Monday, July 6, 2015

A Mini XC School for Maximum Brain Development

Last week, I took Mo over to Gordonsdale, a local XC schooling establishment, to run around with my friend K and her green horse (whom I've ridden many times and is super cool). Her horse is much less green than Mo--they were going to be schooling the Novice stuff, and Mo and I were going to stick to tiny logs on the ground and terrain questions.

...because he clearly only has the scope for tiny logs on the ground

The day started off weird because I felt like I was running late, which is rare for me. I was in a little bit of a mood when I got to M's to pick up the stripey-face, and it was made worse when the jerk wouldn't get on the trailer. I finally did get him on, but then I felt even more behind. I texted K to let her know, and since her horse was also being annoying about the trailer, she said it was no big deal.

I arrived about ten minutes after our scheduled meeting time, so nothing criminal, and when I got there, K was on foot talking to a group of three riders who were taking turns cantering a little jump. She came over to me and said that she'd agreed last-minute to coach them and that I could ride with them since their horses were green, too, and then they'd stick around with her while she rode her horse. So they were already into their jumping warmup and my horse was still on the trailer. Great.

I unloaded Mo and tacked him up, and since he looked calm and I was running late I decided to skip lunging. I don't lunge him before I ride him at home, but we were in the middle of a field off the farm and it seemed like a good idea. It might have helped a bit, but I just trotted around for about 20 minutes until he settled in. During which time, of course, the other horses and riders worked up to cantering a mini course. But if I'd asked him to jump during that first 20 minutes, it would have been a rodeo, and I don't like to set him up for failure like that. By the time I felt he was ready to jump, we'd moved on to the ditch.

I don't know about you, but I'm not going to take a green as grass horse on his second XC school ever and point him at a ditch before we've had a few logs to establish that essential "you jump what I point you at, dammit" mindset. He didn't show himself to be at all ditchy in our previous XC school, but again, it would have been setting him up for failure. And, sadly, there were no little tiny jumps to hop over near the ditch, and I certainly wasn't going to leave the group and venture out all by myself. Good god.

So we stood around and watched the other three riders get work done, and I told myself that if the school became "you keep your shit together in a group of horses you don't know and hack out in a strange open space," that would be a very valuable thing for him. Any trip up the road for him is good right now. Etc. Still, I wished I was jumping something.

Oh, you thought this post was about Mo's brain development? Ha! Here's the thing: I've never really loved XC. And I don't think I've been on an XC school and thought "man I wish I was jumping more" ever in my whole life. Plus I was sitting on a super green horse known for some crappy antics lately. But something in the deep recesses of my brain is pushing its way to the surface and making me look at (small) XC jumps and think "yes" instead of "I wish that was made of rails and in a ring." Weird, huh?

Mo finally got to be part of the group at the water. Mo likes water, and he went right in and splashed around. He even did the baby bank out of the water like a champ. I think this relaxed him a lot, actually. He knew he was there to do something cool and he got to be part of the group activity. After we were done at the water, he walked to the bank on a long rein like the other (much less green) horses.

From the Gordonsdale site

Once he figured out that the dry bank was the same deal as the bank at the water, he jumped right up there. Up a few times, down a couple times, all was copacetic.

Also from the Gordonsdale site

We eventually did come to a little log he could trot, and I felt like he trotted it with enthusiasm. We even went down the slide--this super steep hill with a tiny log at the top. He hates going down hills, so I was glad to check that off the list.

The other horses got to do a lot more, and I wish I'd been with them from the beginning so Mo could have jumped more stuff. But I think it was a good day for both of us, and luckily we have a few XC schooling courses available whenever, so it's not as if this was my only shot at schooling for the year. In fact, we'll likely go later this week.

Now we just have to work on this trailer loading issue. It's always something, eh?


  1. running late and not getting to start with the group is really frustrating (and exactly the kind of thing that can prompt an uninvited rise in my blood pressure) but sounds like you both handled it well and had a positive experience !

  2. Trailer loading issues suck. Glad he ended up being a good boy though. :-) He'll get there.

  3. Sounds like a good outing even if it wasn't as you originally had thought it would be. Good boy Mo!

  4. Sounds like a successful day to me! Even if it isn't super eventful the goal is to keep it positive

  5. Sometimes I think it's good to have low-pressure, easily schooling sessions for greenies. So they learn it's not all about work, work, work but that it can be fun too :-)