Monday, October 28, 2013

Up the Ante!

As I walked around the cross-country course at Heritage Park this weekend, I realized that the Fancy Pony and I have come a long way without ever actually schooling a XC obstacle. I looked at all those starter fences that had me queasy four months ago, and they looked inviting! They were so tiny and looked like nothing at all! When did those jumps sink down into the ground?

I also looked at the Beginner Novice jumps. They looked perfectly approachable on the green Fancy Pony!

Oh, yeah... I know I'm amazing...
How can that be, when I haven’t even been schooling XC fences? I’ve been pondering for 2 days, and this is where I ended up:

- after the massage work, we lost the “scuttle effect” that made it feel like she was going to run out of the fence (even if she had no intention of running out)

- with increased strength, she is now jumping out of stride in trot and canter with more balance and power lift than ever before

- she has developed more relaxation and balance in all gaits, improving her steering and response times leaving me able to confidently ride her on a longer rein than ever before!

Finally building some real muscles!
Before the weekend was over, she showed me exactly how ready she is for more XC!

It started with an accident… We were practicing walk-canter transitions on a serpentine. There is always “stuff” in the arena to avoid when you do more than just ride around the outside. We had just finished a half-circle to the right and made the downward transition. As I set her up at the walk for a left-lead canter depart, she ‘unbent’ right before the transition. So I asked for the bend again, and she began to drift right (with a left bend) practically over bending her neck. I finally got her between both legs and reins, and we made the transition. With all the wandering side-to-side, we were headed straight for a half-barrel shaped block (commonly used to make small verticals). I tried to encourage her to pick a side, but she didn’t quite respond fast enough, so she just jumped it! She didn’t throw her head around or do anything funny, she just jumped.

I just *had* to make sure that this nonchalance wasn’t a fluke! I looked around for things to make an inviting ‘skinny’ with. I decided on the 2 half-barrel blocks. I set them side-by-side and flanked them with standards. I wanted to set her up for success, after all! I’m a fan of building confidence by taking ridiculously baby steps!

I picked up the trot and turned toward my skinny. Fancy Pony locked onto the jump, but nothing changed in her body. The trot remained in rhythm, calm, loose, and swinging. She remained straight to the base of the jump, never offering even the slightest indication of waiver. She hopped over the skinny without a second thought and trotted out the other side ready for the next challenge!

I just *LOVE* this pony!


  1. Replies
    1. Gosh, you're replies are so wordy! Perhaps you could summarize just a little more so that your replies don't take up quite so much room! :-P
      I second that sentiment!! I practically start bouncing in my seat everytime I think about our next XC opportunity!



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