Today we went into Fort Collins to Sunrise Equestrian for their pair pace, and Dewey and I enjoyed dressing up in our costume! My helmet cover is one I got at a snowboarding store in Utah in August several years ago, it fits on my riding helmet great and it's super fun to gallop in.
The folks at Sunrise opened up a couple new fields we hadn't ridden in before, and extended their cross country course to be twenty five fences at a variety of levels. I took Dewey through the course twice, the first time to let him trot through and look at everything, the second time going at a faster pace to help him get the idea that we're cantering AND jumping. I rode him as a single, since I had a very specific mission for him and I didn't want to worry about other riders. The day originally was going to be several Bit of Honey horses and riders, but the rain and cold got the best of everybody else. Sara did take some video and Kimberly Hale Photography did the pictures.
Dewey's first time through he was just figuring out what exactly we were up to today. He took a couple hard looks at some fences, but everything was a very manageable size so he could walk over them once he was done looking. It is a good example of why we take a deeper seat when jumping cross country than in show jumping - Dewey had to pause and look but I didn't go off over the top!
The second time through Dewey was really starting to "get it". It is immensely satisfying when I can feel the horse's brain click into gear, and suddenly he's a steady machine on course. Even though we were doing a very slow pace on course (herd of turtles style) I still asked Dewey to lengthen his canter in the straightaways, and then half halt and come back to me in preparation for jumps. It doesn't matter a ton at this low level, but I want Dewey to have the idea that he is allowed to go faster when we're galloping to cover distance, but that when I sit deep and exhale, he needs to shift his weight back onto his haunches and prepare to jump something, no matter how small. This helps to create the all-important "rate-able canter" you hear about so much. Basically I want to be able to easily adjust his stride length and speed with just my weight shifts and breathing.
It was such a fun day, even if a bit cold. I think Kimberly and Sara were popsicles by the time we headed home, but at least Dewey had a good run! I'm so grateful to have this facility close by to enjoy so close to home.