Cross Country With Sullivan
|Sully needs to work on his selfie skillz.|
We warmed up in the dressage arena, and Sully was a dreamboat for the flatwork. Oh how I wish his wonderbit was dressage-legal; the mild poll pressure and stability really do good things for him, and he is so much softer in that bit than he is in his loose ring. The walk and trot work was just lovely, and Sullivan put forth a really fantastic effort in the canter work, even though it's very hard for him, and Miss Allison is Very, Very Mean and makes him do things that make his butt sore. He is wonderfully fit in the jumping/trail riding sense, but needs some work on his dressage weight-lifting muscles.
Once my barnmate and I ran through our dressage tests, we headed out to the cross country course. My only goal was to jump all of the Elementary fences on course, school Sully through the water a bit (he's very tentative about water after slipping and falling in a river as a young horse), and jump one or two "bigger" BN fences.
I was able to accomplish all of that and more!
After a couple wiggly drive-bys at a small coop, I figured out the type of ride Sully needed on cross country: Forward and Firm. While he will jump just about anything from any kind of crappy approach, Sullivan does get The Wiggles and needs committed guidance to the base of the fences. About 5 or 6 strides out all I had to do was sit up, put my leg on, and wait for Sully to carry us over. Once he felt my commitment to getting to the other side, he straightened right out and jumped whatever I pointed him at.
Throughout the ride, I kept expecting something difficult out of Sully. A hard, back-cracking jump, a dirty stop, or behavior that required me to ride aggressively and muscle him around. Pony PTSD, I suppose. In any case, the trickiness I kept looking for never came. Sully trotted or loped handily over everything I aimed him at, carried me quietly up and down some big, scary banks, and even jumped a small log when a (terrifying) bunny unexpectedly hopped out from under it as we were lifting off.
We jumped around all of the Elementary fences, schooled the water, the BN ditch, some of the smaller but more technical BN fences, a Novice up bank, and at the insistence of Sully's Mom, jumped up and down the Very Scary Double Training Bank. I definitely almost ate it when Sully LAUNCHED down the second step of the bank, and thankfully landed back in the middle of the saddle, hanging onto his breastplate for dear life! I had a great time, and I'm glad I was able to get a feel for how Sully rides on cross country.
Sullivan is just such a good egg, and I am super excited to show him this week!
He's also giving me a new appreciation for just how HARD Dino is to ride. That pony is seriously complicated, seriously difficult, extremely tricky, and a hell of a lot of work. I wouldn't trade Dino for anything, but boy has it been nice to have an easy ride for once!