with confidence.
The oxer at 13 jumped beautifully, and we landed in a great gallop and cruised on over the log at 14, finishing the course!
As a reward for reading that long recap, here are some video clips of the course - stops at #1 and #3 included:
Even though we had 3 refusals, and ended with a huuuuge number as our final score, I am beyond thrilled with how I rode that day. We COMPLETED! I felt incredibly confident the entire time, and I know that the stops were not because I was scared and riding backwards, but because my pony was spooky and distracted. I was able to recover from the stops immediately, explain to Dino that yes, he does have to jump everything I point him at, and move on. The majority of the fences jumped absolutely beautifully, Dino had a GREAT 'cruise control' gallop going on between them, and I was able to jump even the 'big' fences out of stride instead of trying to manhandle the canter down to what I thought was a good, close distance. I was able to trust my training and my pony's abilities and get it done. Galloping downhill didn't even worry me!
I came off the cross country course smiling and happy, patting my pony for a job well done, instead of beaten down and feeling lucky to be alive. And that's what I call winning.