Here there be dragons...

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

"Every one of them had that look of a girl infatuated with horses, the happy, fated look of a passenger setting sail on the Titanic."

First outting of the year on Monday -- and for three riders their first ever xc school.

Some of you may know that Victoria Day in my world is traditionally spent at the Caledon clinic. For the first time in about a decade, I wasn't there. Not for lack of trying -- they cancelled a few days shy of the clinic. Booo. And four of the six riders who were going have never evented before and were *really* looking forward to it.

So when Pip offered up her facility as an alternative, we jumped on it :) *groan* -- sorry, couldn't resist.

The two students who actually have eventing experience opted out in favour of not getting rained on, and one of the others decided to forgo the option as well - but her spot was quickly claimed by another rider.

So the four riders - Hailey, Holly, Kennedy, and Margaret - and their horses (Dixie, Roxy, Apollo, and Nick) all headed out for the first outting of the year. All arrived on time and managed to get hay nets filled, tack packed in cars, horses groomed and loaded and we were off.

Arriving at Glenarden, the weather looked like it might get us, but for the moment was ok. Got all organized and tacked up -- an entertaining adventure for green riders who have little to no experience tacking up outdoors. Thankfully we had lots of extra hands willing to help hold horses (thanks Em and Aileen!) and super-groom Nicole to help me run around and get everybody organized in a reasonable amount of time. Even Dominic, who only signed on to trailer us, saved the day by keeping one wandering horse contained and watching over things while I went to investigate the xc course... But in a reasonable amount of time with surprisingly little chaos we had everybody tacked up and ready to go.

So we started with stadium -- a great course had been built, which N and I promptly set about lowering. Nick and Apollo walked in, took a quick look around, and instantly behaved as though they'd been there forever. Roxy wanted to investigate a little more closely and Dixie felt like bouncing around would be a good idea -- not actually shying at anything, just eager to start jumping those fences!

So jump we did. After a reasonably long quiet warmup, giving both horses and riders time to get used to the new environment, we did some work over poles, then an x, and finally some exciting fences :) Our superstar Dixie got lots of extra jumping in as she gave the greener horses leads over brush boxes and gates and other scary things and just generally showed us how it should be done :) Even Apollo, who's still so new to jumping, managed a superstar leap over the brush box with flowers. Nicole has a great photo of that I'll put up when I get it :)

Nick and Roxy weren't too sure at the beginning, but their riders did a great job of instilling confidence in them and soon enough they were jumping around the whole course (even the oxer!) like superstars.

And soon enough it was time for cross country! Woohoo :) So we went out and rode around the field for a bit, getting horses AND riders used to the great outdoors -- the rain kindly holding off. Everybody jumped the first little fence easily and willingly, but Apollo was showing signs of being both tired and overwhelmed (*very* not sure about some of the scary things on the grass!) so after a successful effort he was given the rest of the time to do his favourite thing - EAT. hahaha Nick was not quite as brave outdoors as he'd been in, but following Dixie did get over the scary coup and jumped the little logs before he too got to chill and graze. After all - we want xc to be a fun thing for them too!

Dixie and Roxy though were well past that -- already quite certain they *know* it's fun. Jumping around a series of courses both horses and riders did a great job of navigating every challenge put to them!

And in the end we had four somewhat tired and very pleased with themselves horses, and four very tired and happy riders. Got everybody untacked and loaded *just* as the rain hit. Perfect timing all around.

A fun and successful outing. Great job girls :) Now, on to Caledon!


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