Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 4: Cross Country

Karen began the day asking riders to show off their galloping positions…and then she asked them to change gaits, do shoulder in, haunches in, etc. while still in galloping position. “you should be able to do anything in this position!” Riders had to lower their heads below their butts without moving their legs. “Feel those quads burn!”

Riders needed to make sure they kept plenty of spring in their elbows. Common problems were posting at the canter, not having elastic elbows, not keeping the butt up in the air, hands too high, hands not close enough. One rider was told her stirrups were too small—there should be ample space on both sides of the boot.

Karen and David call the place on the withers where the hands go “home plate”.

To go faster, don’t lean forward; use your arms.

Don’t just survive XC. Be balanced. Teach the horse to trust you.

In my session, Karen told me “open your sail! It’s big enough!” OUCH. But I DO need to remember that my upper body weight affects my horse. Just like William Fox Pitt had to learn to balance his height, I need to learn to balance my weight.

I’m still having trouble with the whole preparation period. I don’t do it enough, or I do it too much. I think I’ve learned to ride to the fence, and I ASK for the short or long spot RIGHT BEFORE the fence. Karen wants me to fix the chip in the turn—that is, get a great rhythm, then ride the rhythm. I THINK that’s what Jimmy Wofford is talking about…but I guess I don’t have the right rhythm. Again, I seem to be too strong or too soft. After what happened at Road Runner, I’d rather be too strong! But that’s not the answer. It’s about balance, and I think I feel it from time to time (like I feel things transiently in dressage). I just need to learn to extend these feelings and control them.

We worked on banks, and I need to make sure that I’m a lot more aware of what I’m asking my horse to do. I worry too much about the balance, and I forget direction. ARRGGGHHH! When I lighten up and let go, it goes sooooo much better.

We moved on to ditches, and we did both the smaller and larger ditches…no problem.

We went through the small water, over a ditch to a rail, and it was good, too—I need to remember to get off his back for BOTH take off and landing on banks.

We got to do an advanced set of steps, both up and down. Even though we were trotting down, I had to remember to engage him on the second step. We needed more “umph” going up, but we got it.

We got to cross into the other field to do the half coffin, and Heidi suggested we jump over the weldon’s wall to get there. Gulp.

But we did it just fine. Perhaps too much speed the first time, but the second time I had him up and it was great. I blurted out that I was terrified of those because we’d flipped over one, and Karen barked “then do it again!” We did it really well, and I think we “own” at least THAT weldon’s wall now. I wish Karen were coming to Greenwood…!

We ended up by doing the Training water, but then by adding a bounce between the barrels and the log. Then one rider asked to learn to use the bank to go out of/in to water…so we did. Once again, I was worried about balance rather than direction, but once we got that figured out, it went well.

I had a harder time this clinic, but I think it was because more was expected of me. I need to expect more at home, and bring it with me to competitions.

Thanks to Tracy and Bobby Hewlett for bringing Karen and David in. And thanks to all of the wonderful folks I met—eventers really are the best folks in the world! Thanks especially to Karen for kicking my butt and making me rise to the occasion (even though I couldn’t do it w/out “drama”. I’m working on that). Here’s to expecting more, being safer, and having fun with the best horse in the world!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Here's a big thanks to all those who've helped us be safe, free, and able to pursue our happiness. Thanks, dad.

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