It was funny reading my friend's blog post about our ride last night. It never fails to amaze me how the exact same situation can appear so differently through another person's eyes. In her blog, she talks about seeing things through her "hunter princess eyes" - in other words, not seeing a telephone pole or a natural ditch as a possible cross country obstacle. Well, that is exactly what happened last night.
We were out on one of our hacks, which we have been incorporating into our riding routine every 2nd or 3rd day to keep the eventer pony brains from frying. It has been working wonders for them mentally, as well as getting them better conditioned. We typically ride down the wide shoulders on the quieter country roads around the farm. That still amazes me, because I remember friends leaving the old farm on a trail ride and thinking I would NEVER ride outside the farm. It never fails to amaze me how much of the old fear I have managed to leave behind. Anyway, we did some nice long trot sets and then headed back to the power lines to do a little hillwork. April had a tiny meltdown when Linkin left her in the dust, but this time I know it was isolated to the fact that she is in heat and tends to obsess over "her" boy Linkin - it wasn't me shutting her down on this occasion. We dealt with a few plant and spin moves, I got my stirrup back after losing one, made her focus back on a few trot circles, and then I let her go forward to join Linkin ahead. As we started cantering up the power lines, I found the perfect little ditch and we hopped it seamlessly. Before long, we were schooling back and forth, and cantering up and down the rolling terrain. We added in a telephone pole element we discovered, so it was a hop across the ditch, up a little bank, then a bending line to the telephone poles.
April is a BLAST cross country! This was our first little taste of cross country, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. She picks up a beautiful rhythm out in the open and doesn't even try to rush the fences. It is forward but very calm and rhythmic. I cannot WAIT to get somewhere where we can school even more!
Speaking of eventing. I feel I would be remiss if I didn't take a mini defense for the sport of eventing; in response to a blog post I read earlier this week. Basically, the person was insinuating that eventers put their horses in danger because of their personal need for an adrenaline rush. I take major issue with that reasoning. You cannot attack a sport because injuries happen or some riders put their horses in danger. That happens in every discipline. It would be like me attacking the hunter world because a few big dog hunter trainers are pounding their horses in the ground by the time they are three, just to make a buck. Every sport has it's issues, but I can guarantee you, my horse was made for the eventing world. There is no sport better suited to her. If I tried to stick her in a hunter ring, I would be fighting a losing battle over the fact that she lifts her head to the fence and doesn't go around in a hunter frame. If I tried to foxhunt her, she would probably kill both of us. In other worlds, she would be a crazy horse. I think a true horseperson knows when to follow the needs of their horse. If that means you have to leave a discipline and venture out into something different, THAT is when you are riding for the benefit of your horse. You don't slap a stronger bit in their mouth to try to cram them around a course in a job they were never made to do, and then insult the sport they would most likely excell in simply because you have too much fear to venture outside your comfort zone. Believe me - I can say that through personal experience. Sure, I started out in the eventing world through my pony club roots. But a year ago, if you asked me if I could see myself going cross country, I would have told you not just no, but HELL no. I could barely go around the lane without breaking into a cold sweat. But learning to shed my fear and build a partnership with my horse has allowed me to start venturing back into the eventing world, and thank goodness, because it is where my horse belongs. Not to mention, how can you insult a sport as versatile as eventing, where horse and rider display finesse in dressage, boldness cross country, and then preciseness in show jumping? Horses born for eventing are true athletes and should be appreciated for their talents. I do agree that we, as their riders, need to take the utmost precaution in caring for them and not putting them into danger, because as the poster said - we are responsible for their well-being, and we must hold ourselves to a high standard in that regard.