We schooled at the same place we ride with the hounds - the hunt owners have their own private cross-country course, and invited the hunt regulars out for a schooling day. It's a gorgeous facility with loads of jumping options. My plan for the day was to keep it simple, low-key, and positive. I wanted to try a few of the very smallest logs, go through the water a few times if he was having a good day, and stay on my horse. The last being the most important, naturally!
When we arrived and unloaded, Echo promptly forgot all of his manners that we've been working on since he came home. He pawed and bit his lead rope. He swung his butt around into me. He tried to walk on me. Oh well, more stuff to work on. I opted to longe him before getting on, and boy was that ever a good idea. He was very naughty to the right (his worst side), trying to stop and turn around. This is something we've mostly fixed at home, but of course in a new setting everything's a different story. We longed to the right, then left (he was an angel), then right again, which was much better the second go-round. He'd worked up quite a lather, so we went to the washrack for a quick hose-down. Then we headed off to join the rest of the riders, who had already done a nice warm-up loop around the property.
There were four horses in our group, including MC on Reddums (I suckered her into going along). We started off with a nice group trot around the XC field. Echo was STARING at the round bales, which resulted in some interesting lateral moves! Otherwise he trotted VERY nicely with the group, and never tried to barge ahead or anything. I rode him on a light contact and he was really quite a happy camper, other than the silly round bales. The jumps also required the old hairy eyeball, which was a bit of cause for concern. Fortunately it was all the BIG jumps that he looked at and not the tiny logs!
After our five-minute warm-up trot (GEEZ I am out of shape!!!), we started jumping. The first fence was a teeny, 9-inch log. Unfortunately, Echo didn't read the memo that he could actually jump such a thing, and sort of swerved out to the right while eyeballing the slightly larger fence to the left. I caught him before he could blow past it, and we came around again. The second time he lost speed in front of it, but we had a lead over it so he took it. We came around several more times and although we had some steering and forward issues, he went over it very nicely. I need to work on my right leg, that's for sure!
The second fence was a slightly larger log, and we again had issues with him trying to duck past it on the right - mostly because he was staring at the much larger fence on the left, which was a trakhener. He jumped it twice on the very right side of it (there were no flags), and then we had a horse stand on the right as a jump standard. After that he was fine over it.
The third fence was another log, this on with another fence on the right. I found it much easier to keep him straight over it, and we had a couple of lovely jumps. I also found my lady balls and tried cantering the fences, with fabulous results:
By that time, it was getting pretty hot, and we're both out of shape. Two of the other riders went off for a bit of canter work over larger fences, but MC and I opted to go down to the water for our last jump of the day. Red led the way in the first few goes, and then Echo was feeling bold enough to try it on his own. Turns out, he loves water! Not only did he trot through happily, but he also cantered through very nicely! We even cantered over a log on our way out the last few times, and he was really a star!
Through the water, over the log on the right. WE ROCKED IT!!!
Red was, shall we say, not as good in the water. I've never seen a horse go from trotting to rolling in the mud quite so fast. He just sort of dropped out from under MC as she was going through. Bad, BAD PONY! At least it was a soft (if somewhat squishy) landing, and everyone was fine, if a bit soggy.
As a first-ever cross-country outing, I'd say it was a success! I think the first fences would have gone better had I ridden more forward, but we both definitely improved as we went on. Although he was looky, he held his shit together, and he was good in a group. Everyone commented on what a nice boy he was and how well he did - it's really nice to ride with such a supportive group, especially for our first outing.
Hellooo? Future event star needs more carrots.
Tomorrow we have a dressage lesson with a new trainer, so hopefully that works out well. I apparently need to find my right leg aid - it would have been handy today, that's for sure! So excited!