This week has been a super intense training week for Johnny: lots of dressage, gymnastics, and more dressage. So, today, we went exploring. I’ve heard rumors of cross country jumps built long ago on trails that cris-crossed through the woods behind the stables, but I was warned that most of them had returned back to nature, so I hadn’t really tried to find them.
I started off following the water treatment plant fence line but ran out of trail after about 10 minutes. I was afraid our ride was going to be rather short, but as I turned around, I saw a trail off to the side, and BONUS: a downed tree that had definite approach and landing space on either side. It was
ginormous a bit big, but I thought if I could stay towards the left side, it would be about a 3’6″ jump–totally do-able. I thought about jumping it, but then decided I’d take another look at it on our way back to make sure I wasn’t over estimating our abilities. Along the trail, I found several awesome XC jumps in the novice/training level range that just needed brush and tree clearing for them to be jump-able. I felt like I’d won the lottery! I came across a barrel jump with an overgrown bush in the way, but I walked Johnny up to the barrels anyway to check the footing on the other side. Silly pony assumed that since I hadn’t told him to stop, he should keep going, so he picked up his feet and walked right on over the barrel jump. Guess we won’t have a problem with that one.
So today was a bonus day. I’ve got a lot of work ahead to clear off gallop lanes and approach/landing space around the jumps, but now I have a XC course at my disposal for days in between schooling off post. And, to top off that glorious ride, when I came back by the downed tree, I decided to go for it. And here’s where our ride got fun… I walked past the tree again. It was easily over 5′ at the center of the approach, so I’d definitely have to hold him to the left. Once last gut check, and I pointed him toward the tree. Almost immediately, I felt him lock his sights onto the tree, and it was like he spoke to me, “Oh, I got this!” And the adrenaline rush kicked in as we galloped closer. Rather than hold him left, I went for the gold, and he made the most amazing jump in stride, and we flew through the air over that giant tree. Apparently, Johnny got a little adrenaline rush, too, because he hit the ground running; looking for anything else to jump. It took me a good 100 yards to bring him back down! He had that spring in his step that he gets after a good confidence boost, and I was glad we went for it. The transformation that horse has made since I first got him is amazing. He’s finally trusting me, listening to me, and performing like I knew he could. I can’t wait to see how far he can go!