Monday, July 13, 2015

XC Schooling #2 - Nerves Galore

On Saturday we did our 2nd cross country schooling, this time at Tugger X Ranch in Moorpark. I started out feeling relaxed and ready for a positive outing. 

Unfortunately no media from XC, but here's a shot of our July 4th dress-up.

We trotted and cantered around, and Hannah was feeling a little lazy but willing. We popped over a few tiny logs. I was feeling okay, but planned on sticking to the intro-sized jumps.

We headed to the water and while Hannah hesitated for ~10 seconds, she did go in without any help from the ground. This was certainly an improvement from our last outing, but at a show I'll school the water before trying to go through any flags.

Then it came time for a mini course: a tiny rounded wooden slat jump to a BN-sized box jump. I've jumped that BN jump before on Hemie, and I knew that Hannah could jump it no problem, but my nerves started to creep in. We got over both okay, but Hannah was behind my leg and I was rather ineffective at getting that corrected. We went around again, and this time I pushed her forward but let her get completely on the forehand and strung out - she politely refused/dodged out of the BN jump.

I knew what I needed to do. I know how to get her in front of my leg. Forward and back. Gallop and collect. Leg to hand.

But I just couldn't. My nerves were getting stronger and even though I knew in my head what to do, I simply couldn't make it happen. 

We came around again, and somehow made it over the BN box, but I was so loose and backwards that I popped way out of the saddle. Miraculously I landed back in the saddle, but it was a very near thing.

From our last jump lesson.

Laurie got on Hannah before I could do any real damage to our trust. She rode her around for quite a bit to her in front of the leg and responsive, and even took her over a few jumps including some Novice jumps. She gave her back to me to cool off while our stablemates did some schooling.

Then we headed to the ditches. For whatever reason all the horses in our group thought they were terrifying and had some major struggles getting over. I got Hannah close a few times, the whole time basically shaking with nerves. Then Hannah tried stepping down into one (they're like 2 feet deep!) so Laurie got on again. 

Laurie gave her the ride that I couldn't, and she got over the ditch. At first with an extra 3' height to spare, then like a normal pony. 

I got back on and we were able to get over it together. Same with the other gals in our group. By that point we were all hot and tired and I was panicked that I was going to majorly screw things up. I simply wasn't riding like I knew I needed to, no matter how much I tried. 

From our last jump lesson.

To end on a more positive note, Laurie had us each go and jump 1 final jump - whatever we wanted. I picked a BN sized log that looked very welcoming, and we had a perfect approach and perfect jump. Phew. 

All in all it was a very short schooling, but I was drained from my own nervous energy. I am still very frustrated and disappointing in how much nerves I had. I thought I would be fine, or at least significantly improved from our first XC.  

Oh well. As Laurie stated, if I spend a year at Intro then I spend a year at Intro. There's no hurry, it takes what it takes. And luckily Hannah has been a very willing partner. Even though she senses my nervousness, she hasn't taken advantage at all, and in fact has impressively helped me out sometimes. Good girl.

Hannah and Lucy - my lovely ladies.


  1. Sounds like while it was challenging it was still positive. Sounds like you're on the right mount with a great trainer! I hope the next school is even more positive.

  2. sorry the nerves played a bigger-than-expected role during the schooling. glad you worked through it tho!

  3. Ok so...

    I have soooooooo been there. And I'll message you directly.

    But where you're at is a-ok and don't worry about it.

  4. Grumble, grumble. I know what it feels like. As much as I try not to, I still anticipate big, spooky moves from Izzy. He does do naughty things, but they're not anything like what Sydney did. But still. it stinks to deal with anxiety in the saddle. :0)

  5. Fear is so crippling and frustrating, but you're doing an excellent job working through it and it sounds like you have an amazing trainer AND an amazing horse to work with. It's great that you guys have no agenda and you can take your time, unfortunately it's something that can't be rushed.

  6. It's okay to get nervous, we all do. You sound like you have a great trainer and it all worked out okay in the end; no harm, no foul. You and Hannah are still getting to know each other, so it's perfectly fine to not be 100% brave all of the time yet. You'll get there and I like the "no pressure added" approach. It will make the journey all that more pleasant.