While our dressage continues to really suck anywhere but at home, Dino is constantly impressing me when it comes to his talent as a cross-country jumper and potential foxhunting pony.
It's obvious what Dino loves to do, and that thing is to GALLOP AND JUMP out in the open!
He's a total sleeper. To see him in the dressage ring or just schooling around in the arena, you'd think that Dino is nothing special. Sure, he's cute, but he's got an attitude and an opinion and he just doesn't have a lot of... go. Or motivation. To do anything. But eat.
Until you let that pony loose on the XC course or the trail. Then, hang on to your hats, folks.
Yesterday morning I dragged myself out of bed for an early-morning conditioning ride with my barn buddy and her fabulous Training level (Keep your fingers crossed for their move-up to Prelim soon!) OTTB eventer. She has tons of experience, and her horse is just a total doll, so I was pretty excited to go out with them and watch her work. Despite all the improvements I've made in the past year, this whole riding out over terrain at speed thing is still pretty new to me!
We set out to ride the perimeter of the 40-acre-ish soybean field next to the barn and pastures. There are some pretty significant hills along the way, with enough flat portions to let the horses (and my nerve!) get a break once in a while. Despite my attempts to keep Dino at a polite following distance, once we started trotting he was off like a shot and wanted to be right up on my friend's horse's tail. Thank goodness that guy is so saintly it never occurred to him to kick! Respect for my half halts was not really happening.
We trotted all the way around the property, and Dino was slightly weirded out by the now very-tall soybeans touching his belly! He felt like he was wading through the ocean when we rode through them, it was pretty funny.
After making one loop around at the trot, we kicked into gear at the canter.
Dino thought this was great fun, and also that cantering with his nose in the other horse's tail and/or passing him seemed like even MORE fun.
I disagreed. He disagreed with my disagreement, but then I made him canter through belly-high soybeans and he got freaked out and backed off. I win.
After cantering down the BIGGEST, STEEPEST HILL I've ever cantered down on purpose, my friend told me that once the path straightened out she was going to gallop. I mean, my arms were already about to fall off from half-halting like a maniac across the first 30 acres but sure! Galloping is fun!
So she moved her horse into a gallop, Dino saw him pull away, and suddenly he was ON FIRE. I'm not sure I've ever ridden a true four-beat flat-out gallop on this pony until then, but let me tell you he caught up to that OTTB pretty quickly! I've definitely NEVER said "whoa!" that loudly and that many times to Dino ever before in my life, and definitely was never so concerned that I might not be able to stop, ever. Eventually my friend started to pull her horse up to a more sedate canter, and Dino just kept going, passing them, and galloping all the way up the next hill until I could turn him in a small circle to stop.
I THINK I might have to bit up a little for foxhunting. Maybe.