Posted by: shannonc | August 21, 2009

If you don’t pull, I won’t pull back

Under the umbrella of “it’s harder to do less than to do more,” the pony and I had a cross country lesson yesterday.

And while it may be harder, we are happy to report that it is in fact possible!

We went straight out on course and warmed up in the field.  Our reunion with our lesson buddies, Sarah and Buck, was sadly brief as Buck stepped on a rock on the way there and was too ouchy to ride!  Keeping our fingers and hooves crossed for them that he feels better soon so they can go to their event this weekend.

The pony felt stiffer than usual in his neck, poll and jaw.  Maybe from yesterday’s flatwork, or maybe because we did less suppling work than normal in our warmup – we did a lot of forward and back, using the hills, but not so much bending.  Also, he knew why he was out there and began pricking his ears and locking onto jumps right away.  Since he seemed keen, I was surprised when I pointed him at the first small log and he propped at it.  I kicked my butt into gear and got him over, but I need to remember not to take anything for granted.  He propped at the next small log also, but I was more ready for it.  We schooled the big and small ditches next – he got a bit crooked and needed to check out the question at first, but he went over. 

I had a good schooling moment taking a leap of faith bringing him into the ditches a bit faster.  I had a course of  small box, downhill bending line to ditch, uphill bending line to small barn, and I was worried about getting him back, but I found that giving him a good check and then riding forward to the ditch worked fine.  I was able to focus on the barn and ride his tail, and he was happy to go from the trot.  We kept coming forward and he brought himself back to look, then hopped right over.

Next course was bigger – justifiable BN height – incorporated fences we haven’t done, and used the hills even more.  Small table, ditch to barn to hanging white birch rail, uphill to log, down a big hill to a new rolltop, up an even steeper hill to a green barn with the sun reflecting right off its roof at us on approach.  He was nice to the birch rail which he’s never seen before!  We trotted down the hill, looped to the rolltop which he checked out but let me keep riding forward to, then we had a big gallop up the steep hill and the green barn rode really well.  It was our first time in the field with the rolltop, and our first approach to the green barn, so I was really happy with how willing he was!

We did one more course, pretty much the same fences but in reverse, and incorporating a log oxer up the back hill after the rolltop.  He was not 100% on my steering, but was very honest to everything and getting a bit tired, so we stopped with that.  I’m not super pleased with how he tired, because at KO he’ll have 2 phases to get through before xc, but the hills were big and it was hot and humid.  Need to fit in a little more conditioning work.  We might have to do some boring sets in the ring since the deer flies are too bad right now to use the trails.

The big breakthrough was that I was for the first time able to consistently ride what I know works out there.  When he gets on his forehand and locked in his jaw between fences, I really want to pull.  When I soften and he doesn’t answer, I want to pull again, and he just locks up and stays on his forehand.  Then as the jump gets closer I start to worry.  Now, I  know in my brain that what works on this pony is to use my seat and thigh more on approach, but it’s very hard not to keep going to the rein when he isn’t answering it – instinctively I want to drill it until he responds.  Today I was able to check and then push my hands away and settle into my seat and leg, which he does answer, then be soft with my arms, just keeping a light contact to support and a little conversation going with my fingers.  Finally – no feeling of him bidding and making it so easy to ride backwards!  I think the bigger jumps really help with this – they back him off just enough to do some of the rebalancing work.  The hills help too.  As long as I don’t get in a deep driving seat, which didn’t happen today, it rides well and he jumps well, lands softly and looking for the next.

Maybe we have both outgrown the teeny jumps.  Hopefully we can keep reproducing today’s ride!



  1. More good news from Shannon and Weasel! ;)

  2. :) Re: conditioning – you can always meet me at Groton Fairgrounds! Deer flies aren’t bad at all there! I’m still planning 2 times a week despite the no King Oak thing. (I’m still hoping that MAYBE I can hunt this fall despite having a dog kicking horse!)

    And do you think the bit is still working? Or is he blowing you off now? Or is it working the same as it was when you first tried it?

  3. Sounds like it was a great workout!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: