Being just a wee baby horse, Stewie has never ever been on a cross country course before. In fact, Dave has only just taught him how to jump (more on that in future posts). There are a few things to try to remember when taking your horse out on their very first cross country outing and they are as follows:-
1. Keep yourself calm and walk around the entire course before you even get on your horse. If you keep calm then your horse will keep calm (hopefully)! Horses are very intuitive to emotions and to how their owners are feeling at any given time. So, if you are stressed, chances are your horse will be too.
2. As you are going into the jump it is very important to keep the right rhythm to ensure that your horse takes the appropriate amount of steps leading into the jump and that his stride is even. In other words, not taking short steps then large ones.
3. As you come into the jump, the rider needs to sit tall with hands up, legs on and look straight ahead, NOT at the jump itself. In fact the rider should actually be looking ahead to the next jump. Most new riders tend to look at the jump, but this is where you need to have faith that you have taught your horse correctly and that he will just sail right over the jump. He knows what to do so you just have to let him get on with it and look towards the next jump.
4. When the horses’ front legs leave the ground, the rider needs to go to sitting ‘two point’ until all four of the horses legs touch down on the other side of the jump. This means the rider is actually up off the horses’ back and is not putting any weight on the horse.
5. Once the horse has cleared the jump, it is very important to reward him with a big pat on the neck and verbal confirmation that he has done a good job. Make the experience enjoyable for the horse and he will want to come back and do it all again.
This is a pictorial presentation of Dave and Stewie’s first crosss country outing with their brilliant instructor Karen.
Arriving at the course and tacking up (putting on saddle cloth and saddle).
Dave then puts on the bridle. Note – Dave is wearing a jump vest to protect his torso in case of any falls (of which we hope there will be none!)
Meet Charlie, Karen’s horse.
This is how you get on up!
All aboard and off we go…
It is a beautiful day with all the pretty yellow wattle in full bloom.
First, they do a full circuit in ‘walk’ to warm the horses up and to show the horses that there is nothing scary about the logs they are going to jump.
Karen and Dotti, her gorgeously obediant dog friend.
Dave and Stewie set off…
Dave shows Stewie the first log to go over.
And over they go…
Whee…good boy Stewie! He’s a fast learner.
“Ok, now follow me” says Karen.
Karen shows Dave how. “Just watch me”.
Now you Dave.
This is how you do it Karen!
Next time you’ll be going over those jumps Stewie.
Karen gives helpful instructions.
Dotti stands guard.
Taking the horses for a cool-down walk. Karen has kindly allowed Abbey to ride Charlie. Once cooled down, the horses are untacked and put back on the float for travelling home. A good day’s work for all.
Feature image: istock
all other images: Linda ~ Pleasures of the Plate