How to introduce a Greenie to XC questions
I was an event rider for a few years when i was in my teens. I had a nasty rotational fall and busted my skull. So after that i quit eventing.
It's been about 16 years since my accident and I am more than ready to try it again. My current horse is a jumper. He's not terribly brave, but he is the type of horse that once he's seen it, and gotten over/through it, he's perfect after that.
So anyway, the weekend of the 24th is a relatively inexpensive clinic. I have decided that I am going to be brave and give it a go. My only real issue is that I'm super unclear about how this is going to work. I'm older now and I dislike being thrown much much more than i did when i was a kid. So my fear is how the heck I'm supposed to introduce my horse to the new stuff. I can't even get him to walk through a puddle in the breezeway, so i can hardly imagine galloping through the water on course!
I sort of want to just take it slow, and see how he feels. See if he will trot a couple things or if he slams on the breaks and gives me the finger about the whole idea. haha! How do you folks introduce a greenie to this sort of thing?
This is where we're going by the way:
Copper Meadows Eventing
When I took my TB to his first XC outings (before he was retired... now I have a 4 yr old to start all over with!), the clinic instructor had us warm-up in the "arena", then we did some stadium jumps, then moved out to the field to walk around for a bit, then started jumping the XC fences.
She allowed (and recommended) us to walk the horses infront of/behind certain jumps before we attempted them. Let the horse see it with their left eye and let them see it with their right eye (don't walk straight up to the fence, but walk in front of it-- parallel to it). For water jumps, we got to walk around in the water first and let the horses get used to it, then we jumped out of the water (not into, for greenies). If your horse is having issues, ask if he can follow a more experienced horse (a benefit of a group clinic).
Also just remember to have fun (because it is really fun!) and make sure your horse is having fun too, especially since it is his first time. Don't feel pressured to jump something you aren't comfortable with, as there is no rush to jump it all and you can always go back!
I have never been to Copper Meadows, but know people who have and it looks really fun!
The clinician should be able to walk you through everything step by step. I would make sure you'll be placed in an appropriate group for "very green to cross country" horses, and then when you get out there on the horse, make sure you recap everything short form to the clinician again so it's fresh in their mind while teaching you and they'll be able to best help you. I would definitely want to know if someone I was teaching had a major accident and then was finally coming back for the first time on a green horse, and if they're nervous about anything in particular (or everything!). Honesty is definitely going to help a lot in this situation.
If you're just starting out you won't be doing anything too big or difficult, everything will probably be small enough to trot or walk over if your horse has second thoughts. I would just let him have a look if need be, then press on, legs on, eyes up, shoulders back. Using another horse to give a lead is a great idea too if he needs some extra confidence. He may have some stops and look at some things, or some BIG overjumps, but if you keep everything simple and low key, be positive and supportive as a rider, you should come away feeling accomplished and excited for next time:) Ask lots of questions too! You are paying for the clinicians time and help, so definitely take advantage of it.
My TB had a terrible experience at a X-Country course previously before I owned him.
I took him to a Pony Club Camp that was held at the same X-Country course. He was petrified of the pond. The clinician was a great help and really took extra time helping us, just let your clinician know that your horse is green to the course! One thing that really helped my horse was the night before every day on the course, I would take him out there and lunge him in and out of the pond, and around the "spooky jumps" for about an hour or until we ended on a good note, with treats of course :lol:
Good luck & have a blast!!
Every clinic I've done started with warming up on stadium jumps, and then introducing the horses to the XC obstacles. The older more experienced horses will usually go first to show the greener horses the ropes. It seems to work really well.
Welcome back to eventing! Have fun at the clinic.
Lots of great advice. Thank you everyone.
I'm pretty excited to go out and see how he does. He tends to do really well when we're away from home, surprisingly. We attended our first schooling show on the 3rd of this month... just an easy hunter/jumper show. But he packed me around like a bona fide show pony. :)
He is kept in a 12x12, and ridden in an arena every day. So i think a nice gallop on the grass for a few hundred yards will do him some serious good.
I do have a question... with the stadium jumping, how high do they normally start you? We jump comfortably (by we i mean, me!) around 3' to about 3'3"... i tend to lose my nerve around 3'9". So they won't normally be anything that big, right?
I don't think we ever reached 3' on warm-up. Of course the more XC-experienced horses might do higher/more complicated warm-ups, but it is not meant to be extremely strenuous on the horse. One time we did a gymnastic and another time we did x-rails on a circle, both also with low verticals.
What level did you sign up for at the clinic? Even if height is not an issue for you, the questions involved on XC get more complex with each level. It's always good start new horses out at BN, so they can build up their skills. If the clinician sees your horse is handling things well, they can always have you jump bigger stuff once your out on the course.
It's a level below Beginner Novice actually. I jokingly call it "baby's first day out"...
do you suppose that beginner novice would be more appropriate?
I think regardless of how high the horse is jumping at home, it's really important to always have the first outing be really small, really simple, and FUN. Especially with cross country, there's no rush! You want yourself and the horse coming away feeling totally positive, accomplished, and happy about how it went, and excited to come back for more!. If you're pushing and overfacing the horse and rider, especially on the first outing, that's going to set you back in the long run for sure. Beginner novice or a low level like that would be appropriate.
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