Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

XC Clinic

(from GRS Blog)

So took Sienna to a clinic today; sort of curious to see which of the twins I’d get – that’d be Superpony or Psychopony. Unfortunately I haven’t figured out yet how to tell them apart when loading >;-P

Find random field to park in – but no sign of farm??? Very strange. Somebody who had just finished their ride directed me down the road and across the street. Ummmm ok. Leave pony (whichever one!) on the trailer with her hay and go for a hike to figure out where I’m going.

Find barn, lesson before is just getting started. Watch for a second or two; one friend of mine is riding and I’d really love to stay and watch, while another couple who I’d love to gossip with are sitting watching. But unfortunately poor protocol to gossip while lesson is going on, and I left the pony alone (see above) so wasn’t comfortable hanging out in the arena watching.

Pull Sienna off the trailer and she immediately embarks on her quest for the perfect piece of grass. This is a good sign – Superpony’s interest is food; Psycopony’s interest is ummmm everything else! Have an hour before we need to be in the ring so gradually interrupt the quest to put random pieces of tack on. When it came time to mount she even *almost* stood still :) hahaha

My old coach was there w/ her T horse and a student riding the last horse I started there (who I wanted to buy to take to Denny’s with me last year). So that was sort of entertaining to watch.

Anyways – they’re getting themselves organized and the fourth horse in our group is bouncing around while his owner is tacking up. By this point I’m reasonably certain Superpony has come to play. Woohoo!

So the first half of the clinic is indoors, and within a few seconds of being in there I *know* it’s Superpony today. How? Because our trot was civilized :) hahaha we weren’t tearing around on the very edge of control. Just a nice quiet trot both directions. Occasionally looking at things but generally pretty amazing. Some flat work, working on bending, then trotting poles and eventually trot poles to a little jump. All super-easy for Si, except of course that the bending exercise was off the left and she was definitely in perma-right mode. But not tragic. Clinician gave me some suppling suggestions so will try those @ home. Jumping was no problem. Si was being her superstar self and I never got anything other than a “good” – but that being said, he didn’t seem to be overly picky either. I felt I was riding reasonably well, but that’s easy to do when your horse is being a saint. The one time we jumped off center, which he commented on, but then seemed surprised when I asked if I could do it again.

Actually that was a thread with both clinicians today that I found a little unusual. The first one humoured me and said sure – and later got me to do it once more to prove it wasn’t a fluke :) but the second clinician too would say something was wrong, but then move on before fixing it and I found that a little frustrating. Both were pretty consistent about it though, although none of the other riders asked for the opportunity to correct their mistakes. Said old coach was way underchallenged by the whole thing and her horse is about two years ahead of all the other horses there so there wasn’t a lot for her to do; she did also fix the one thing she got called on. One of the other riders I think was going on the “thank god I survived and he didn’t say anything” theory. She seemed to get through most of the day that way. The last rider was on quite a hot and very athletic horse – I was quite impressed by her because not only did she deal with her mount bouncing around, but she made a genuine effort to implement the changes recommended and got great results. Sienna was not bouncing around so we didn’t really get anything to change. He asked for a line in 6 strides, so we gave him a line in 6 strides. We went over the scary tarp jump – she launched the first time, but after a couple attempts was stepping over it, no effort required. Superpony :) That was another random one I had to ask about (“can we go over that?” puzzled look, “ummm sure” with a shrug. Hahaha I love amusing the clinicians. But why *not* take every advantage to teach her something, esp when in superpony mode?) Our last line we were coming in offstride so I sat up and put her together so she got in fairly deep – it was successful but not overly smooth. I apologized out of habit and he stopped me and told me not to apologize since it was the right decision (well yeah, but it’s a decision that should’ve been made 5 strides earlier). That was another one I wanted to redo, but no go that time because everybody was ready to go cross.

So we switch clinicians and go outside. Great track, amazing footing, pond in the middle. I wish I had that at home :) Start with a trot around the track. NP. Then go around once at PT pace. I was bang on. Hahaha pretty excited about that. I didn’t actually tell the clinician the right number so she doesn’t know that little detail, but when I took the time to look more closely at my watch I discovered it.

So we’re supposed to go again. This time Si was busy shying at stuff for the first section and when I put my leg on and told her to smarten up and go, well she went :) Not actually her fastest by any means but unfortunately significantly faster than PT speed, esp towards home. And not the least bit inclined to stop *sigh* So clinician teaches me her emergency breaking system, which I found reasonably useful later. Will have to work on that one :)

So now there are three fences on the “home stretch” – we’re supposed to gallop around the track and then over the three. Ummmm yeah not such a good idea. Did you miss the “no breaks” part of the last paragraph? I told you I cannot rate or stop her, and she’s super-green, so I’m not about to point her at a fence in that situation. So I just trotted her up the home stretch and did the jumps in a quiet canter. I was highly amused to note that the other two girls followed my lead on that. The clinician however was less amused. Ah well.

Next we got a mini-course. Over little logs, down bank, over ugly-looking but not overly large fence. Ummm ok, except for the whole bank part. Any objection to walking down? Puzzled look. Umm we’ve done two of these, ever. Oh ok then, go up and then down it. So we go up, yeah superstar pony. Amused to note that yet again the other two are following me (why do I always have to be the one to speak up?). Going down though, superpony was less than sure. As in not *quite* rear and spin but almost there. So I trot her around a bit and when she’s good hop off and lead her down the bank. Brilliant. Clinician was *not* happy w/ me for that. But when I got back on she did it perfectly so all good.

So we do our mini-course. No problem. Mr crop was employed for the ugly jump – which gave us an extra foot or two and quite the landing, but she went over it when she wasn’t sure so that was good. This was a case of something I wanted to redo that didn’t get to. (Eventually did do it again, but long past the useful timing).

N then we went to the ditch. N this was less than good. Suffice to say, when I felt the meltdown coming I should've just lead her over it, remounted and all would've been well. But I tried to do it the clinician's way. And when we couldn't even get close to it anymore she gave up. So I tried leading her at that point but it was way too late. So now Superpony has a ditch issue. Frig. Guess what we'll be spending the summer doing? Rode her over a few fences we'd already done to finish with (including the ugly :)

So the first half of the clinic was not particularly interesting or challenging but my horse was awesome so I was pretty thrilled at that. Amazingly well behaved. The second half taught my horse that ditches house monsters AND that she has an option about whether to jump. NOT good. So while I am actually very happy with how my horse went, I have to admit to being thoroughly disappointed overall *sigh*

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