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View Full Version : schooling XC for the first time - who rides?



mustangsal85
Jun. 16, 2011, 12:39 PM
I am pointing my horse to a mini-event this fall to do the baby, baby division to see how my horse likes eventing. He was donated to Auburn as an ex-hunt horse but I am not sure of the reasons he was donated.. he could have been a giant FAIL at hunting which may not translate well into doing eventing but I want to see how he does.

My question is since I am myself not too experienced with XC having only done a few small events when I was in high school, am I the best person to take him schooling for the first time? To my knowledge he has never jumped an XC fence and I do not know what he was faced with in hunting or to what extent he did it. Are my mistakes going to cost us an educational ride and a good experience? Or would it be better to have a more seasoned XC rider take him around some small stuff once?

Looking forward to hearing your opinions! I want my horse to enjoy XC and I don't want to get in his way but at the same time I know I can get him around, I just don't want to make a mistake and take away his confidence.

sheltona01
Jun. 16, 2011, 01:37 PM
My opinion is if you have to ask this question, it is best to get a pro to take him around for the first time. You really want him to have a great experience especially if you have questions about how he will react.

I would maybe talk to someone who you could go schooling with you. If he is being perfect for them, then you can jump on and have a mini lesson. However, I am a chicken and bought an older been there done that type of horse for me to learn.

Big_Grey_hunter
Jun. 16, 2011, 01:45 PM
I've never been x-country schooling, but IMO there is no clear cut answer. A nervous, green horse with a long memory should probably be ridden by a pro. A well trained, confident horse (perhaps trained in a different discipline) probably won't care about missed spots and rider nervousness.

When in doubt, go with the pro. If *you* doubt your ability to give the horse the ride it needs it's first time out, your horse will follow your lead and doubt your ability.

RAyers
Jun. 16, 2011, 01:48 PM
Part of being a good XC horse is being able to take a joke and put up with our mistakes. A pro could take him around and give him the most happy, joy, joy feelings but that does little to help you. If you are having fun and even if you make mistakes, your horse will have fun and try for you.

This is an ex hunt horse he knows what to do! Stop taking this so seriously. Enjoy your horse. Make mistakes and laugh about it. Have beers ready for when you are done!

The first time I ever did XC and took a horse to its first XC, I rode and made all sorts of mistakes. Then I went and did it again. And again. And again. Until we both got it right (of course I was I think 10 years old at the time).

I honestly don't understand what ever happened to just bombing around an XC course with friends and whooping it up? That is as much a training and learning experience as any pro can give.

Reed

cnvh
Jun. 16, 2011, 01:55 PM
I am certainly no eventing expert, but I've been to a couple of starter trials; I restarted my OTTB myself, and my first XC schooling was his first XC schooling too. It went pretty well.

With that being said, we did a whole lot of "pre-schooling" at home-- tons and tons of trail rides, walking and eventually trotting/cantering over every sort of obstacle we could find (logs, tarps, barrels, creeks, puddles, etc.), so by the time we actually went to a "real" XC facility to school, most of that stuff was already been-there/done-that.

riderboy
Jun. 16, 2011, 03:06 PM
Once again I think Reed has some great points, however, since you are admittedly inexperienced XC I would defer to either a pro or a really good rider that you trust because: 1). You're not sure what this guy is going to pull, and 2) Ensure that his first XC schooling is a good experience for him. Just my .02 cents.

Hilary
Jun. 16, 2011, 03:40 PM
Thank you Reed!!

Go out with your horse and one or 2 friends who know what they are doing. Too many people can get hectic but horses like buddies. Have a nice ride out in the open and if you feel like jumping that little log, go do it.

If it goes well, jump it again, and then to that other log over there.

THAT is an ideal "first XC school". No need to tackle water, ditches and the double bank down on the first day. You'll get to that stuff.

If this horse really was a hunt horse, he's been out in the open and jumped a log or 3. If your group keeps it low key he is not likely to get wound up and re-live Ireland.

