Monday, June 7, 2010

Mac's First XC Schooling!

I asked Colin if I could officially call it an XC schooling, since we didn't actually "jump" but we did a lot of the types of obstacles one would find on an XC course: up bank, water, log, ditch.

Colin's eventing trainer hosted an XC clinic this weekend and I thought it would be fun to bring Mac along for his first outing. It was at Eventful Acres, a place not too far from us, and one of my favorite places to be in the whole world. The clinic was scheduled for two days - Saturday Colin rode with Jackie and Sunday he rode with her friend (and fellow eventing trainer) Val. We did this same clinic last year and had a lot of fun. Last year we even did karaoke, which I swore I would never in my lifetime be caught doing but enough booze will make one do stupid things, and won the karaoke contest! This year I did not ride with the trainers in the class but brought Mac along to expose him to new things.

We got there on Sunday morning to set up camp and get ready for the ride at 1:30. On Saturday I did ride with Colin's class, but I just stood on the sidelines watching and walking around and letting Mac see all there was to see. He was a good boy. We only walked but we did walk through the creek and over some small poles on the ground.

Saturday the Tomato was a bit spicy so Colin made a plan for a longer warm-up on Sunday afternoon before his ride. I planned on riding Mac by himself on Sunday so he would know that he sometimes has to leave his friends and work and they'll be there when he gets back (and vice versa - when his friends leave him to work, they'll come back when they're done).

Before we left for the camp, I mentioned to Colin that wouldn't it be great if an adapter existed that you could plug into your cigarette lighter and have an electrical outlet for making coffee. I can do without a lot of accoutrement, like a flushing toilet, shower, hair dryer, my own bed, but I've done without coffee on our little horse camping trips long enough. Colin said that something like that does exist and it is called an inverter so on Sunday morning, he got us all set up to make coffee!

I don't know what he did but he opened the hood and hooked this thing up so that we could have our morning cuppa joe. Notice the coffee pot set up and can tell by the red light on the coffee maker! Ok, maybe the photo is too small to see the red light, but it is there. Further evidence is that we had awesome coffee in the morning - I don't think coffee has ever tasted so good! We sat and watched people warm up for their lessons while drinking coffee and enjoying the morning. There's no where else I would have rather been!
I decided I would ride at 9 a.m. before it got too hot. I groomed and tacked up Mac and off we went into the wild blue yonder. Ok, it was more of a densley-treed area with grass on the ground and jumps all around, but you get the picture.

Mac was good walking away from camp but he did start calling to Tomato a bit once we got past the point where he could see him or feel comfortable knowing that he was around. That's ok, we had plenty of work to do and I hoped that work would occupy his mind more than the location of his friend.

We started with a short walk through the woods to scope out where all the riding groups were. At that time the water was not being used so that's where we went. Mac wasn't too sure that the water was a good place to go - the water was murky and he couldn't see the bottom.

After a bit of coaxing, though, he went in and had a big splash!

We then moved on to the up bank and first went up and down the sloped side of it and followed that with actually going UP the banked part of it.

We went toward the creek to cross it and I think Mac realized we were leaving (although we were already far from) his friends. He turned and ran the other way! Naughty pony. So we had to school up and down some "pimple" bumps in the arena and then we headed to the creek again.

The creek crossing can be scary for horses because they are going from a wide-open space that is bright and airy into a dark, shaded, steep downhill and uphill area. Mac hesitated a bit but then went down and up with no problems - he was great! As we got on the other side of the creek into the front pasture area there were people schooling in that immediate area so we moved over to another spot where we did some circles at the trot.

We did trot circles then walked over a log then trotted more circles in the other direction and walked over the log again. Then we trotted over the log! Doesn't sound very exciting, but it was fun! He didn't jump the log, he just trotted over it. Colin got some video so when he has a chance to put it up I'll add it in here.

We then went to the up bank in that area - this up bank was a little bigger than the first one and he did really well. Colin got video on that, too. He also got video of us going in that water.

At that point I had been on for almost an hour and he had done a LOT of stuff, so we called it a day. He walked back through the creek easily and without hesitation. He was a VERY GOOD BOY!

I untacked him and cleaned him up and sat in the lounge chair for a break of my own.

I also have to put up some pictures of Colin and the Tomato. Tomato is jumping really well and they worked out a speed issue over the weekend.

Colin has been working hard on his release and he's looking really good!

Tomato is very difficult to ride and Colin does a really good job with him. Tomato is very fun to jump and will always jump, but it is riding between the jumps and keeping him in the right pace that is difficult.

I'm mad at myself for not checking my camera settings because a lot of my photos didn't have the right aperture or shutter speed. And I'm especially mad because if I had gotten it right on this picture, it would be the best one of all!

All in all we had a great weekend. Pico came with us and was a real trooper, although I think it was very tiring for him. The ponies were really good, we got some fun social time with our riding friends, and we didn't have to do all our at-home farm chores...although they are always waiting for us when we get home!

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