Monday, September 26, 2016

Fall Is Coming And We Venture Out For Some XC Fun!

It may be hotter than hades, but by the time we make it to Labor Day weekend, I realize that I have survived another brutal summer, and while the days are still hot and humid, the mornings are staying cooler is 83 degrees at 10 am rather than 95 degrees, and the evenings are cool enough to resume walking the dogs.
It really helped my attitude this year in that my husband and I traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia over Labor Day for a wedding and then spent a few days at our daughter's in Arlington...which meant a trip to Middleburg! Being able to see the first pumpkins of the season and eat freshly harvested apples, really helped to put me in the mood and for once, when we returned to Florida, I did not gripe about how hot it was.
When I saw the post on facebook, that Marcea, my eventing trainer, was planning an outing to the Florida Horse Park for some cross country schooling, I immediately replied that I was coming. I contacted my friend, Tuesday, to let her know that I would be by to pick her and her horse up at 8 am and that she did not have the option of not going!
I have not schooled Tucker over cross country since last spring, our last outing was to a schooling show at Rocking Horse Stables in late May and I have been barely making it through each hot, humid and miserable summer day, looking forward to cooler weather. While I have been to the horse park as a spectator and vendor, I had never had the opportunity to school or show there, so I was ready for an adventure!
There were 9 of us, including Marcea. It was a bigger group than I was used to, but we were mostly riding at the same level, so it wasn't really an issue. Tuesday, who has only been the in the states for about s year, was not sure about what it meant to go schooling with a group, as apparently, things are done differently in the U.K. Her mount, Nebo, a very talented Thoroughbred, is green and was feeling quite fresh and full of himself. About halfway into our schooling, as we were practicing drops and banks, Tuesday echoed my sentiments, in that it was great going out in a school with an instructor, as we were being pushed and jumping things that we probably would not consider jumping if we were by ourselves. We spent nearly 3 hours tackling the hills, valleys, drops, ditches and water complex that make up the Florida Horse Park. Located just an hour north of Rocking Horse, the terrain is pretty similar, but the park is creative in how they have added valleys and change of terrain to make it different.
Tucker was very excited to be out on the course. He tackled everything with his usual gusto. Our only hesitancy came at the ditch...when Marcea asked for the first rider, we immediately volunteered, but as we neared the ditch, I realized it was a bit wider than the one we normally jumped at Rocking Horse. Tucker slammed on the brakes and then, not able to decide whether to jump it or walk it, he managed to step down into the ditch with his left foreleg and down onto the other side with his right. I thought for sure we were going down, but he quickly recovered, and we jumped the ditch a few more times without incident. I think that of all the jumps, the ditch will always be the one I dislike the most, and exactly for the reason above...I have a deep fear of the horse falling into the ditch.
I have to insert just one bit of complaint about the I love the people who event, they are one of the reasons I was drawn to the sport, with their generosity and helpful attitude, something you rarely see at hunter shows. In the past, of all the years that I have been cross country schooling, everyone has been very considerate of their fellow eventers, waiting their turn or going to another part of the course to school.
I was dismayed to see riders who disregarded the fact that we were a group with an instructor, and would regularly cut in front of one of our riders to jump a line. This happened over and over. The offenders were mostly from the same few, who were also riding in a group with an instructor. At one point, while I was coming through a valley and up the other side, I actually had to yell for someone to move out of my way, as he had parked himself and his horse right in our path to a fence.
Cross country courses are large areas of land, in case you hadn't noticed. There is absolutely no reason to be rude and ignore general eventing protocol and etiquette. I sincerely hope this was an isolated experience and not a trend, as there is no place for this behavior in eventing.
Other than that and with the exception that it ended up being a warmer day than I would have liked for September, it was a beautiful outing with great friends and talented horses.
What better way to spend a day?
Tucker after XC at the Florida Horse Park
Tucker slathered with poultice back home after XC

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