XC Schooling: Full Gallop Farm

There was a post on the Savannah Area Eventers and Friends facebook page a couple weeks ago or so about getting a group together to go cross country schooling at Full Gallop Farm.  Some of them volunteer regularly at the horse trials held there, so they get free schooling passes.  The last volunteering opportunity was last weekend and, since there isn't a post about it, you know I bailed on the offer.

Things worked out in my favor in that TE had available space in her trailer for the Archer and the facility boasts tadpole/starter level fences, so I wouldn't be surrounded by things I was too afraid to attempt.

Sunday dawned rainy and miserable.  The forecast was good for Aiken, though.  My dumb self only brought a t-shirt, so by the time I pulled Archie and TE's horse from the pasture, I was pretty well drenched.  We loaded all the things and coerced Archie into the trailer.  It was better and faster this time, with less argument on his end.  We stopped en route to Aiken to pick up a veritable stranger who was interested in learning more about eventing, but didn't have a horse to school.  And then we ground to a halt for several miles because of two cars parked on the side of the highway.  After the necessary bathroom breaks -- is this a theme?  peeing in random places while on horsie adventures in South Carolina? -- we made it to Aiken at about 1-1:30.

Registered, paid, tacked up and threw on all those random cross country accouterments.  So let's talk about that for a moment.

Walking back from registering.
A long, long time ago (like a month or two!)  I contacted Sarah at Eventing in Color and purchased a medical arm band from her for a whopping $5.  It arrived quickly and she left a sweet note in there.  (Thanks, again!)  I filled out the medical card with everything I knew.  Doctor's phone number? 911.  Blood type?  Red.  Megabicep held it well for the duration of my schooling.

Around the same time, I also started perusing eBay and facebook groups for a vest.  I was pretty particular.  The fad seems to be for Tipperary vests, which seems really... not so smart to me.  The generic Tipperary isn't certified.  Meaning, you have a nasty fall and there is no telling how much protection that thing is going to offer.  So, I knew I wanted something with as much certification as I could reasonably get (Airvest, anyone?), but I also wanted something pretty and sized enough to not smother the girls.  I was fortunate enough to find a demo model of a brand I'd never heard of (which isn't saying much) on eBay for a buy-it-now price of $85.  It met all my quirks and was a pretty black with reflective piping.

And I knew Archie needed boots that could get wet.  I had Roma hinds and I thought about getting a set of Roma fronts to go with, but when I saw a whole set on SmartPak of open-fronts for a whole $35 and reasonable reviews, I went that route.  They absolutely serve my purpose, fit well, and didn't feel like they locked in heat.

So, Archie is all dressed up.  I'm all dressed up.  I've popped half a Xanax so I don't have another anxiety attack.  I'm feeling pretty damn good as we follow TE's horse onto the cross country field.


Brain processing.
Brain going, "Oh shit."
And then I realize that Archie is trembling.  The jigging and the prancing and the wiggles, I'm sort of getting used to.  The trembling was brand-spanking new.

We'd planned on walking out for about fifteen minutes before asking them to really warm up.  The rest of the group, about eight other riders and two trainers, were already warmed up and taking fences.  Because Archie had shit for brains initially, we opted to go nearer to that large group in hopes that he would settle.

It took a little while, but he was calm enough to start working.  I'd forgotten what hills were like.  I'd forgotten about rolling green trees.  Tires a pony pretty quickly!

After trotting and cantering, I took Archie a little bit aways from the group.  I found that he did better if I was the one to force him to separate, something that I realized back when it was just us with the Skinny Guy at the old craptastic barn.  I asked him to pop over a coop and he gladly refused.  So then I opted to take him over a random warm up cross rail a few times, a smaller coop, and then the original larger coop.

More watching.
And then it was game on.

I jumped as much as I felt comfortable with and exposed him to as many things as I could.  We had one other refusal when he just didn't have enough oompf to get over a jump at the top of a bank.  I stayed at the tadpole/starter level, though some of the beginner novice looked very inviting.  We did logs and banks and drops and ditches.  We walked and trotted through water.  We danced and pranced and got pissy with our front end.  There was a lot of walking and watching, but I figured that he had just spent three hours in a trailer and his mind was completely blown.  He'd never been asked to go over some of these jumps, but he did it with very little hesitation.  TE also said that I rode better on Xanax, but I dropped about a hundred dollars for the experience - not including the vest, boots, and armband - so I was going to make damn sure that I sucked as much experience out of it as I could, with consideration for my recently-turned-17 horse.

Right before I dismounted.  That little fence was the last thing I jumped.
Blooper.. to get an idea of size.  That was probably the biggest thing we jumped.

I had a blast and want to go again!
You can see the outline of the open front ankle boots.
Sorry for the poop.
The trip back home was not so fun.  In the dark, on some random two lane highway outside of some tiny town with the sketchiest of gas stations (I would have been better peeing in the woods again) and no cell phone coverage, we were of the first on the scene of an accident.  Some guy rear ended another car, causing that car to careen into the woods and wrap around a tree.  Because of the horses, calmly munching hay, we were able to leave as soon as they cleared a path.
From the hood of the truck, you see the car that rear ended the other car.  The little lights off to the right are the other car.

TE and I still didn't get back to the barn until about eleven.  Then it was unwrapping, feeding, bracing, cleaning, unpacking, and turning out.  Listening as Archie led the mad dash to the water trough.

My head hit the pillow a few minutes after midnight.

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  1. Yay I love all your new adventures! Next time BN for you or at least the inviting ones and Archie will adapt, he's awesome.

    1. He knocks rails a lot and I wanted to make sure he understood that these rails didn't knock. Also, I'm a wimp.

  2. You guys are rocking it!
    Loved the details you filled in the medical armband hahaha

    1. :)

      I really should find out my blood type. That's something people know about themselves, right?

    2. Not me but agree we should prob find out ;-)

  3. You are a bad ass of grand proportions! Also is thata Charles Owen vest? They are Nice! I have an aerowear outlyne... And an airvest.

    1. It's actually a Supra-Flex. I haven't found much about them online, but I like it! The little patches make me feel safer.

  4. SO. Many. Adventures!! And I'm so jealous :)

    1. :) :) :) :)

      Maybe it's just because I live down here, but cross country schooling in Aiken seems like a big deal! I hope I get to do it again!

  5. Get it girl!! Look at you rockin it! :)

  6. Shit yeah for drug-induced bravery!! And let's face it--it's never a complete adventure until something ridiculous happens on the way there or the way back.

    1. Dude, I freaking love Xanax. Should I say that on the internet? I at least have the legit excuse of having a history of attacks, so I'm not just popping it because I'm a giant, giant wimp. I mean, I am a giant, giant wimp. So I'm almost thankful for the attacks. Maybe.

      On the way there, I peed on the side of the road. On the way back, the accident. Next time should be free, right?

  7. Replies
    1. The only downer is that I don't know how big it is! It was flagged as both starter and beginner novice, because it was adjustable. So, max 2'7", but I'm sure it was closer to 2'3".

  8. How awesoem! baby steps...sounds like so much fun, (minus the drive home)

  9. Dude this is SO AWESOME!! I squealed when I saw that spoiler pic of you and Archie by the cross country jump. Yay for new adventures!!