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.|
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 going, "Oh shit."|
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.
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.
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.
|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.|
My head hit the pillow a few minutes after midnight.