April and I were called for the first group, and as I tacked up the tension started mounting. All the little fears started to build up in my head - what if I can't handle her cross country? What if I fall off? On and on it went as I tacked her up and zipped up my cross country vest. It must have translated to my face, because Robyn told me to take a deep breath as I mounted up. I did, and we started with a quick warmup on the flat. She chugged around with me at first, but it didn't take long to settle things into a smooth pace. From there, we headed over to a series of gridwork - six big logs set about a one stride distance apart. I have never schooled so many little bounces in one grid - it was a blast! By the time we finished the grid, any tension I was previously feeling had melted away.
From there we moved on to a bending line of black tubes, and Kelsey had us working on using our core to regulate tempo while in the half seat postion. I was amazed at how sensitive April was to the little changes I made with my body. The second time over the bending line I tightened my core and brought myself to a more upright position. Immediately she came up underneath me and stayed in perfect stride to the next fence. From there we moved on to so many other things - banks, ditches, sunken road, water...it flew by in almost a blur, we were having so much fun. At one point, Kelsey left us to school over a ditch while she went to tell the next group to start tacking up. While she was gone, I snuck in a training level trakehner-type fence, and we sailed over it easily!
The laugh of the day was the funky ditch (it was wide on one side and narrow on the other - none of the horses liked this particular ditch) to a one stride to a rolltop fence. April thought about stopping at the ditch but ended up leaping over when I insisted, but it left me behind. I didn't have enough time across the one stride to rearrange myself, so when she launched over the coop I was left with no stirrups, no reins, and was completely off balance to the left. Just as I was going off, I decided to make a last ditch effort to stay on. I wrapped my arms around her neck (thanks Karen O'Connor, I learned this one from your video!!!!) and clung to her for a stride before managing to pull myself back in the saddle. I swear to you - that mare helped fling me back in the saddle. I'm not even kidding. Even Sarah, the other participant in our group, swears she saw April shift her balance to help save me. What a saint!!!!!
So, it would appear we tackled a big accomplishment last weekend, and now we get to start putting all the elements together and plan for an actual competition. I am hoping to keep honing my photography skills to help fundraise for competition - so cross your fingers that a few projects on the horizon end up working out!!!
|The Water Complex at Gibbes|
(left to right) Kelsey on Jazz; Ashley on Eros, Sarah on Jonah, and Me on April (& Laura wading around!!)
|We survived cross country day!!! April, Me, Ashley (& Eros!), & Sarah|