Post-Season XC Schooling - Making Deposits to the Confidence Bank
|Perfection. So exciting what he can do when I get out of his way and ride right!|
It's time for everyone's favorite thing: CROSS COUNTRY PICTURES AND VIDEO!
After the shit-show that was our Flora Lea BN run, I really wanted to get out and about and popping over some XC fences to get Dino back in Bold & Brave mode, and put us in a good spot as we look towards next spring's competition season. So we headed out to the horse park with confidence building in mind.
My plan was to start small and give Dino every chance for success, so after getting him tuned into my leg and popping over a handful of warm-up fences, I headed out to run him over the entire Elementary course.
Truth be told, he was a little wide-eyed about the whole thing! He definitely felt backed off to many of the fences, tiny as they were, and actually refused a simple post-and-rail jump that he's jumped confidently many times before. Of course, more aggressive riding on my part would have prevented that, but hindsight is 20/20.
Knowing that Dino wasn't feeling 100% gung-ho about the whole thing, after running around the Elementary course I wanted to continue to keep it simple for him, and chose to work on a small upright log jump (Elementary sized) to the water, and ride on to a BN size log if that went well.
|Easy-Peasy over this little jump on an angle|
My friend and ground person reminded me to do whatever it takes to get the pony over the jumps, and that especially when I feel unsure and start to get into the "will he stop?" mentality, I need to funnel him in to the fence and KICK ON! It was something I definitely needed to hear!
I let him check out the Fence 1 log, and Dino really didn't seem to care. So, I picked up our canter, headed towards it, and for the first time that day he took charge and took us right to the fence! I softened my hand and just let him continue on in the perfect rhythm, and Dino jumped it absolutely flawlessly. Lots of pats and "Good Boy!"s all around!
We then moved on to ride the stacked logs to the pheasant feeder, which Dino also definitely felt more confident about, despite ACTUAL BIRDS flying out of the feeder on our way to it! He asked me if it was OK, and if he should jump it, and I said yes. Dino popped right over the feeder but definitely gave it a LOT of room!
Then it was time to tackle the Produce Stand. After the Attack of the Produce Stand at the horse trial, I wasn't really sure how Dino was going to react to this fence, and was riding very defensively to it. Turns out I didn't need to worry at all, as he jumped it from the gappy distance and I got completely left behind waiting for a stop or the close one! More Good Boy Dino, and we came around to jump it again, this time getting over it much more in sync.
|A little blurry, but we NAILED IT!|
|Jumping the snot out of this rolltop!|
I wanted to end with some work on the bank complex, as I had avoided schooling banks pretty much all year (because down banks are scary), and Dino is very confident about banks so I knew he would feel great about himself afterwards.
For the first time EVER, I was NOT scared to go down! Dino hopped happily up and down the bank complex like a total champ, cheerfully launching himself into oblivion. It was clear that he felt awesome and brave.
While I had some tougher things in the back of my mind when getting ready to go schooling (like stringing together longer portions of the BN course, and schooling some Novice fences), I'm glad that I listened to my gut and my pony and kept things easy and light. The huge increase in confidence was evident in both of us, and I feel like we're in a much better place now than we were after Flora Lea.