Cross country schooling at Feather Creek Farm
Last Saturday, Moe and I went cross country schooling at Feather Creek Farm with a group from the barn. My original plan was to take Candy, work her unmounted on a longe line over small cross country obstacles, and do some mounted work if she seemed to be handling it okay. But after having so much fun riding Moe on Thursday, I decided to take him instead. Moe is extremely fat, very out of shape, and is getting ready to celebrate his 23rd birthday, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt him to jump a few small things.
Moe seemed surprised about being selected to get on Space Trailer, but he jumped right in and unloaded two hours later with a perky look on his face. After tacking up, we headed out to the cross country course with our five barnmates. Feather Creek hosts Oklahoma’s only recognized event; I’ve never attended, but I have been to a couple of schooling shows here. While my schooling show experiences haven’t been overwhelming positive, this cross country schooling day was great. The course was in good shape, the jumps were flagged, and the turf was mowed.
I let Moe walk while everyone got warmed up. We did a little trotting and cantering, but I kept it brief because Moe felt like he’d sipped rocket fuel along with his senior feed! We spent most of the day walking from jump to jump and giving advice and pointers where appropriate. I jumped Moe over a few small fences- he zipped right over all of them without hesitation. We even demonstrated how to jump up and down banks and gave a brave kid and a super pony a lead off a Beginner Novice bank. (The kid told me, “It felt like jumping off a cliff!”)
After schooling, we settled the horses in stalls and headed in to the Oklahoma Combined Training Association’s annual meeting. I was pleasantly surprised to win sixth place in the Senior Novice division, and my neighbor and her feisty pony won first place in the Senior Introductory division!
I was really happy with how good Moe felt. I’ve been concerned about his comfort level and his longevity as a working horse since his EPM diagnosis last fall. Maybe these concerns were unfounded; after all, the disease was caught very early, he completed 60 days of treatment, (30 days of a combination of decoquinate and levamisole and 30 days of ReBalance) and he’s never once been anything but cheerful. He’s been moving just fine on the flat post-treatment and hasn’t shown any signs of the disease returning. Part of me was always worried he was uncomfortable or unsound or unable to do anything but sit in the pasture. Pasture pet isn’t a life I think he would enjoy much- he’s very much a people horse, and he always seems excited to be petted and fussed over and taken for a ride.
Taking him out on cross country put many of my fears to rest. Moe feels like his normal, exuberant self. I feel confident that he and I can enjoy a show season doing First Level dressage and Beginner Novice or Novice level eventing. I know that one day, my sweet and excitable gelding will succumb to the reality of old age, but I’m happy that day seems to be far in the future.