Our orders: leave the farm at 9:15 sharp. Our neighbor at the barn, Kim generously allowed us to haul 2 of our horses in her trailer instead of having to unhook our "home" from all its water/electricity/pop-out glory. We loaded her two horses, plus Atlas and Fizzy (Thomas seemed a bit put-off that he wasn't going on this mystery adventure). I drove Amy, Kim, myself, and the 4 horses in a convoy with Buck's other two rigs holding eight horses through the windy backroads of Ocala. In about 20 minutes we pulled into the slightly cramped and chaotic parking lot at Bruce Davidson's Ocala farm. The rectangle shaped parking area seemed full already with RVs, trailers, campers, and what seemed to be a carpenter/welders workspace?
I have to say it is a bit intimidating riding while legend Bruce watches from his mount in-between yelling at his own riders (I didn't envy them a bit!) I heard the phrase "you are riding that intermediate horse like a novice pony"......boy he's funny, but ouch.
First up on Fizzy, I was practicing the type of canter we worked on in yesterday's show jump lesson. Buck had Andrea (his girlfriend and great rider) do a long course around the property over many fences I could not see from my vantage point.
Me: "Hm, hope i can find them all!"
Buck: "If its in your way, jump it."
I did not get quite the right canter the first time, and petered out over a few jumps, but got through the course of large oxars, mounds, ditches, water, drops, corners, skinnies. Buck said to try it again, but don't protect her so much. She's so good at patting the ground in that last short step, I didn't need to create it for her and set her up so much. But, I also cant lean forward and race her flat at the fences. I still hold the connection upfront, but bend the knees at tap with my heels each step to encourage that realllllly forward gallop (and i mean forward, I usually don't gallop like that unless I am on an intermediate course!). But this way she has plenty of "go" but in an organized and balanced way. The next course was so fantastic, she felt like she COULD go intermediate! I was super thrilled with that ride ;)
Next up atlas, baby's first xc school! He was more than a little confused, but walked and trotter through the water, was a bit excited with all the galloping horses going by, poor thing. He was doing great over some of the logs, bigger logs, and even some hanging logs.
Buck: "Come jump this log oxar, luckily someone ran into it and its smaller now. Here, we'll be wings"
yeah, so Buck is riding Titanium and parks him alongside this larger oxar while another student does the same on the other side. I was a little concerned my green bean would run into titanium, a very important horse at the moment I might mention, or over buck (also a very important rider at the moment). But Atlas ran on down and jumped it! good pony, phew.
Buck: "Whitney, follow those two horses on a course around the property"
Yeah, it all started out well, until we got on a long galloping stretch and Atlas remembered that he had been well trained to....race. Yup, I got run away with for a bit with a little 5yo, it was fun. Amy told me she heard me call out "Atlas, stop it!" from back at the trailer! hahah. Luckily he only galloped away from me for a few strides until we galloped in a few circles to calm him down. I made my way safely back to buck who asked how it went.
Me: "well, he thought he was at the races and took off a bit"
So, my conclusion is that Buck is trying to kill me.
When we rolled back into the farm, arms tired from keeping baby ponies at bay, still having two more horses to work. Luckily, I found a really cute surprise!
Lust bucket looking up sleepily from her beauty nap. I crawled on the hay close to her and she let me pet her, I almost figured out how to take a picture of us together, but she got bored of waiting and got up. It was the cutest thing ever! Thomas was still not pleased that he was left behind, but felt much better after a long trot set.
Jump like you mean it! -W