Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shawan Downs XC School

That little bit of rain that we had Monday made the going absolutely perfect for today's cross country school at Shawan Downs, venue for the MCTA Horse Trials. The HT took place over the weekend, and today for $50 a horse you could come back and practice the courses as they were set for the weekend's competition. Morris and I took advantage of this, and had such a great time. Perfect weather, 80 or so with a slight breeze, great turf (no time wasted taking in or out studs, oh hooray!). Actually there were gnats like crazy, annoyingly persisten ones, so he wore ears for the first time and I declare those a giant success, be on the look out for them at our next competition (if nothing else, I think Morris looked grand wearing them and he deserves to look that part!). I think Richard and Gunsmoke were ready to steal them right off of Morris' head and wear them themselves...the two "boys" were my groundspeople and rode the minibike as fast as it would go sometimes to get away from the swarm over their heads!
I started Morris' session basically recreating my lesson with Jimmy at Gordonsdale last week. Morris basically picked up right where we left off, and so I headed right for the tricky stuff: water ditches and banks. There are two water jumps at MCTA, I schooled at least 3 ditches and 2 trakehners (ditches with logs on top), the preliminary "coffin", and cruised up and down a bank question where Morris couldn't see where he was landing until he was already committed to a take-off spot. Here is the video to watch us in action, he was brilliant! A big thanks to Richard and his i-phone which takes incredible video. You can see how Morris ,makes all the appropriate decisions at the water jump, including a clean but conservative jump over the hanging log in the middle.

And here he is zipping up and down the exercise with the drop/surprise landings:

I am so lucky to get to start my day like this! Very motivational for the rest of the horses and Freddie was no exception. He is still recovering from his trip (and still really furry) and so he lasts for about 15 minutes per ride. I set up a course of poles and flower boxes and he was so perfect! Stayed round, never touched a thing but never leapt over them like an idiot, either. Made all of his turns and tried very hard to stay straight over all of his obstacles, did start to wiggle and swerve in his last canter but that was because his legs were turning into jelly. Very excited for when he gets a little stronger and we can go play over some real stuff (not to undermine what he did today, to Freddie it was quite an adventure). Will be sure to post the video of that, don't worry. Could be entertaining ahem I mean educational. Stay tuned!

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