On Sunday I hauled Henry down to a new-to-us place for some XC schooling. Independence Foxhounds is, as you may gather from the name, homebase for one of the foxhunts in Texas. I never knew that they had a whole XC course at their facility though – and an awesome one at that. They have a full course of jumps from Starter through Training, including three different bank complexes (an Irish, a sunken road, and a double bank), a trakehner, some combos, and water. The terrain was open with some rolling hills – Henry’s favorite (ok, mine too). I really really loved it.
To be honest I was a little worried about how this school would go. I really hadn’t jumped in a couple months, so on Friday I set up a little Novice sized stadium course at home. It was shit. I don’t mean like kinda shitty, I mean like I forgot how to ride completely. I’m glad there were no witnesses. Poor Henry. So when I climbed aboard on Sunday I figured there was probably a 50/50 chance I would die.
As we trotted around the field to warmup, Henry entertained himself by spooking at all the Starter fences. Apparently the smaller they are, the scarier they are. Don’t mind my big brave Training horse, guys, he’s just over here trotting sideways past the 1′ tall telephone pole while snorting loudly. Trainer thought she was really funny when she gave us our warmup course that involved trotting the first Starter fence each way before cantering the first fence of every other level. Henry was rightfully terrified of the tiny pole but leapt over it. The N and T first fences were much less scary, he said.
After our warmup we started stringing together more fences, and I did my patented pull and lean to the second one (causing a really impressive bunny hop over it because #hennyisasaint) before I pulled my head out of my ass and let my horse keep coming forward. Amazing how much better things work when you do that. He was a champ over all the T fences and especially at a 3 stride rolltop to rolltop bending line. He was hunting the jumps and taking me to them, and we quickly got our mojo back.
Until we got to the bank complexes. Sigh. That stupid Irish bank at Pine Hill has really killed his confidence at banks. He wasn’t being naughty, he just genuinely is super confused by banks now and doesn’t trust them. He couldn’t figure out the down, so I got off and lunged him up and down it a few times. Once he popped down a couple times, it all clicked for him again. I got back on and didn’t have a single problem at any of the banks for the rest of the day. The sunken road was FUN (first time doing one of those!) and he happily popped up and down the double. Obviously we still have a problem that we need to keep working on though.
Henry also tackled the water like a machine (it’s honestly kind of weird how much he likes water, he actually SPEEDS UP to it) with a jump in, bending line to a jump out. The Trakehner was no problem either, or the bench or the rolltop or the table that I wanted to throw up on. I really hate tables. Especially square ones. I want to burn them all. But I didn’t pull and Henry jumped the snot out of it, so all was fine. Apparently his mental block is banks and mine is tables.
Overall it was a very useful schooling. First, we discovered an awesome new facility. Second, we know we haven’t solved the bank issue yet. Third, all of the jumps felt easy and nothing looked particularly big. It’s nice to be able to say that about Training fences. And fourth, we actually jumped again. Probably a good thing considering I entered Training at a benefit show in two weeks.