Sunday was warm and sunny, so I headed out to the barn with the sole intent of setting up some cross-country jumps and schooling Moe over them. We had a very pleasant dressage school on Friday, but I was itching to do something other than endless transitions. One of these days I’ll get some landscape timbers and set up a gymnastic, but until then, it’s cross-country all the way.
The sagging split rail fence has been serving us as a straight-forward vertical for the last few weeks. I asked barn manager not to change the rail out because it’s such a good height (around 2’6″-9″; I haven’t measured it). It has excellent footing on both sides and rides really well.
I assembled this jump out of sticks and logs I found laying around the pasture. The beavers really helped me out on this one- the large logs were gnawed down by the beavers a while ago, and were dried out (like driftwood) and easy to move. You can’t see it in the picture, but the right side is propped up on a plastic lawn chair and the left side is propped up on a tree. It’s not a big jump- maybe around 2′-2’3″ in the center. It can be approached from either side and isn’t too far away from the split rail fence. It’s also close to the pond, so I can incorporate a canter through the water approaching or leaving this jump.
That’s a picnic table. (The barn manager is very relaxed about where I move the lawn furniture.) The benches are attached to this table, which makes it awkward to move and limits how you can set it up. I like the way it rides though: the benches produce a nice round jump and lots of effort. It’s another fence that can be approached from either direction, too.
Moe was uncharacteristically sluggish while jumping. He wasn’t stiff or lame or cranky- he was just slow. I chalked it up to the heat; it was 78 degrees outside on Sunday and he still has a lot of winter fur. We took a lot of walk breaks and only ran through all three jumps once.
I took advantage of Moe’s slowness and really concentrated on keeping my leg on, my eyes up, and doing nothing with my hands. I have a bad habit of frantically half-halting Moe about five strides away from a fence, which usually has the opposite of the desired effect. So I just sat still and let Moe pick his distances and followed as quietly as I could. It worked out pretty well- we had good distances 90% of the time, didn’t pick up an inordinate amount of speed, and my hands didn’t end up next to his ears when I released.
We had some fussiness about going over the picnic table. It’s set up about 300′ away from the barn; Moe kept ducking out toward the barn at the very last second. After the third run out, I got very firm with him, sat up more, put my left leg on hard, and willed him over the fence. He went over it just fine, but I had him do it again for good measure before we continued off to the pond, the log pile, and the split rail.
It poured yesterday and today I’m stuck at home with the flooring guy. (The water damage saga continues.) Severe thunderstorms are predicted for Wednesday and Thursday. Hooray for spring!