Go enjoy your horse and your friends. XC is supposed to be fun. Yes, we get all fired up about safety, so wear your helmet and your vest and bring a cell phone and only do what you are comfortable doing. If you are going to ride the horse in this upcoming event you need the practice too.

mustangsal85
Jun. 16, 2011, 03:44 PM
Thanks guys. :) I tend to psych myself out about stuff like this and I'm always paranoid about ruining him but I need to get over it!

Moody Mare
Jun. 16, 2011, 03:46 PM
Nothing wrong with letting your trainer or more experienced person 'introduce' your horse to XC the first time. They likely have a little more insight (one would hope ;)) as to what horses tend to bug-out at on XC, and may be more readily prepared to deal with those issues if they arise. This way your horse hopefully has a more positive experience and looks forward to the next time, with you!
Good Luck.

RAyers
Jun. 16, 2011, 05:27 PM
I just want to add that this is a baby division. You can trot or even WALK any trouble fences. It is going to be pretty hard to make a horrendous mistake (assuming you have jumped before at least once or twice. ;) )

I always worry about ruining my horses too but at least I am the one giving them the baggage and not my trainers. ;)

The first event I ever did was at training level (there was no lower division). My friends and I spent our time betting each other about what fence we could and could not do. Have fun with it. You can be safe. You can train and grow your horse but first and foremost trust yourself and have a ball. If you have an issue, you work with a trainer subsequently. (This method also saves you a lot of money.)

cnvh is right. If you do the prep work at home, XC is a no brainer at the low levels. There is nothing you see out there that s not duplicated in an arena (especially if you have a water fence at home). A log is a vertical. A small table is an oxer. A corner is an oxer/fan. A weldon's wall is a vertical with the ground line pulled out. A ditch is a gate laid on its side on the ground. And so forth.

Event4Life
Jun. 16, 2011, 05:31 PM
I just want to add that this is a baby division. You can trot or even WALK any trouble fences. It is going to be pretty hard to make a horrendous mistake (assuming you have jumped before at least once or twice. ;) )

I always worry about ruining my horses too but at least I am the one giving them the baggage and not my trainers. ;)

The first event I ever did was at training level (there was no lower division). My friends and I spent our time betting each other about what fence we could and could not do. Have fun with it. You can be safe. You can train and grow your horse but first and foremost trust yourself and have a ball. If you have an issue, you work with a trainer subsequently. (This method also saves you a lot of money.)

Amen to old school! I rode both my horses X Country the first time. One had been before, but not for a good couple of years (he was a BTDT type but had been turned out for a few yrs before I bought him). The other had hunted but never been XC before. They both did great, despite that I rode the first for my first time X Country too. In fact, on both horses I was giving leads to other riders during our first outing. Go out and have fun - don't put pressure on yourself, take an experienced pair with you, and you'll be fine.

enjoytheride
Jun. 16, 2011, 05:56 PM
I was probably nervous enough to vomit the first time I went XC schooling and my horse was wound tighter then a top. Eventually I listened to my trainer and we had a good schooling and I learn a ton about my mistakes. I would have been happy to have her ride my horse around, but I wouldn't have learned anything and it would not have made me braver the time I actually did it.

What I would do is to have another rider who can hop on your horse if there are problems, and stick to easy small fences.

kkindley
Jun. 16, 2011, 06:31 PM
I agree with Reed! Go with a small group of friends that are knowledgeable. Walk around, trot around, point at this log or that and have fun! Don't worry about having a bad spot, etc. there is nothing I love better than an impromptu x-c school at home with good friends just going out and daring each other to jump stuff!

besum1
Jun. 16, 2011, 06:32 PM
a lot of the time 'failed" hunt horses didn't fail b/c of the terrain- usually they didn't like the mass group senerio or the hounds. I had an AWESOME xc horse growing up (even my trainer loved taking him xc!) but the thought of taking him out with the hounds would of been like signing my own death certificate.

So if I were you I'd take your guy xc and just see how it goes. Go with a friend/trainer that could jump on your guy if he starts acting up and can finish schooling him for you. You said you just want to do the baby stuff so that should be pretty simple to try out with your guy- go jump some logs, walk through the water, and find yourself a shallow ditch to school over :) But a baby course probably won't have any ditches or banks- or if they do they'll be so tiny and insignificant that an old hunt horse will think nothing of it :)

good luck with your guy!

