So this past weekend, Dahlia and I participated in our first XC outing in a clinic with my trainer. As I said in my previous post, I was a little hesitant to do the clinic, not totally sure I would be in control (and to be honest I didn’t always feel in control) but as a whole it went pretty well. We warmed up with D finished up with the previous group and Dahlia was pretty chill. We trotted and cantered all around the field and let me tell you, she was NOT tired at all! That mare has an engine! Every time we would turn up the hill she would flatten her ears and really dig in but my main focus was on just letting her be a little bit more and not being so worried about controlling every stride. Easier said than done.
Some of the barn rats were there so I gave them the task of recording Miss Dahlia and myself. They were given strict instructions: keep us in the center of the screen, none of this focus on the jump until we go over it and then hurry up to the next jump to wait nonsense. I wanted to be able to see what happened in between the fences as well. Well, I forgot to tell them to record with the phone sideways too but that’s ok, its a learning process. Ha!
We warmed up over the little log, wide sweeping turn to the little post and rails, another log, over the carrot jump and then two little logs. I feel like video always makes things look slower than they feel, through the two end logs especially and up the hill I felt like I had very little rate-ability or control really but tried not to worry about it, she wasn’t going anywhere.
He noticed she was a little forward though and suggested that I gallop her around a bit over some bigger fences to back her off a bit. Ha! She did not really back off but that’s ok.
One little rolltop:
And then I got chastised. We were supposed to go over the little log, left hand turn around to the bending 4 stride line over the roll tops. Dahlia was ignoring my right leg to make the turn originally so we had to circle (fail) and then as we were coming to the rolltops she was moving up and up and up and I was trying to avoid using my hands too much because a) that makes her fight more, b) D is always telling me less hand, and c) he had been telling me to let the jumps back her off. Well, we ended up getting a 3.5 strides in there and D really fussed at me afterwards about not moving up to the jumps. Not picking to them but also not moving up. Ok, go around a 2nd time, aaaand….same thing happened. So we got chastised again and D ended up getting on her.
After D got on her and schooled her around he handed her back to me and told us just to walk around while the other two people in my group schooled some more. Basically we were told to go think about what just happened and lick and chew over it haha. Then we moved on to the ditches and banks. Dahlia was a pro here, I was very proud of her, she didn’t look at anything all day long. I had obviously never schooled her XC before, or really even jumped her a lot so had no idea what to expect but she really was a trooper. We trotted over the little ditch a time or two, up and down the bank a time or two and then started stringing them all together with the log on the top of the hill after the bank. I could certainly tell that D had been on Dahlia because it went smoothly, that would not have happened at first!
And we finished up at the water. Nothing too exciting to report here, a little jumping in and out of the water and we called it good.
All in all the clinic went about how I was expecting it would. We had some moments where we were really together, we had some moments where I was really not in control, D had to get on her and when I got her back things were much better. Its just going to be a matter of continuing to learn to work together and refining some of those moments…and establishing who is actually in charge. (Hint: its not the one with gray hair and 4 legs)