We took Wild Jersey Boy to his first ever cross country school this past weekend. The time was right – lots of hacking and walking over fallen trees and logs in the woods, walking through creeks and into ponds, and across every natural swale that passes for a ditch that I can find. Now it was time to introduce him to real CROSS COUNTRY jumps. Ditches that are little boxes in the ground, real water jumps with banks, scary man made obstacles with brush and air underneath. YIKES! I was so excited to get there, this adorable horse has come so far!
This is the FIRST time I rode Jersey in December. He was a little unsure of what I wanted but the FANCY was there!
In a nutshell, Jersey was a total star. We warmed up with a little w-t-c in our friend Mari’s show jump field, which Jersey thought was kind of a big deal at first. I don’t mind if young horses need to have a look around – new places can be unnerving to them, and he was by himself which can make some horses nervous – ottb’s or not. He settled very quickly and then we hacked down to the xc schooling field with Mari on her own OTTB, Remy – who, it’s worth mentioning, came out of the CANTER trainer listings! yay! It was fantastic to have her with us to give us a lead over jumps and to help make the experience for Jersey one that would only build his confidence.
This log is HUGE, ok?
While we might seem to get our horses going quickly, in reality we are really very careful with them. We like them to have fun, and we are very careful not to do things to scare them or overface them. One incident of broken trust can set your training back months!
That said, we walked around the xc jumps, letting Jersey take it all in and then simply strolled to Mari’s massive water complex.. walked into the water and across it .. No biggie! ..and it is something walking into a pond on our hacks translated to perfectly.. It didn’t take Jersey long to think that water jumps are KEWL and he decided he’d trot through ! Splashing is FUN!
A few times out of the water and hopping up the baby bank at trot and we were ready to tackle the LOGS!
We trotted over a tiny log then progressed to a bigger (beginner novice size) hogsback style pile of logs! After that we put a few little jumps together – a skinny log between trees to a stone wall and then on to another log.. this was the first time we’d cantered fences – I’m a firm believer in starting babies over solid fences at canter before Show Jump fences. Not only am I just more comfortable with it, to me it helps them figure out what to do with their feet and gain confidence with jumps that are solid. I found his canter to be so incredibly adjustable – a perfect example of the JUMP doing the work of balancing him.
On to the baby ditch.. which was a non incident because by this point Jersey was wondering where the Head of the Lake was! ha! SO brave..
It’s crazy how a young horse’s mind works when it comes to new jumping experiences – there was an airy little jump that, as he came to it, his own shadow appeared after the fence. This spooked him a little but he proved to be catty and brave and got himself over it with style, natural athleticism and complete honesty!
We ended our school at this point.. completely delighted with Jersey and how he totally stepped it up to this new experience. It’s amazing how these young horses surprise me – just when you think you’re teaching THEM you find out that they are teaching YOU! Teaching you how amazing they are.. and how willing and happy they are to do new things! Love the Jerz! 🙂
There is nothing not to love about this young prospect. Do get in touch with us if you are interested in seeing Jersey or any of the CANTER MidAtlantic horses!