This weekend was a bank holiday weekend in Ireland – the clocks went back an hour (extra hour in bed, yay!) and I went away for a lovely weekend away with my better half to Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa (highly recommend this place!) – the weekend couldn’t have been better! However, every long weekend – strike that, every WEEKEND – in my opinion should be filled with some sort of horsey activity, and there seemed to be little on in the way of competitions that would be suitable for us. So, on a whim, I booked an hour’s cross country schooling at Lullymore Equestrian Centre – a schooling facility in Kildare with an all-weather 80m X 55m derby cross country arena. I was a bit tentative about going here on my own as Paddy had only been XC schooling once before, and I wasn’t sure how confident he would be, but Lullymore appealed to me as it has fences of varying heights and difficulty, as well as being in one big arena so less daunting for the horse.
I warmed up around the gallop track, which circles the perimeter of the arena – Paddy felt distracted so I focused on moving him back and forward within the trot and canter. While warming up, I trotted over and off the smaller bank fences, and popped over some of the small logs to get Paddy focused. I also let Paddy have a walk and trot through the water early on, to make it ‘not a big deal’ for him – he really doesn’t seem too bothered by water thus far, a little look and then straight in! Later I jumped in and out of the water, again not a bother to him – he had a quick look the first time and then happily jumped in and out. So happy with his attitude!
There are so many different types of fences to school your horse over at Lullymore – I popped Paddy over logs, ditches, banks, in and out of water, corners, skinnies… the list goes on. I was so pleased with his attitude – he had his ears pricked all the time, and was really taking me forward to the fences. We had two green moments – one at the ditch, which I didn’t really blame him for as he hasn’t much experience with them; and one over a skinny which the pilot gave terrible navigation to!
By the end of the session I was able to piece a small course together, doing a mix of fences from 70cm to 95cm fences. Video of the course below!
Paddy seemed to really enjoy himself today, I could feel the beginnings of him ‘taking a pull’ to some of the fences, which is exciting! Starting to see the signs of a promising eventer in him – just need to fitten him up and keep building that confidence over the fences. The plan is to build his fitness at the local gallops, and to get him out to Lullymore and Grange Farm a few more times over the winter to keep building his confidence, and be ready for hunter trial season next Spring!
Now to just find time to fit it all in!