XC training with Jonna

Sunday afternoon was XC time, and it was Henry's first proper time out where he would be in a group and I had expectations of him. He's been before in a group where I didn't expect to jump anything, we just went for exposure. This time though I wanted to participate.

As per usual Henry unloaded from the float and was very relaxed, I should really stop commenting but it still feels like a big deal. The rest of the group arrived and we tacked up and hopped on. Henry was relaxed walking out to the XC but then seeing anther horse out there and then our group starting to warm up he got tense.
What the heck is going on here?!
Our group was 4 horses, 3 dark bay OTTBs, and one grey arab warmblood. The baby OTTBs had all done limited XC training before, and Henry was the youngest. One horse had a total meltdown and the rider led it around a bit while it settled. Henry had no idea what was happening and found it all a bit much to cope with. I worked hard to get him to trot and to lengthen his neck and stride and he threw in a few pigroots for good measure.

We started out trotting up a little bank, and he tried hard and jumped up without much fuss, and eventually started to settle. The more settled horses jumped some other jumps, but we stuck to the bank keeping things nice and easy. By the time we were ready to move on Hen was his usual happy self.

Getting a lead through the water
We moved onto the water and Jonna explained how we were each going to tackle the water. We went one at a time, and Henry said no, as I expected. We got a lead from another horse and he went right in after that, and from then on was a star, happily trotting in and out. We changed the context and entered at another point without following another horse and he was foot perfect. We jumped a log before the water too and in no time at all he was settled and working happily. He was happy to work in the group, on his own and to stand all by himself when the rest of the group went to do something.

Our last stop on course was a ditch. Henry has trained over ditches before and has been super so I didn't expect any problems, but this was a fairly big ditch with a slope going down to it. We trotted the approach and he saw it, looked down and slammed on the breaks, sending my flying over his head and straight into the ditch! I jumped right back up and with no damage done hopped on to try again. We worked around the ditch a bit and the represented. Henry was really unsure but with a bit of convincing he jumped over and we did it a few more times without hesitation.
All by himself!

We finished our session there and while it didn't seem like we had done much, we made a lot of progress. Henry went out in a group XC. He was nervous but we worked through it and when he settled and was then his normal self. He tackled water, jumped different jumps in a new environment and conquered a ditch. The training that we did was correct, he wont have any holes and next time we will get  to do more. I also wasn't nervous and really enjoyed myself. In fact I think I feel even more confident because I fell, and I know next time will be even better.
Pretty sure I'm superman. 
As we walked back to the floats all three bay horses were calm and quiet... the grey arab mare was prancing about. Funny how naughty OTTB's can be...

Following Uncle Jonna!
Training young horses can be a very slow process. I see other with horses a similar age to Henry out competing, or appearing to be further along in their training. Henry is a horse who really needs to understand the expectations before he make an attempt. He needs to stop and work it out, then once he get's it, it seems to be there always. He isn't the easiest horse but slowly and surly we are progressing, and he is becoming more confident. Once day he is going to be seriously nice, with scope to burn and I am careful not to compare myself to others. I am grateful to have both of my boys in my life, and I think that very soon Henry and I will be able to go out and do the eventing thing.


  1. sorry about the fall but it definitely sounds like an overall good productive experience!

    1. Very productive, unfortunately falls seem to be part and parcel with teaching athletic young Henry to event!


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