RAyers
Jun. 16, 2011, 06:45 PM
Bring wine, beer, sodas, cheese crackers, fruits and assorted meats and have a post XC school social hour while everyone recovers. We used to do this whenever we had new riders go out with us at an old barn I rode at. We made the whole thing social. The only rule was:

Jump what you want, when you want. You don't even have to jump. Just have fun. You whine you go back to the truck and wait.

Some of my best schooling memories are times like that.

Cameraine
Jun. 16, 2011, 07:12 PM
Everyone has great advice. Take the bits and pieces and make up your own ride. Take some one confident if you get to something that you feel you can't handle. but the object of it all is to have fun. No one would put out the money that we do these days especially with gas prices so high if what we did wasn't fun. We all make mistakes but most horses are really forgiving.

The first time I had schooled xc with my new trainer after moving to the east coast I was trying out a horse to buy at the place where we were schooling. I was so nervous and wound up that I tried to mount up on the wrong side of the horse. But thankfully one of the other riders at that barn helped me out and told me to take a deep breath.

I didn't end up buying the horse, although he was really nice, and I didn't get to do most of the really cool xc jumps my trainers other students were doing because my horse was a bit too forward for me, but we had fun doing what we could and I learned a lot watching the others do the bigger stuff.

Bottom line, have fun, be safe.

mustangsal85
Jun. 17, 2011, 09:20 AM
a lot of the time 'failed" hunt horses didn't fail b/c of the terrain- usually they didn't like the mass group senerio or the hounds. I had an AWESOME xc horse growing up (even my trainer loved taking him xc!) but the thought of taking him out with the hounds would of been like signing my own death certificate.

So if I were you I'd take your guy xc and just see how it goes. Go with a friend/trainer that could jump on your guy if he starts acting up and can finish schooling him for you. You said you just want to do the baby stuff so that should be pretty simple to try out with your guy- go jump some logs, walk through the water, and find yourself a shallow ditch to school over :) But a baby course probably won't have any ditches or banks- or if they do they'll be so tiny and insignificant that an old hunt horse will think nothing of it :)

good luck with your guy!


Thanks! Yeah I wish I knew why he didn't make it as a hunt horse. I know he was only like 4 1/2 when he got donated so I'm sure they asked too much of him maybe. But the trail rides we have been on he's great by himself or with one other but when we have a small group he gets all fired up and can't stand to not lead so maybe that is coming from his hunting days.

scubed
Jun. 17, 2011, 09:49 AM
Do it yourself. It is the most fun ever. Pretty much have to agree with what Reed said.

besum1
Jun. 17, 2011, 06:38 PM
sounds like he got his mind "blown" and probably taken out on a drag or put into 1st field before he was ready- sadly this happens (not to dis hunting, hunting is awesome- just bad riding!!!)- BUT the good news is he can still be an awesome eventer :)

We use to have one of the most amazing school horses in our program- you could put anyone on his back and he would babysit them, pack them around a xc/sj course, trot around the dressage arena, teach them how to post- you name it he did it! EXCEPT hunt! He turned into Mr. Hyde as soon as he heard the hounds/horn- so after a couple of exciting/not fun hunts he was "retired" and never taken out again on a hunt! But remained one of the greatest school ponies ever :) He was a character and to this day people that knew him still ask about him and then we all laugh at the funny stories he created :)

eponacowgirl
Jun. 17, 2011, 11:51 PM
If I'm pretty confident the horse isn't going to blow a gasket, I let my students take them out the first time.

If I'm pretty sure my student can't handle the "walk him up to it... don't let him turn away... now make him step over... good!" then I take them out. I told an adult student of mine "You can teach him to be a stopper pretty quick on his first time out and then I'll have to fix it... or I can take him around for five minutes, teach him its fun and then he can teach YOU its fun and we'll be okay!"

fooler
Jun. 18, 2011, 04:20 AM
In addition to the other suggestions, just take your horse out on trail rides. Go out with folks on more experienced horses which will settle your horse and they can provide leads through water, etc.

Take time to enjoy your horse while you prepare for future competitions!