Sunday was our first time out cross-country schooling since before my hip surgery (way back in April 2013), and it was our first jumping since before Johnny’s tie-back surgery in early November. Since he’s still technically in the ‘take it easy’ portion of his riding recovery, we haven’t started any conditioning sets either. So my plan was to take it nice and easy–give him a decent warm-up, and school only a few BN level fences to get him back in the swing of things.
Johnny, however, had other plans. He wanted to jump everything! The ‘baby’ jumps, in his mind, weren’t worth much of an effort. I’ve replayed in slow motion several of our jumping efforts, and he’s barely bringing his knees up to clear them. However, more than once I had to steer him away from something more challenging–we jumped into the water, and he immediately locked onto the next closest fence-a large rolltop submerged in at least 18″ of water! You’ll see it in the video below–I had to steer him away! It’s hard not to overdo it when you have a horse who’s so eager to go; I found myself wanting to jump everything as well, but I knew as eager as he was then, he’d pay for it later.
I also used this opportunity to test ‘The Pacifier’ for its level of control. The first thing I noticed was that I had more of a half-halt ability coming downhill. Instead of throwing his head in the air and rushing faster, Johnny actually listened and responded by stepping further under himself and rebalancing. Score one. I didn’t have a ton of bite for ’emergency’ stopping, but then again, I don’t really need it with him. The one negative was that it rubbed the corners of his mouth ever so slightly. Granted, we were out there a really long time, but I’ve never seen bit rubs on the corners of his mouth before.
And one final note: Johnny did all this barefoot! My super tenderfoot OTTB bravely tackled a full day of riding around without any shoes. We’ll give it another day to see if any abscesses pop up from bruising, but the only time he seemed to take notice of his bare feet was a brief walk over some fallen gumballs and a bit of gravel. I’m still trying to decide whether to put front shoes on him; he’s definitely tender in the sand arena (why?) still after nearly 12 weeks. I think I’ll give it one more round of growth/trimming before I decide.
Anyway, as promised, he’s the composite video from our schooling Sunday. The “Misfits” of Savannah Area Eventers & Friends came out in force: we had a group of 10 who made the trip!