Posted by: shannonc | November 4, 2010

Cheer up and follow up

The portables are disappearing!  It’s officially the end of the season here in Area 1.

The pony and I got in one last go at them yesterday. 

I wanted to do an actual course – a pretend sanctioned xc, so I could pretend say “he was great at our last event!”  :)

Warmup was a tour of the field (just one small slip on a shaded hill), followed by a few warmup jumps, and some concentrated work at the canter, just getting him to relax on a circle.   I worked on softening my hips and seat, which brings his back up and requires me to be quick to reinforce with my leg as he wants to break.  It’s a balancing act right now, but it felt like the exercise worked very well to stop him from worrying.

Denise asked me what we’d done last week with Eric.

“That log…the birches…I skipped the telephone log oxer, which felt sort of chicken, but I just didn’t think it’d go well…”

“That oxer is solid T.  Even if you were having your best day ever, you should not have pointed him at it.  He’s just not ready.”

Well, yay for reinforcement.  I guess I don’t have to feel guilty anymore!

“Let’s see…the red house, the ditches in the fenceline, steps up, big ditches in the back including ditch to skinny log and skinny log to ditch, that brown rolltop there -”

“That rolltop?” 

“Yeah, and -”

“THAT brown rolltop?”  She points, for clarity.

Ummm.  I guess I haven’t walked up to the rolltop.  I nod and wait to hear what I’ve done.

“And how was he?”

“Well, we did the big up bank, bending line to it.  He was good – Eric was happy.”  (This was the jump that provoked the grin and the “don’t look so smug” remark)

“That rolltop is 3’3″.  A solid 3’3″ at that.”


So my course is:  fat log, across the field to hanging birch, up the hill and turn to a small tire jump we’ve never done, straight down the steep side of the hill to a rolltop (different one), over the cordwood built into the return uphill, across the top left turn to the green house, straight down the hill to the ditch, bending right to the bench, optional rolltop which I’ve just learned is giant, across and down the hill to the open ditch to log combo, up the hill left turn into the water, bank out, to the tiki hut.

14 efforts.

Here are my priorities:

  1. Jump all the jumps, on the first try.
  2. Practice my half bridge.
  3. Sit and take the strong check on approach at the right time and get the balance so that I can move him up to the fences.


Fat log – not quite enough engine, so I get up off his back and really move him up across the field.

Birch – very good.  He gets a good boy.

Tires – he wants to peek.  I bring him to trot so he has time to, and he figures it out and jumps right over.  Pat, pat.

Steep hill – we walk a little.  My pretend xc isn’t timed, I decide.

Rolltop – good.  I wished for a little bit more boldness, but good.

Cordwood – easy out of stride.

Green house – fine. 

He comes back to trot for me and jumps exuberantly at the ditch, but I don’t toss him away so much that we can’t get reorganized easily for the bench, which jumps well, soooo…

I go for the big rolltop (other direction this time) and he jumps it just as happily as he did last week with Eric.  More good boys.

Trot down the hill, get straight and trot the ditch to skinny log – again with the trot in he gets the easy 2 strides in the distance.  Another good boy and we swing around and up the hill to the almost blind water entrance. 

We get trot just as we crest the hill and he doesn’t even hesitate to get his feet wet, but he feels like he is staring hard at the bank and wanting more time, which we don’t have – I realize I need “sharp” and that means (per Eric) tap behind the saddle, so I do it (less wallopy this time), and he blasts right out.  My butt gets a little left behind but stays out of the saddle and I think I do a good job of giving the arm that has the reins.  I’m pretty sure I grabbed mane up there with the left hand.  I land in my feet and he seems unconcerned.

Tiki hut – I gather him back up again and he goes happily.  He’s so nice and rhythmic, he cruises right along and gives me plenty of time to organize.  We’re done!  Good pony!

Review:  speed – much better – no jump-by-hurrying.  Denise tells me the left hind is stepping under well and that we looked much more comfortable together, with a better relationship to the canter.  It is interesting how he’s getting more to the bottom of the bigger jumps:  he knows which ones they are, and he chooses to come right down and pop over safely.  Not awkwardly, he just doesn’t stand off and take the flyers.  Very smart.

We decide to just redo the bank out of water.  I take the route over the down bank on my way, just because we haven’t done a down bank yet and I want to lick that.  He’s good.  I could be with him a little more, but I don’t interfere.

This time he flies out of the water as if to say, this is what you wanted right mom?  It’s a little *too* sharp, so we go around again, collect the trot a bit more into the water, and he gets out PERFECTLY.  I don’t have to adjust one bit, I just take my hands back from the release and we canter on down to the tiki hut.  It feels awesome!

And that is the real story of our pretend zero-penalty course.  Followed by very real treats for the brave pony who appears to have recovered fully from our roller coaster season!  He really seemed to have fun…PHEW.  Go pony!!



  1. “that rolltop? *that* brownrolltop over there? the one that’s over there — with the trolls and cliff?” :D Yay Pony and Shan!

  2. Kudos to both of you!!!

  3. OMG! YOU DID THE TIKI HUT!?!?!?!?!?!

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