Friday, June 3, 2016

Windurra XC school

Fair warning...I had a major fan girl day yesterday so there will be lots of name dropping and gushing to make up for the lack of media from our outing.

We made the hike back up to Windurra USA for a lesson with Dom Schramm again in the hopes that we would XC school this time since last week we only had time to jump school in the ring. Dont get me wrong, that was pretty awesome too since the footing was like riding on a cloud.

Oh nice footing, where have you been my whole life?
This time we stayed out in the XC field to start and went right into warming up on the beautiful track (also equipped with the lovely cloud-like footing). Dom also sent us around the fields to expose our horses and get them listening a bit as well.

While cantering around, I realized we were cantering around Boyd Martin taking a lesson with Lucinda Green **GULP** - Like seriously, eventing legends watching me and Brita canter around. I had a bit of a pep talk with Tillie in that moment and asked her to please not make me look ridiculous once we started schooling.

Oh hey! We are here! 
Dom sent us off to warm up over some logs that followed the perimeter of the galloping/exercise track and told us to start off with a smaller canter and then develop a bit. If that went ok he said to continue on to pop over a novice-sized coop to a novice roll top looking thing and around to a pretty large table. Tillie ate ALLLL of them up and did so calmly - thank goodness!

Borrowed from the website...but this was one of the jumps we jumped warming its big!
I asked him about the difference between chipping into a fence vs getting them to wait and come in deeper to a fence since that was one of our goals for some of these to prevent her from getting flat and landing on the forehand. His answer was simple and sort of made me feel silly for even asking but, a chip is when you approach a fence coming in a 12 ft canter stride but the last stride turns into a shortened 10ft or less stride where as a waiting distance or one when you ride to the base is approaching in a 12ft stride but then you adjust to a 10ft stride the last few making an even striding for a few strides rather than the last second.

Mare glare and not enthused at all

We moved on the banks...which I promptly warned Dom about my ridiculous phobia of down banks which he reassured me and said well its because youre worried about her landing too downhill and yanking you out of the tack - no worries, we will work on your position and letting the reins slip even if it takes 4 laps around the field to get her back. 

Fortunately for me, Tillie listened to my pep talk and was on her A game and didnt land taking off ever or get too strong...the mare knows when that pelham is one and respects it. 

We talked about how to ride both up and down banks:

  • Up Banks: Horses like up because they naturally are inclined to want to go up so instinctively its an easier question for them to answer. You want to come in right to the base and not get too long, stay tall and grab mane so you dont accidentally catch your horse on the way up
  • Down Banks: Look up at the horizon NOT down and stay really tall with your shoulders...many riders make the mistake of tipping forward before the horses shoulders leave the bank and then they may hesitate, launch off etc which causes the rider to teeter a bit and cause a potential issue. Think of staying perpendicular to the ground so if you remove your horse from under you, you would land on your feet.

Tired Tillie
We started with going up the smaller banks then tried the double bank up which went swimmingly. Then we did the down banks the same way...shockingly it wasnt so bad! Tillie totally didnt bat an eye at the double banks and Dom had me trying to stay more in my stirrups rather then sit on her back so much. What do you know, they felt pretty darn smooth!

Then we went off to the ditches. Dom had Brita and Rachael do a few things since both their horses are not fond/green with ditches and I loved how they both were able to do them without any issue as a result!
Then we went. Dom had us trot the smallest ditch, keep going and canter the second, larger, ditch then land and keeping going to come back to the third even larger ditch to a one stride to a roll top. He said to stay tall, allow and be soft but to keep her straight. We did it 2x without any issue :) Yay Tillie!

Again borrowed this from their isnt quite up to date but you can get the idea

Finally we headed over to the water. We splashed around a little to start and then Dom had Tillie and do a bit of a few jumps together coming in and out of the water a few times.

He had us start with jumping a line of two roll tops with brush on top which as we got closer got larger and Tillie sort of questioned the first one, but I sat up tall closed my leg and she did them alright. We landed frm those came cantering through the water, made a right hand turn and jumped the log (you can see in the image) down into the water...made a left turn jumped the rolls tops the opposite way (which Tillie did much softer and more relaxed) and jumped the bank down into water.

Soooo exhausted

Dom was pretty happy with that so that is where we ended. I couldnt be more thrilled with her! I was also super happy with how positive it was for my barn mate Brita :) We just have the best horses.

See I told you guys I would gush!!

Bath time once we got home...much to Tillie's dismay


  1. It's official I'm moving in with you. I won't consider the logic of wanting to join you on all your jump lessons when I don't have a horse that jumps...

  2. Aw so awesome! I never really realized how thankful I am that I learned to ride down banks as a kid. They never scared me. The skill has come in super useful riding steep hills trail riding, too. That "look at the horizon" tip is the best one. :)

    1. I am starting to feel better about them...I have been doing the down hills more at home which I do agree help!

  3. I'm with you; down banks are terrifying. This sounds like an awesome lesson.

  4. Sometimes you gotta ask questions, I know i do a lot of silly question asking, otherwise you won't know right lol. Sounds like a good schooling.

  5. Sounds so fun. Love the point about riding a down bank... not that I ride down banks. I do ride down hills though and looking up instead of down would probably make it a lot easier/more comfortable.