Here there be dragons...

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GRS Goes to Gorstella

So on Saturday we took Nea and Rye over to Gorstella.

Nea has never done XC, and Rye hasn't been off the property in at least 2 years. We know he's had good training somewhere along the way, but don't know much about him beyond that. So the day could go either way.

Perfect weather. This makes for a good start. The "good luck teddy bear" got a pat before leaving the Beast, and we were good to go!

Both horses grew a little when they got off the trailer. But then Rye was like "oh, grass" -- n that was the end of that. Completely chilled. Nea took her cue from Rye and grazed while the girls tacked up. Then we headed down to the sandring to start. Complete w/ turned-out horses leaning over the fence. Both horses were alert, but neither put a step wrong. Walked/trotted/cantered around like old pros. So we jumped a little X a few times; Rye had it down on the first time, while Nea wasn't *quite* sure about it but figured it out as we went along, and then headed out on XC. I took them over to the plateau first, both cause it's flat and unintimidating AND cause it's a long walk and I figured it'd give me a sense of what we were in for. Both horses hacked over w/o a second look at anything -- even the loose horse we had to pass. ummm ok trot around the plateau a bit. Complete non issue. Ok, let's try walking over the log -- Rye first as he's got more experience. Doesn't even look at it. Way more interested in the grass surrounding it! So had him give Nea a lead over it and . . . Beautiful. Trot over it -- complete non issue. Then Rye got to graze for a while while Nea got some more practice.... (hmmmm this training methodology may lead to the only horse EVER to get *fatter* after a season of XC!!!). Then time go to down to the valley. Rye stops at the top and just looks at me. I swear he rolled his eyes. N Paula voiced his concern but in her typical positive manner: "ummm Laur? Do people actually canter and gallop on this hill?" Yup. "Ok then Rye, no excuse for you not to *walk* down it." hahaha and he did. And got to graze at the bottom. So the world was good :) Nea wasn't too sure at first, but when Rye disappeared down the hill she figured better to be with him than not and joined in :)

Then came the river. Well Rye was having *nothing* to do w/ that. "Uh uh. That's WET. Hello??? AND there's nothing for me to eat there. Stupid humans. There's lots of grass HERE. On this side of the river. I see no reason to cross." N Nea is definitely not the leader of the pack so I had to convince Rye to go first. They got one shot a the the standard cluck, leg, tap w/ stick. But I *really* wanted it to be a positive experience for all involved so didn't want to deteriorate it to a battle. Soooooo.... Take off shoes and socks, roll up jeans (I was amazed at how high my jeans actually roll up :), and led him through the river (have to admit was *very* afraid for my toes in this process!). 2 steps in and it's "I got it. There's more grass over there -- I'll meet you there." And marched through. No issue, no hesitation, nothing. Just took a lead for that first step. Had to lead Nea in too, but she was a little more willing having seen how bravely Rye went... And after that first step she was all about getting through it *fast* (before the sharks get her!)

On the other side of the river there were some slightly bigger logs to go over. Rye trotted over one once, and then led Nea the second time, n then got to chill and eat (n it was really funny, by this time he had it down "I go over a fence, I lead the mare over the fence, I stop and graze." hahaha had to be careful not to let him get tooooo sure of that or one day he'll do so when she's not ready! So after that she made more of a point of being the one to choose when/where grazing was appropriate). We let Nea jump this one for a while and then moved on. They also did one on a bit of a downhill. He was a pro star. Went and jumped the always scary tires (it's important to take a flying *leap* at anything scary looking :). Then.... 2 in a row!!!! Jumped a log, cantered up the little hill and jumped the tires. Well I think he went all of two strides after the fence. "Comeon lady. I jumped the fence. It's time for grass. Cantering in between and jumping two in a row was definitely NOT in the contract. Sheesh. What were you thinking? I have a pillsbury teddy-bear image to maintain you know. I can't do that if you insist on me running and jumping. Grass. Grass is the ideal solution to this issue." hahaha

Now while Rye was playing w/ his combo, Nea was negotiating another log -- but this one was *scary*. And taking a note from her paddock buddy Sienna, she felt the need to clear it by an extra 3' or so. hahaha poor Steph got a *little* launched. But Nea proved to be very intelligent about this whole game. The 2nd try was significantly better and the 3rd was just about perfect! Woohoo. These games were followed w/ a few more random logs -- some w/ some width to them. By this point Nea was jumping really confidently and happily. "I got it! Where's the next one?" Was amazing to watch :) One of the best things about babies is watching them learn :)

Next was the trip back across the river. Rye hesitated but amazingly enough Nea didn't -- and he wasn't about to be shown up by his follower! So the ferocious teddy bear marched bravely across and back into the lead!

So we finished up w/ going up and down a *tiny* drop -- which neither of them would even acknowledge there was anything there :) N that was about it. They were *such* superstars!!!


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