So... about that x-country ride... IT WENT SOOOOOO WELL!!! I am so happy and proud and hopeful for the future. I feel like giving her a report card, so here goes:
Trailer Ride: It has been several months (I'm pretty sure March was the last time) since Bijou's been in a trailer. We walked up to the door after Wyatt had claimed his spot, took a sniff, backed one step, got reprimanded, and jumped right in. She stood quietly the whole ride up, even when us sleepy girls went to grab some coffee :D. All in all I say that deserves a A-
Tacking up: We got out of the trailer, she backed out like a champ, and took one tiny look around before I 'tied' to the trailer. This basically means that I loop the lead rope once through the tie on the trailer and tell her "whoa" in a stern voice. She stood. stock. still. even while girthing! We got all spiffed up, with my lilac bell boots, white splints all around, lilac reins, lilac pad and I wore black... oops oh well. No nervous energy at the trailer, just game for whatever was coming her way. A+
5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Have a great ride!: we went out and warmed up in the dressage rings, which was good because Bijou has never seen a judge stand before. She definitely looked at it, but overall wasn't too concerned. We did some circles, etc and then went out in the big open warm up area and I just let her pick up a canter to see how fresh she'd get. She came right back to me after a good hand gallop with only a change in my position. At this point I'm getting a very good feeling about the day :D. So we head out to the course. I love Twin Rivers because they have the big big big stuff, and they also have baby x-rails sized stuff too. So we start off by being Wyatt's decoy. He does this thing where he really doesn't want to go straight out of the box if there's another horse behind him, so S worked on that a lot and I got to teach the Jou Jou about how to stay behind. This was something she used to have a lot of trouble with, but she's mostly gotten over it it seems. A for effort
The Course: I pointed her at the first jump once it was our turn to use the start box, and she didn't even hesitate, just popped right over it. I love how close she gets to the fences, my other mare always took a GIANT leap over everything, so taking the little ones at a close spot again is so nice! We cantered happily away to the next little 18" log and hopped right over that one too. We messed around like this for a bit, until we got to the first water complex. It was really full this time since it had been raining. She didn't like the look of it at first, but with three or four good kicks she finally leapt in. We went sloshing back and forth through it a few times until it only took one good kick to get her in and called that one a success. Next we went over to the banks. S and Wyatt took off up the set of novice obstacles to encourage Jou to follow up, and we took the Beginner Novice bank up along them. She stopped right at the bank, I had a supporting leg, and between her momentum and my leg we jumbled up the thing. Now was the hard part, the down bank, so much fun on a horse that loves it, but very hard on one that doesn't. Again we had Wyatt lead us down a few strides ahead, but Bijou knew just what to do and took a playful leap off the bank with very very little hesitation! Superstar pony! She did the happy headtoss to show how proud of herself she was and we went to do the last big question that I'll probably ever answer on an x-country course, the ditch. S and Wyatt schooled it first, then I walked Bijou up to it. She had her usual reluctance to get close to something that I wanted her to get close to, but got a good look at it without going over. I thought we needed lots more momentum, so I circled around at a trot. She stopped right at the base, I kicked and meant it, and she reared, and somehow got her hind legs across the ditch. At least that's what it felt like. I had grabbed mane, and I was glad, and I cantered away petting her. We did that one a few more times, and then put it together with a few other little baby jumps and called it good. Lastly, S wanted to go do her whole course, just to make sure she was up to it, so I told her I would just canter along behind her and pick off fences here and there. This was the only part that Jou had a problem with. Once Wyatt went out of sight, we had a little neighing melt down. She still got to work, but she seriously refused the ditch when I tried to take it again. I let it go and rode around a bit waiting for them to get back, and then re-schooled the ditch and called it a day. Overall A for answering all the tough questions on her first day out.
I wish I would have taken the day off of work and learned the dressage test because I could have totally kicked butt at the One Day Horse Trials they had the next weekend, but that's what I get for not planning. Next year we will be SO ready! Phew!
In more recent news, the arena's been closed a lot due to rain, Bijou is losing weight :(, I had a lesson with a CCI** rider who boards where I do which went well, aaaaand I've been busy. I bought a pair of clippers, so I'm stoked to clip some horses this winter, and now it's time for bed :D