Sunday we went cross country training, for the first time in ages and the last time this year! We had a varied group ranging from the very green up to 95. Henry was one of the more experienced horses which is becoming the new normal.
It was a cool, wet day and Henry was fresh! He was very excited to be out and about in a group especially on a cross country course. There were some brief theatrics while we warmed up but once he was jumping things he settled down and got on with it.
Because our group was so varied we started out just trotting over some teeny logs, which helped settle Henry until some horses in a paddock near the course found it all too exciting which made Henry also think it was very exciting. He settled quickly after that and we got to doing some more interesting jumps.
There was no water in the water jump, which was a shame but it gave us a chance to practice banks and drops. Henry finds them pretty boring really, but we had fun walking up and down a little bank, then down a bigger bank before trotting down a log drop thing. Henry was like cool, whatever and did it all like the pro he is so we strung together a course.
The first time through he declined to sit up when I asked him to and we were a little fast and messy jumping down the log drop. The second time he half halted just from me sitting up and putting my shoulders back, so he obviously learnt to listen when I say woah!
We moved onto the next part of the course where we jumped a chevron a couple of time round to a nice big 95 log. This was where I started riding a bit like a nana, and needed to put my leg on and allow Henry to flow to the jumps a bit more. The first time through was fine, but the second time I killed the power and picked before the jump so we got far too deep. I went through again and left Hen alone and he was far happier about that. Point taken, ride less like a nana and let the horse do his job.
The other jump to be tackled in this second was a set of angled rails. We talked through how to ride them, then came through over the log we had done and then jumping the A element on its own before coming around and going through the A and B together. The first time round went really well and I knew I could hit the B element no worries. When we came to actually do it though we were just a tad fast and Hen was not expecting such a fast tight turn and so we didn't make it. The next time we got it done and then we went through once more to solidify it. It was far from perfect but I was proud of how Henry learnt each time and got it better. The last time through he saved us from a very deep spot and I was grateful for all the work we have done with Jonna jumping from very deep, slow spots.
From there we headed to the Trakhener which I again was a bit of a nana about, until I got it through my head to ride more forward. I find it hard to keep the forward pace with so much stopping and starting, and I do have a tendency to go too slow and pick. It's not a good combo! Henry thankfully is a good spot and gets in with it!
To finish we practiced over the ditched, then through the coffin which I was pleased to not ride slowly through and it all went very smoothly for us! What a relief.
It was a fun session to finish the year off with, and I was pleased we stepped up and tackled so trickier lines and bigger jumps. It made me realise though I need to practice riding forward and jumping from that more open canter, so I need to go XC a little more frequently. Henry was full of confidence though, and quite happy to be out and about!