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Update: First time schooling XC--Rats! Canceled.

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  • Update: First time schooling XC--Rats! Canceled.

    Well, shoot the school got canceled due to the unmown conditions. Rats. I had my big girl panties tugged up and ready to go. SIL said we'll go another time, so I guess I'll pop over the logs in the pasture at the barn, and keep working on my jumper/medal/derby skills.

    Gulp! My SIL (experienced eventer) has invited me (chicken low level hunter) to go school BN this weekend. Now, my horse is a packer and will jump naturals/liverpools/etc. but...I've never really done more than walk or trot out in the field and I've hopped over a couple of logs and a bank. Am I insane to say yes, I'd love to go! Because that's what I'm going to do I'm looking for good advice for the first time out schooling.

    I have a vest that I wear already (Rodney Powell), I'm pretty darn secure up to 2'9", my horse has never done water or ditches (so I think we'll avoid those until we know what we've got), and we'll be with a group of BN/N riders (my SIL is Prelim and is going to get out and about).

    I've reached the age where I am quite happy saying no when I'm feeling insecure in my riding or overfaced. Help me be as ready as I can be! I know my dear SIL will have me outfitted (switching my standing for a running, bits available for upping my stopping power, cold drinks, cheer leading and liniment for both horse and rider, and maybe a nice glass of wine when it's all over)
    Last edited by Calvincrowe; Jul. 12, 2012, 12:55 AM.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

  • #2
    Nothing insane about it - and nothing worth getting wrapped around the axle, either.

    The majority of jumps out in the field will be small logs or little coops/houses/brush boxes. These are all pretty similar to things you've done in the ring, and the jump is the same, canter up to them, keep your leg on and your shoulders up, and be prepared for them to take a peek just like you would to a spooky fence in the ring. Don't make big changes in how you ride to the jump - think of it as much less of a big deal than you might otherwise, and you'll be fine for a first time out. Most horses find XC jumps, particularly the intro/BN ones, more inviting and straight forward than a stadium oxer built of rails, and most of them jump these kinds of questions without even thinking about it (so long as we let them - if we wrap ourselves into a ball of nerves and pick-pick-pick down to it, things get more interesting, but if we treat them just as matter of factly as we would an oxer in the ring, they do as well).

    As for water, usually when XC schooling, we'll let them walk in a circle into and out of the water, putting the less experienced horses in the middle of the group. They walk in, maybe stand for a moment in the water and get a pat, and walk out and repeat. If that goes well, then repeat at the trot. The idea once again is that water is no big deal, and that this is fun and interesting and their friends are all doing it.

    Honestly, think of this as going out for a fun hack out in the field, maybe popping over a few jumps for hoots and giggles. Keeping yourself relaxed and thinking this is a fun way to keep doing what I do inthe ring comfortably already will go miles toward keeping your horse comfortable and enjoying his day as well. Have a blast!


    • #3
      I just helped a Hunter rider take her first xc school on her green OTTB last month, they had a blast! Just remember to sit up and leg on, don't over analyze!

      Bring a good whip and spurs, always have weapons at the ready! Find a neckstrap of some sort, either neckloop of martingale, breastplate or stirrup leather, help keep you in the saddle for those oh crap moments. As for water, if your SIL isn't evil, you guys should just walk into it and play around as a group and then work up to trotting/cantering through. Ditches get a bad rep, again SIL should have you walk over baby ditches to start if you or the horse have never seen one. Just don't get up in 2 point for them or look down, soft hands/arms and sit up.

      I think you'll find that you and your horse won't mind jumping higher fences (Novice goes up to 2'11") because they are usually so solid, it doesn't seem all that intimidating from the saddle. But have a good time, I'm sure it won't be your last!


      • #4
        Have fun!!! I was raised a hunter princess and am now trying out eventing and love it. I admit I get nervous on XC and I am sure it is not a big help to my green pony but she loves the jumping so much she goes for it anyway. She does tend to stop at the first look at a jump but then go over, so I just ride defensively. Sounds like you have a good setup going with some other BNs and your SIL who is very experienced. As for the water I didn't make a big deal out of it the first time and we have been a few more times and she is getting better with it each time. There will be very little ditches you can try and bet you have success. Coolest thing to me is how quickly they figure out what the start box is. (definitely a good thing to practice) If you are riding a hunter packer I bet you have no worries. Watch out you will get hooked!


        • #5
          Are you going up to NWEC?

          If you remember that video of my big guy from this spring, that's where we were at - and as you can see, there are plenty of little logs and basic fences (< 2'9") to play with. NWEC's water complex is really nice for introducing babies, and it shouldn't be particularly deep this time of year - very large, lots of entrances, and if you're with a group you'll probably have a good lead horse if he needs some confidence to go in.

          Have fun! I'm jealous!


          • #6
            That's about as ideal a setup for your first time XC school as can happen.

