It seems like ages since I last went XC and recently we have really been cracking on with our dressage so it was a little treat for Soap and I to get out and about over some rustic fences for a change. I think he must have been having the same XC withdrawal feelings as me because he was brimming with enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to get started. This was supposed to be Jack’s first structured introduction to XC but because he is still getting used to his gel pads and I hadn’t been able to do as much prep as I wanted I took Soap instead. The clinic was held by my sponsor Rob Stevens which was great, and another bonus was that it was held at Boomerang a venue I really love for its variety of fences, and handily it’s only a short drive from home. We started off in the arena over a little course of SJs to warm up, and I almost fell off with shock as Soap left them all standing! He felt so different, really powerful and using his back so much more, I am amazed at how much of a positive affect his new flat work is having already on his jumping.
We moved to the XC paddock and warmed up over some open ditches, building to a coffin. The final XC competition we did last year ended rather disastrously as Soap had an undiscovered virus and tied up, which involved stopping at a Trakhena so I was keen to build back up our positive ditch experience. Soap seemed to have forgotten all about our little blip and just ate up the ditches, and made a nice job of the log, ditch, wood pile combo. Before we could go and have a play in the water Russ who owns Boomerang had to drive his dune buggy through it first to break the ice! Soap just dived on in completely un-flustered by the ice burghs and was fab up and down steps, and out up a bank with log on top. We then popped an owl hole, a few palisades and 2 clusters of skinny mushrooms on a 90 degree turn. I was super pleased with the mushrooms because they are quite spooky and he has never jumped anything like them before. We then moved to 3 wide skinnys on a big curve, making sure to ride him to the bottom of the fence, keep my hands wide and low, and a nice bouncy SJing canter. We did these quite a few times throughout the session and I was really chuffed with him.
Next we tackled the Trakhena and Soap just flew, then a house, single barrels, and onto a step complex. I love jumping drops on Soap it’s really fun, and he seems to have a good natural technique, lowering not launching to make the drops feel small. So buoyed up with confidence because he was going well I even jumped the big drop which I’m guessing was about 4ft! Eeeke! Then we did a sunken road, a bank, 2 upturned blue and white boat skinnys, and a ditch palisade to finish. I had just the best time ever despite the VERY cold winter conditions Soap was fab, and I just can’t wait to get in that start box at Moreton BE90/Intro in 3 weeks time! Best of all was the fact that my Mum bravely wrapped up and videoed loads, and another lady in our group had brought her photographer friend who also snapped some of us, and is going to send the pics on to me, so I’ll be uploading those when they arrive, in the mean while here is the video and my fave stills below