As the season is fast approaching and I’m already trying to plan where I can take Jack for his first unaffiliated ODE I thought it might be a good idea if I got round to some XC schooling! I am very lucky because on the farm where our yard is based there is a small XC course. It’s only up to 2’9” but it has quite a variety of fences, and is ideal for initial XC jump training of young horses and reformed delinquents! This was quite a provocative location for Jack as along side the jumps is a long grassy stretch where his previous owners used to gallop him for his point 2 point fitness training, things could get interesting! To begin with I cantered Jack up and down past the jumps to test out my brakes, and to take the edge off him. When I nearly swallowed his ears a few times I took this to mean he was a bit over bitted so I moved the reins up the rings, and he settled more but even when I tried a totally loose contact he was still backing up and shaking his head about so I put this down to old habits and excitement. I started with a little rail and barrels fence of about 2ft and jumped it a few times to get a feel for him, and his way of going over and between fences. He started a little fussy and opinionated, but I just kept calmly asking the same question and eventually he settled really nicely, and we finished on a fab note with him soft, round, light, and in a lovely even rhythm. I was very pleased with him considering the last time he jumped anything rustic was racing about 2 years ago. After the session he chilled out and walked home loose and relaxed and I had a big smile on my face. Before we started I made sure I popped on my Kan Teq back protector just incase, but thankfully it wasn’t needed. I have entered Jack in a XC clinic with Robert Stevens at Boomerang on Feb 13th (let’s hope that’s not unlucky!) so between now and then I need to work on finding a nice XC bit he likes, and his straightness as he has a tendancy to twist his head and neck. Below is a little video of todays antics and I think you can see a real progression as he realises what I want and settles into his work.