            If you get brave about water and/or ditches, let your horse follow your sister's horse at first.
            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


            • Original Poster

              Thank you--I'm not actually nervous...yet!

              Heinz- we are doing Lincoln Creek, as I think the PC kids are doing the one days there in August. I'm just going along because I need to tug up my big girl riding panties and try something new!

              SIL is not evil, thank goodness. Her boy is super brave and a good egg, so I think we'll try whatever we can. I've introduced a young horse, years ago, to water by the walk in with a group method, so I get that concept and will use it.

              Neck strap! Got it! Great idea.

              Picking to fences, my specialty Must repeat my "no pickin' mantra" while out there.

              I'm starting to get excited!!
              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


              • #8
                SIL chiming in!

                So thank you for all your very well thought out replies to my SIL! I will definitely take good care of her. No falling off allowed and if all she does is trot and canter around the field around the jumps then that is all she does. Although knowing her she will try. She breaks too easily so it will be as low key as she wants it to be. She has been bugging me to take her schooling so here we go! My horse is pretty mellow (except at the shows) so he is a good lead and we will take it easy peasy. We will be with a group of BN/Novice riders.

                GotSpots you are right on about treating the jumps like you are in a ring. It is no big deal and the less you make of it the better. We are going to Lincoln Creek and it is pretty flat so not a lot of terrain to deal with and in fact the footing is usually so good there that you don't even really need studs.

                Depending on how it goes we will do the water but I can't remember what their ditches are like so we may pass on those this time and if she is hooked and wants to come back for more we can try those next time!

                I am sure she will report back in full CC mode!


                • Original Poster

                  Ahhh.... that's my best friend there folks! I do love my SIL. She puts up with my lack of bravery most happily. I am really truly excited to go--it is time to spread my wings.

                  I am pointing my horse at medals and derbies now, so a little CC schooling is perfect I think. I've qualified for the Mini Medal Finals in August so I need to perfect my "natural" fence riding--I saw what they set this last weekend when I attended an A show at the same facility where they'll be held.

                  Shoulders up, no picking, take it slow but forward. I can do this!!
                  Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                  • #10
                    Some words of encouragement from a fell pansy hunter rider that did this fairly recently with my green-ish horse- you'll love it!! The jumps themselves aren't that much different from jumping in the ring. Take your time to let you and your horse get comfortable. My horse was a little looky about things at first, so I took plenty of time to trot around and by the jumps until she settled (and I felt confident). You can realistically trot the BN and smaller jumps, so if trotting the jumps makes you feel better and keeps you from picking, I say have at it. I trotted many of the jumps first so I wouldn't get worried about distances and start picking.

                    Just do what you're comfortable with, I predict you'll surprise yourself. I didn't try any ditches, but I did ultimately succeed at many different logs, coops, and things that looked like little houses as well as an up bank. I didn't try the down bank because I wasn't sure how to ride it and didn't want to start something I didn't know how to finish properly. It was tons of fun- have a blast!! You'll be fine and your horse will probably love it. My mare had a big smile on her face pretty much the whole time. My other word of advice (this is obvious, but I'll say it anyway) start with the easy things and once you are both thinking forward, then try things that look a little harder.

                    Editing to add- you may want to shorten your stirrups a little and don't be afraid to put your feet on the dashboard a little for some added security.


                    • #11
                      Oh, you'll have fun. Lincoln Creek is a good place to start out! And lurker, one of these days I'll have to introduce myself when we're at the same event - Calvin tells me your crowd knows how to party. Now I just need to get one of my horses going well enough to make a BN debut this fall.

                      (PS- Calvin! I think I have my paint horse sold!)


                      • #12
                        Everyone else has posted great advice. I'm surprised nobody suggested you have that "nice glass of wine" BEFORE you get on...:-) Have a blast, you'll be great.
                        Be sure to report back when it is all done...
                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                        • #13
                          [QUOTE=Heinz 57;6431245]Oh, you'll have fun. Lincoln Creek is a good place to start out! And lurker, one of these days I'll have to introduce myself when we're at the same event /QUOTE]

                          I 2nd Lincoln Creek, very good place for a first school. Lots of lower level jumps.

                          Hi Lurker! how's your gorgeous guy doing? Belvedere I mean You braided my pony at Aspen last year.
                          Yogurt - If you're so cultured, how come I never see you at the opera? Steven Colbert


                          • #14
                            Another thumbs up on Lincoln. Lovely location for a first outing. Low key and inviting.

                            Have a blast!


                            • Original Poster

                              Our outing was canceled. Not sure why (I'm just along for the ride..pun intended!), but something about mowing not done. Ah, so...there'll be another time.
                              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                              • #16
                                Bummer! Go gallops some fields!


                                • #17
                                  That's ok...You've got the taste of blood. There's no going back now.


                                  • #18
                                    Was it a group lesson, or just a group outing? Y'all could always head to NWEC or Caber instead.