I’m not sure if there’s anything more first-world-problem than this: after a lovely schooling outing on Saturday at a new venue, my phone died in the heat and proved to be irresurrectable (like the word I made up there?) so the only evidence I have of the schooling outing ever happening are my OWN MEMORIES.
But such is life when you are technology cursed. My phone will be replaced under warranty and I will never see the videos again, and my juju for phone killing will live on.
Schooling was a nice outing though, even if it was a bajillion degrees. We went to Eventful Acres, which is up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Murray stepped off the trailer with a little trepidation, but quickly settled in after I let him munch on some delicious irrigated grass. He even tacked up with minimal complaint, stood at the trailer while I dicked around with my hair net, and stood to be girthed like a professional. That was when I first suspected something was wrong.
We walked out and schooled a portion of the course that was buried in the woods, and despite taking the uneven footing and smattering of pine cones as an opportunity to spook, he didn’t try to dump me and run. While we waited for other people to school the elements, Murray calmly ate grass and then perked up when I pointed him to the jumps. He jumped things and landed happily and cantered on or turned to eat grass as I directed.
He was…. scarily grown up.
Multiple people commented on Murray being the Steady Eddy of the group, and I was pretty impressed with him myself. While the greenies in our group were tucking their heads between their knees or wiggling around and unable to focus or broncing for the first time in living memory, Murray was like “… can we eat some more of those clovers please?”
It was weird.
We schooled much of the BN course and a little of the Novice course, including a nice big turkey feeder and a really steep creek-to-log-out that utterly terrified me. I was like “are you serious that you are supposed to be galloping along then cross this path and go down this creek at a walk then trot out and jump this log ARE YOU FOR REAL?!?!” In truth, I felt that a few of the jumps were a little bit… odd for the terrain/level, but I understand that you have to use your terrain as you can!
Murray was jumping fantastically. I used my newly re-found skills of not driving into the saddle the entire time and stayed up in a teeny half seat and only sat (but lightly) a few strides prior to the fence. I could really feel this working as I pushed Murray toward the fence and prevented him from just shrinking his stride up beneath me*. And repeatedly, in response, Murray jumped the fence from a good spot, not his preferred spot deep to the base of the fence. We jumped in stride and it felt awesome!
* Interestingly there was a pony in our group who really exemplified Chris Scarlett’s statement that a shorter stride is faster/a longer stride is slower. I could quite literally watch and hear her squeezing those extra strides in. It was very interesting.
We had one truly disasterous set of refusals at a up bank to four stride to log with a downhill landing. Murray was first made quite uncomfortable by the turn to the up bank, as we had to pass by a small dam and a big willow tree with a scary shadow, and then he was busy staring at a tall hedge of Italian Cypress on our right. Once we got up the bank, after a couple of tries, Murray was like “yeah, no” to the big log. So I listened to him. He was so adult and reasonable for the entire schooling up until that moment, and I wasn’t riding particularly well. So I figured it was a good idea to trust the fact that Murray wasn’t willing to go out on the limb for me, and not jump that log. If I’d been in better riding shape and had a stronger trust bank, perhaps I would have been willing to push the issue. But after hardly jumping in two months and riding only a little bit more than that in the time, I was happy to take whatever Murray would give me.
We await to see if my phone will be able to give me the videos back if it ever connects to wiffy. My guess is no. So Murray’s most adultest** expedition will just have to live on in our memories!
**Not like that, get your mind out of the gutter.