Posted by: shannonc | August 1, 2009

Thirty percent

Yesterday was supposed to be the occasion for Segunda lesson, part II, out on xc.  I had to work outside in the morning so I checked the weather when I got up…partly cloudy, with showers in the afternoon.  No problem.  I can ride in showers.

Wrong.  Heavy rain all morning, becoming a monsoon in the afternoon hours.  The xc course was flooded and my lesson got postponed until today.  Serious work two days in a row (since we have an event tomorrow) isn’t the ideal schedule for the pony, who seems to prefer leisure the day before a show.  Beggars, as they say, though…so we loaded up this afternoon and went.

Resulting in entrance to the land of What A Good Pony! 

We really did work hard:  we flatted in the indoor, warmed up jumping in the stadium ring, then moved out on the xc course.  Sort of like a mini event.  I rode in the Innovation for the first time and used the Segunda again.  After making the mistake of Googling the thing, I grew pretty circumspect about it.  Was it too much hardware, was I taking the easy way out, and was I capable of handling it appropriately?  Warming up I was careful to float the contact out and not hold.  He seemed fine.  When the lesson started I asked for a reminder of its action, and was told it works on the tongue, but also will act like a snaffle on the lips and bars.  In hand, it seems a little bit like my Myler pelham, actually, in the sense that it moves in a lot of different directions.  Bending is the key to it, I was advised. 

With that in mind I started on an S-course over stadium jumps.  Xrail to barrels (oh! I used to fear them!) to vertical to…the dreaded castle jump.  As long as I have known this jump I have not wanted to point the pony at it.  It’s a big, chunky painted stone wall with huge blocky faux stone standards and yawning arched cutouts underneath.  Ewww.  He was quite rideable (and bendable – and much better in the left shoulder with this combination of bit and saddle helping me) all the way to the castle, which I rode to pretty aggressively as he sucked back from it.  He did not want to go but he went.  It wasn’t a hunter jump, but it wasn’t a horror show either.  Afterwards, apparently, he needed to tell me I DIDN’T LIKE THAT a little louder, and he ran out when we circled back to it (right, interestingly) – it was a naughty runout, but not a dirty one.  I was told to smack.  No worries, I was already smacking.  I think only the second time I’ve smacked the pony for behavior over fences.  Back again and he committed but now he does his hollow, bolty thing in front.  Lovely.  I had hoped we were leaving this behind…

Enough of the castle – trying to settle him again we did another couple of jumps, but he’s unhappy now and not getting much better.  He needs to think it over.  So we take a break and walk out to xc.  The last time we were out here, we had a lot of hollow bolty, so knowing that’s where he’s at before I point him at the first solid fence is so not where I want to be.  Last time, I got my teeth flossed with his ears, run off with, and withstood all manner of various and sundry other impolite pony tricks. 

I get another S-course:  big log to grey bench to red house back to grey bench.  He gives me a nice canter, makes a bid at the log but I keep sliding the bit and asking for the short spot and he pats the ground – then takes off afterward in a snit.  He comes back really nicely for the bench and offers a wonderful bascule, sprints off a bit after, but bends and comes back for the red house…and sucks back and sucks back.  I stuff my hands out in front and kick a few times but it starts getting really close so I back off and he stops straight.  He gives it a great snorting sniff, we come around again, and he puts in a big huge jump and leaves the county.  I have to circle before the grey bench again, but with the extra time he settles nicely and puts in a lovely jump.  We take a break, then tackle the same course again and it’s much better.  I can tell he feels more confident with the squishy footing and the jumps this time.  Big pats for the pony.

I’m ready to be done now (I know, this is always my tendency!) but the instructor is not ;) so we head out to the banks.  I have never done a bank on the pony.  I trot up to the short side and he’s great – but it’s the drop down I’m dreading – he’s running off after fences on flat ground, right?  But no – the pony plunks off like a saint.  No acceleration.  No big deal.  So we go up and down again then do the big side.  He’s perfectly fine, and he’s starting to look very impressed with himself.  The ears are up and he’s strutting.  I love it when he gets in this mode!

Now we get pointed at one of the bigger ditches in the back field.  A lead is suggested but I ask to do it alone – the last time the pony got a lead, he was so focused on the leader that he never saw the question, and I nearly got dumped.  I’m confident, in spite of my Blue baggage, that I can get the pony over a ditch.  He gives me a good backfiring car imitation – zoomwhoazoomwhoa, buck spit – but we wouldn’t’ve picked up the 20.  Pats and back and forth and he’s very brave.  I had a partner for the lesson and she brought an audience who cheered for the pony! 

Since the pony was saying, “I get it I get it” and gaining confidence with each question he successfully conquered, it seemed a good idea to push it a bit so we jumped a small two-log pile with a drop landing.  I kicked in and he went!  I heard a “YOU DIDN’T BELIEVE HE WAS GOING TO DO THAT DID YOU?!” behind me and had to laugh.  It was right!

The pony by this point has us all in fits of giggles because he is so chuffed with himself, prancing about confidently like a little stallion.  We get a last course – Novice log pile downhill to the drop jump, left and long gallop to the grey bench, right rollback to the red barn, and back to the bench.  The pony eats this course.  He requires some strong checks going away and on the turns to rebalance, but he is all over the jumps.  Maybe best of all, it feels like we’re a real xc team having a blast – for maybe the first time ever, we have stretches of galloping where I can get in cruising position and he’s carrying himself but not heavy and not running off, and he’s keen and looking for the next when I sit up – like a real event pony!  He seems to respect the bit without being backed off it, and he’s letting me soften in front after asking for the balance and ride from my leg to the jumps.  I’m not spending all my time fighting with him.  We’re both happy.  At the end he gets mega-pats and I hop off, loosen the girth, walk him a bit and let him graze right out on the course while my lesson buddy finishes (Kiss that!).

He’s not consistent yet – obviously – but when he gets in well he has a really nice jump to sit aboard.  I figure we had about 30% the kind of fences that feel wonderful, another 55% that were very acceptable, and 15% not so good, including the castle mishap up in the ring.  I’m pretty good with this – especially because he got better and better out on xc.  And I’m especially good with him having such a great time!  GOOD PONY!



  1. Woot! :D

  2. Good job, you two! Sounds like you’re starting to have some fun!

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