Silver and Gillian, Sidney and Linda, and I with Ferriana all headed up to Archer for some cross country schooling. We got lucky and there was still some water in the water jump leftover from two weekends ago when they had the rated horse trial there.
Sidney was assigned relaxation and trail riding behavior, which she did pretty well! We didn't put her cross country gear on, just her saddle and bridle like it was a trail ride, and it seemed to help her realize she could treat it like a trail ride. My plan for the next couple weeks while she's living here in training is to do a lot in the back forty on a very loose rein and see how much let down we can accomplish.
I was super proud of Gillian and Silver. Silver was pretty laid back about the whole thing - he's gotten the idea that we do the same kinds of things every time and he's been to Archer several times so it's all very familiar to him now.
One of the big wins today for Gillian and Silver was galloping in the field. This has been on Gillian's goal list for some time, and today they really were able to open up a bit between two of the jumps. It's so much fun to ride a racehorse!
Ferriana did well today, too. I started by hopping her over a bunch of the elementary level fences to build her confidence. She certainly is a careful horse, she looked hard, then over jumped most of them until she realized how small they actually were. All normal green horse moments. I need to do a better job remembering that she's still green, and that she's only been under saddle for about a year. She sure has been fun to bring along, though!
Once Ferriana had the idea, we started going over some larger jumps.
In this photo you can see the size of the jump compared to Sidney, and
in the next one you can see Ferriana clearing it with plenty of room to
This was her first cross country school with jumping down into water, and she was so nonchalant about it!
This hanging long is a training level jump when done in combination with the green roofed cabin set up after it, but the combination was too much for Ferriana. She is so athletic and had been riding so well that I got greedy and forgot that she is still a green horse. I paid the price with an unscheduled dismount. To be fair, I don't know how anyone could have stayed on with the swerving she did prior to the refusal.
All's well that ends well, though, and no harm was done. I had both my impact vest and my air vest on as well as my helmet, as I do every time I go cross country. This was my first fall where I hit the ground and the air vest deployed, and this is totally how every fall should go. As I came off there was a pop and the vest inflated before I got close to the ground, and I landed bouncing like I was cocooned in an air mattress. This is definitely the best way to fall!
Poor Ferriana was confused, this was her very first time losing a rider. She was pretty sure that the scary jump had snatched me from right off her back. She hurried over to Silver and Sidney in search of comfort since her security blanket (me) was gone. Gillian caught her and gave her back to me once I caught up. Ferriana didn't even want to walk near the jump once I had remounted (having borrowed Linda's undeployed air vest). We spent some time walking around the jump from both directions until she wasn't so concerned, then moved on to the green roofed cabin.
We schooled over the cabin, which must have looked huge to her after her ordeal with the hanging log. Based on the size of her first leap she may have mistaken it for a puissance wall... These photos are from her second, much more conservative attempt.
Lastly we all headed up the hill to the beginning of the course where the start box is located. We happened to be there schooling on a day when there was a very impressive motocross competition going on. This was our view as we walked up the hill:
In true eventer style we just continued on regardless of background commotion, and Ferriana hopped over a few more of the small fences to rebuild her confidence after the green roofed cabin.
I'm really pleased with the day, and I'm doing my best to forgive myself for overfacing Ferriana like that. I knew better, but everyone makes mistakes and I'm fortunate to have good safety equipment that works properly and kept me safe. Silver was incredible, Sidney is really starting to relax, and my riders are making great progress. I can feel it - good things are coming for all three horses!