|Ok ok Ill be nice...|
|Look at the giant booty!|
As I tacked her up, I was nervous and excited. Its always a bit unnerving when youre going to hand over the reins to someone else, but also because I was worried about how she would be with it being her first time jumping again. My gut told me she would be fine, but I of course worry and didn't want her to come out being super stressed.
Dom and I made small talk as he hopped on...believe it or not, my stirrup length didn't need to be adjusted for him at all :) I guess I never realized just how close in height we are - I am 5'3. We talked a bit more about what happened with the fall as he looked over Tillie's battle scars as he cooed to her how sorry he was that happened to her. I am so thankful for her professional choice XC boots since both her hinds took a beating, but with the strike guard protected her cannon area...
|You can see her left hind boot is almost totally brown |
from the brown stain of the fence we well at
He reassured me again it was just a fluke, not to overthink it and gave Tillie a pat and said to press on with our plans. We chatted a bit more about those as I put her snaffle on (yes SNAFFLE!) as he talked about bitting and he was confident Tillie could potentially come back to a snaffle for XC...he wanted to ride her in to feel how string she can be.
He also had her jump the larger log at an angle a few times explaining he is trying to make her think more about the jump and not get so flat on landing.
Its kind of strange watching someone ride your horse...It makes me feel a bit self conscious and odd because I am usually the one riding! Lol and because its someone else riding what you've produced. But once he did a few jumps there, he let them both catch their breath and walked over to me. He said he was VERY glad he had the opportunity to sit on her because he admitted she was certainly had a stronger feeling under saddle than how it looks. He was quite nice about it and said I have done a nice job handling it and could understand some of my own riding tendencies even more because of how she goes. So he said the goal for today, get her thinking more and sitting more.
He moved on to the ditches we have seen before:
He mixed in some canter work which shows the breaking gait I mentioned earlier from how much he was getting her to sit:
Then introduced her to the larger "coffin" complex ditch:
The entire time I could hear him talking to her which was really cool. Her ears were constantly flicking back and forth listening to him. He explained he was going to start this combo to get her thinking quicker and looking for whats next rather than focusing on the immediate jump. He said by doing this it would promote her staying uphill and prepared for the next thing coming.
So he started piecing together the coffin complex. I would have thought for sure he would school just the skinny brush alone before trying it right away, and it did seem to catch Tillie off guard. But with some encouragement and some bloopers, but more encouragement they ended up nailing it:
My first thought watching this series, was oh no...she isnt super confident and that sucks. I can count on one hand the number of times shes refused a jump, and its only ever been one other XC jump. But Dom reassured me after the fact when he let her catch her breath that it was a necessary conversation to have. He said it wasnt the jump itself she wasnt sure about, but a green horse moment of not thinking ahead or fast enough. So he said this complex was tricky and requiring her to think more...
|Looking like a real xc horse now!|
All I know is, I am glad it was Dom and not me doing it! He was really cool to watch work her through it...and not all of it is captured on video. But he would walk her to the base and give her some leg...back her up down to the ditch, walk her back to it and do this a few times until her answer to the jump was forward. I told Dom Skinnies have always been the one question shes consistently tensed to on approaches, but usually with leg will do it. He laughed and said he could feel her do that yes, but not to worry too much and the more exposure it would come...especially with this being a prelim question.
|get it girl! hello prelim questions!|
At this point Dom recapped her down hill on landing issue and the want to keep her really compressed when xc schooling, similar to a show jump canter, to promote that uphill jump that we have gotten in show jumping. He said its so much harder XC when you are going faster since it opens the door for the flatter jump, but he felt her learning!
|There is an uphill jump!|
So next we moved on to another portion of the field with some tables and roll tops:
Then we finished up at the water where she started to run out of gas:
Dom was really excited with the ride and what he learned saying he had some great ideas for some exercises for us that would get her thinking and help her with the jump he wanted her to get. He said he thinks some of it is lack of strength so it will come with some patience.
He also said he insists on riding her a few more times sprinkled throughout the rest of the season even in some show jumping. I cant even tell you how grateful I am for the opportunities we have had this year and the ability to work with such awesome professionals. I really attribute everything this year to them.
So with a huge sigh of relief and some excitement, I am so thrilled for Tillie and more proud than words can say. Not only did she bounce back from last weekend, she totally was a rock star for Dom. It makes me really proud of the work we have put in and helps validate some of what I have been feeling under saddle. I am so excited for the rest of the season!