XC, Kinda, Sorta, Maybe
What is lower than Tadpole? Fish Roe?
What is lower the Amoeba? Blue-Green Algae?
Whatever you call the level, we set up a course at home and schooled it. It was more of a horse question then we expected.
As a giggle, for a little variety last weekend, Husband Greg put three cavaletto at the lowest settling along a well-trodden path in the field. Voila, instant “cross-country.” We expected both horses to trot casually back and forth a few times.
Rodney & I have walked the path to the corner many times. Rodney has done it an infinity of times on his own, see photo. In the ring, Rodney knows how to handle cavelleti. However, path plus cavelletti was a whole new world. I could almost feel him thinking, Path – check. Poles in my way (he doesn’t speak Italian) – check. Poles in my way on the path – Hmmmm. I … I … I got this.
We walked the line. We trotted one of the three. We trotted the entire line, complete with an imaginary start box were I counted us down and told us to have a good ride. (Verisimilitude is important in training exercises.) By the end, we did the mini-est of mini courses, trotting one way, circling the ring at a trot and trotting back the other way. Rodney was a star.
I think he had fun. For Rodney, riding is serious business. He doesn’t know how to have fun undersaddle. He is scared of so much – leather halters [Here We Stand], loading [Trailer Training] – that I forget in other situations, he can be quite bold [Dry Pool]. He sashayed back to the barn like he was the king of the universe.
Milton, not so much.
He too knows the path & cavalletti. He did not like the combination. He sucked back when we walked over them. He was so concerned when we trotted them that he spooked at Greg sitting at the end of the line. This does not bode well for encountering jump judges.
Me: Seriously horse? It’s a pole.
Milton: Yeah boss, but it is exhibiting unusual behavior. I must watch it closely for signs of danger.
I consider myself a weenie. It was weird to be the brave one.
He started to (mildly) pull when we trotted the line heading toward the barn. It was less Wheeee and more, I don’t like this, I gotta run. We did one more in that direction to prove we could and then trotted the other way with a lot of Whup, Whup on my part, to keep him slow. Groundcrew said Milton handled it fine. I, on the other hand, felt the storm brewing, distant, small, but on the horizon. The amount of nervous sweat on Milton’s shoulders supported my thesis. Of course, it is entirely possible that the next time, Milton will be all, Oh yeah, I’m an expert at this.
So, we inadvertently came up with a way to expose the horses to the essence of cross-country with none of the jump.
Thank you for reading.