Monday, August 1, 2016

Take that double brush table!

I've been terrible about keeping up my daily blog or rides...lately I have been a bit of a physical disaster with a summer cold or something dragging me down. I am never sick, so when I am, I am bit of a baby about it. I haven't let it stop me from riding though since there is no rest for the wicked ;)

Tillie apparently morphs into a zebra when it rains around here
This week came up really fast amid some of her foot tenderness which luckily has mostly subsided...I feel like we just are getting back into the swing of things and we have some big plans for this week and weekend: Its our big move up to Training Level.

Our lesson Friday night with trainer D who we havent seen in a while
I won't lie in admitting that I am feeling a bit unprepared, mostly I think because we had a lull in riding...but also because my current roster of trainers have been off showing themselves so I havent had my normal lessons. I have snuck in a few with some past trainers or some I havent seen in a while.

I do however trust the training we have put in and feel a whole heck of a lot better when hearing trainer D very nonchalantly tell me we are ready...for him to say that is pretty validating since hes always aired on the side of caution and have told us to wait or hang out at a level if he felt it was needed.

Droopy lip waiting for our lesson
 I realize I need to stop relying on outside sources as validation and believe it myself...which it is coming in waves. I wouldnt exactly say Im lacking confidence, but I am not a fan of the lack of saddle time we have had leading up to this week. At the end of the day, I still am trusting in our training this summer and confident in many ways. We have been working diligently and I know its paying off.

Tillie isnt so sure

The biggest triumph this weekend was the fact Tillie and I conquered the blasted double brush table we fell at earlier in July...not only did we jump it, we did it a few times and not once did Tillie even question or look at it. Clearly she doesnt have any recollection of that particular fence...even if I do. I was happy and slightly terrified to see it the same exact place when we arrived Saturday.

Happy because the question of it wouldnt be nearly as hard if it was moved, but terrified because well its fucking huge and jumping into really dark woods and it didnt end so well for us last time.

Tillie isnt worried at all about anything
It was down pouring as by the time we finished schooling, Tillie and I looked like we had just went for a swim in a lake. I was counting my blessings for being a true horse person with so much crap in their car that I was able to Frankenstein some dry clothes for the very long drive home in the torrential downpour.

Tillie and I both a bit having heebie jeebies at a very empty loch moy

When we first arrived to the XC schooling, it was really strange because of how empty it was. I have only ever been to this facility to compete so its usually hustling and bustling with hundreds of people and horses. Tillie was a bit looky but happily munched on her hay while i put her studs in...which I was very proud of how smoothly it went compared to some recent past attempts.

Ghost town
Once the instructor arrived with a few students in tow it felt a bit less spooky. We warmed up in the ring so jumped what was set, which looked like 2'3 fences maybe a few BN:

I thought Tillie felt pretty darn good despite one long spot going into a two stride where she got a bit flat which is normal for us warming up...shes always good for one flat/launching fence. 

We went out to warm up XC and I felt myself trying to remind myself to stay calm. I realized it was my first time xc schooling since my fall. Tillie was behaved for the most part but man my release is pretty standard arms straight body back...the same old positional flaw that just wont go away as part of my PTSD/defensive riding. 

True to form, the longer we went, the better tillie settled in. We started with the logs, then a roll top to a produce stand and a table looking thing. The biggest thing this instructor kept telling me was I was messing with her too much before the fences...which I know I can be guilty of at times and maybe with my PTSD was doing more...but I just didnt feel 100% great in general about the outing.

Another warm up fence
Once we warmed up we made our way over to THE fence. The instructor had me think more about setting her canter up, half halt and then leave her alone but leg on...basically more forward to the fences and stop trying to wait for that perfect distance. Which I do agree I do...the trainer said she knows its scary to do, but Ill have to let Tillie make those choices more and to stop helping her so much.

Lattice fence leading to the double brush (sadly not pictured)
Coming up to the brush and quick internal dialog was "Yep this is happening, OK we are doing this, ok mare get it!!!" She REALLLY soared over it all three times we did it. On landing I felt myself really absorb the landing with how hard she jumped it. The trainer had us circle back and jump it a total of three times...first time was just do it to get over the fear, second time she had me really work the canter on the approach then be quiet with my hands and really push her at it which was slightly terrifying, then the final time find a happy medium.

The dreaded double brush table i stole offline.

At this point it started to really rain...but we pushed on to jump the training level open oxer in the woods...which I found the exact one on a coursewalk app because it was pretty big in my humble opinion...and Tillie thought so too:

 She sort of looked at it the first time, requiring me to give her a little pop on the shoulder with my the second time she decided she would just try to run at it, which I made her circle and get it together...and she came back at it the next time fine, but it wasnt the perfect distance which the instructor said fine to it and it was educational for her.

We moved on to the bank combo up to a training level house...but by this time it was raining so hard we all were water logged and the footing was starting to get a bit soggy too. But the instructor pressed on for us to gallop over to the water and do a few more things.

She had me do a jump one stride into water...then right away a slightly larger novice jump into water to the island bank up then bank into water.

See the bank behind the huts?

The first time Tille got to the bank down and sorta slammed on the breaks before dropping in...the second time she did it no issue. I think she got a bit surprised by it. We moved on then to a turning jump exercise which Tillie did fine, just got a bit flat to the B element...but trainer said not to do it again with the rain just to be sure to ride just as active to the second element as the first.

Finally we finished with a blue log skinny up a steeper hill..We did that twice and called it a day.

All in all I am proud of Tillie and I needed to get back out there. The pouring rain didnt deter her at all. I am planning to go one more time with Dom this week to windurra just to really feel secure about things (hopefully).


  1. I hope things go well in your soon to be training debut

  2. Yay! Hopefully Dom will boost your confidence because you guys are going to kick butt.