Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Is this his calling?

Safe to say that at my first ODE in 9 years I was feeling like a fish out of water, luckily everyone was super lovely and sooooo friendly. It was actually a nice change from the fashionista, label bashing, imported horse, dramas, of the Jumpers. Though in saying that it was a smaller show with only 14 horses in my class. Dressage was much as I had expected from Butchly. He did some nice work- an 8 for my free walk, What a good boy, he loves the stretches- but he really didn't help in some ways. His early work was better, but after doing the left canter work when I switched to the right rein he cantered the first loop of my trot serpentine, and in his right canter circle he did a happy leap and head flail. So it was not as good as he is capable of, but it was much better than expected.I refused to look at the scores all day because I wanted to just ride and not being trying to "protect" a position on the leaderboard.

The showjumping was tiny, like only 90cm instead of 95cm and I thought to myself this is small enough that you could really make a hash of it. Not trying to sound arrogant of course but I often find it easier to get a distance to a bigger fence when you have to be more accurate. Still he cantered around like perfection and I made no major stuff ups. Result. It was quite nice for him to just cruise around, in just the french link snaffle with no stress.

The XC started nice and small. I had a flyer at number 4 but should have killed us both but I managed to sit up in time and Butch the scopey and careful managed to chip and twist and save us both. Stupid stupid blood to the head ride. Butch normally has no self awareness and his self preservation is about 1% so I was delighted cross country when he was super careful and aware of where his feet were. I'll take a horse that will stop on xc over a horse that will flip, though on Butch I have scope to burn, he can jump me out of most issues. Anyway after 4 it was two banks with one stride between them and Butch jumped up both like a pro, though the stride was short so I was careful to get a quiet ride to them. Butch tends to jump big into his combinations and have very little back off so quiet rides into combinations are always called for. I'm thinking I need to train bounces more to back him off a bit.

6, 7, 8 were all rolling fences along the top of the course (I meant to take pictures of them all! but I was so nervous I was subfuctional). Then we rolled back to a combination, walked as a short showjumping 3 strides, jumped in what I though was quietly took one stride, realised the three wasn't on, let him open the next stride and he comfortably did the two. It didn't feel unsafe at all and I am a big chicken. I showjump him with his stride so compressed to help him jump soft and round, I forget how naturally long his stride can be. Then up onto this steep little lump with a skinny brush fence on top with a steep downhill landing. Butch impressed me here as well because I thought he might take the longer distance, but he did the add, got right to the base and popped over so we didnt land too far down the hill. Sensible Butch, sensible! This sounds like I really had no input I'm sure but it didn't feel like that, we felt really in sync and he was so happy looking for the next fence.

Then down a hill, over a the lens of a "camera" and then we turned to the water. It was a small fence, one stride to a log drop into the water. I got a fantastic shot into the first element, landed sitting up and put my leg on. I was really worried about getting him into the water. He didn't do it in the one stride, he chipped in and popped down into the water, which I was happy with. He will get bolder into the water jumps I'm sure, and the one stride was quite long so again he proved he was looking after himself. We have to remember it was his very first proper XC run. Then over an easy corner, a brush fence, turned to a combination which was a rustic jump and a curving two strides to a skinny fence. Locked my eyes onto the second element as early as possible, he came around smoothly, locked on jumped great, rocked up to jump the skinny corner really well and rolled easily around the last 5 fences to cruise home. Never pushed his rhythm, just let him roll around, he locked onto his fences happily, it was such a fun ride, he was an absolute delight.

So because there were only two clear rounds XC, Butch being one of them, he came second and the catch ride ended up fourth after a runout XC at the skinny at the top of the hill. So In over a year of SJing Butch I have gotten one ribbon, in 1 attempt at XC I have gotten one ribbon. I wonder whih one is more his calling. I had been so frustrated with his lack of improvement and his inconsistency SJing but maybe this is what he is meant to be doing. He just loved it and I really enjoyed myself so I have already entered a proper horse trial for this coming Sunday. The field is a lot bigger and the dressage test a lot more complicated but all the canter work is after the trot work so maybe he will stay settled longer. I have three days to practice anyway! I wonder if I train my canter early in my schooling sessions and then go back and do a lot of trotting, instead of doing my canter work last, he might anticipate the canter less. I'm only doing it for fun anyway, I'm still so green at this. Still I would love another XC country like the last one, it was so much fun.  


  1. Wow congrats, with their were pics, sounds like he was amazing to see over those xc jumps!

  2. Sounds like an awesome ride! Congrats on the ribbon!

  3. Just what you needed! Best of luck at the coming trial!

  4. Yay for you both! You sound much happier, so maybe this is a point in your life that your direction will change?
    I loooove cross country!