Monday, June 29, 2015

Cross Country Schooling at RDLA

I had an extensive write-up planned, but it's been over a week and summer camps are actually killing me. (Not actually - that's called hyperboly). As a result of the endless sun frying my brain, this post is mostly photo spam. I was going to write about my coaching approach when schooling cross country, and instead you get photos of horses jumping little fences.

RDLA is a great, super cute little facility. For $35 we got to play around in a dressage court, examine a stadium course with lovely footing (that we opted to skip then for our horses' stamina) and play around on a fantastic cross country course. Nothing big - I think it maxed out at probably novice. TONS of related distances though which I think drastically ups the challenge in some ways. A talented horse can bail you out of some situations when you ride poorly on an open approach to a jump, but fewer talented horses can rescue you when the distances are all related.

I lost my horse/rider pairs when they went exploring and then these deer came out

One angle of the big field

From the other end of the big field
I had E take a few photos to give you all a sense of the big field we were in - there's lots of jumps scattered about and many that are hard to photograph here. 

 I rode Kat to warm her up and took her over a lot of obstacles before letting Working Student From Michigan play with her. I'm seriously proud of Kat - for being such a one-woman pony she's opening up and trusting the riders I put on her. They're not always having fun with her yet... but they're able to ride her. (Spoiler: WSFM had fun with her)

(I'm not touching this)

 Everything had nice approaches to it for the most part, my biggest challenge was that it was sometimes difficult to ride just one fence all by itself without getting put on a really nice track to another jump.

(I'm not touching this either)
Diva and her owner came out for their first cross country experience and they killed it. It was one of those rides where I really just kept thinking that they're gelling so perfectly.

As far as my coaching went - I talked a lot about good approaches and developing an appropriate pace for what we're jumping. I really didn't want to get in their faces and make them think too much about it for their first time out though, so we approached it like we're jumping in a field. (Because we are, I suppose.) There are a lot of questions we have to learn to answer cross country, but not all on our first outing, I think.

Introducing the hover-oldenburg
 The only time I really came down on anyone was when Diva's rider pointed her at this little baby trakehner they have out there. She kept aimlessly drifting off and avoiding it and I wanted her rider to get serious and hold her straight with his legs and his focus. Like we're talking ride as if it's either over this fence or off an effing cliff. And he got it! It took some reminders about how the aids work as a collective whole, but they totally nailed it. The neatest thing about Diva is that she is fearless.

I feel like I make Kat look tiny sometimes and then I make sadfaces, but then I just pretend I'm channeling my inner william Fox-Pitt
Maybe a little too fearless.

A funny thing about Diva when you're riding her is how bloody LONG she is - but in combination with how handy she is. 

You can totally whip her around on a dime if you're using your aids properly, but if you're not simultaneously putting her together it results in a really strung-out experience. 

 But her rider rides really well - he's learning not only how she responds when you apply aids but also when things don't really go according to plan.

And I guess as a coach that's a super exciting moment - when we start riding really proactively and not so reactively.

I totally forgot where I was going.

I think I just wanted to do a little write-up on how neat this facility is for low-level cross country schooling. Bummer that there isn't any water most of the time - they have a tiny water complex but only fill it up for events/10+ person schooling days.


  1. Again I really love your write-ups! Kat is simply flying.

    1. She loves it out there which is lucky for me!

  2. that facility looks awesome! and Kat is hilarious flying over those fences - clearly scope is not a problem haha.

    1. I have to agree, I don't think scope is our problem. It's nice that this place to school is only about an hour away!