Today was fantastic! A fellow boarder and I trekked up to Fair Hill to "compete" in a paper chase. Basically it was a part endurance ride/part scavenger hunt/part xc school. We were told the course was 5-6 miles, but when we started at 12pm, the teams that had gone out at 10am had yet to return. 6 miles, you say? Make that 12 or more! The entire ride took us 2.5 hours and that was with a good bit of trotting and cantering. The landscape was beautiful--rolling hills, streams, old bridges. There were several moments when I just had stop and remember where I was and how lucky I was to be on the back of a horse.
Caesar was pretty anxious at the start; he wasn't too keen on having to wait in line behind other teams, especially with an xc start box near by (Mom, I'm supposed to go in that thing and then run out of it; I got this. Let me do it!) Once we got going, he settled in pretty nicely and did a good job of trusting me over some of the tricky bridges and tunnel crossings (where I feigned bravery). When we cantered out in the open fields, he was definitely eager to take the lead, thinking he had to win. But for the most part, he settled into a balanced canter.
At the end of the course, we were allowed to jump some of the xc fences. I did a pretty good job of letting him go before the jumps, both letting him have his head and letting him see the striding (at this point, he knows way more than me...eesh). And the jumps felt awesome! I think the experience of trotting and cantering on new terrain helped me develop a deeper trust in Caesar's ability to do his job and take care of me. I often ride in an overly defensive, overly controlling way, and he's a horse that knows what to do and needs to be trusted and supported in doing it. After today, I feel far more capable of being the kind of rider he needs.
I feel more prepared to compete next weekend now that I have this experience under my belt; let's hope I feel the same way once the anxiety sets in mid-week!
Tomorrow, Mike and I are off to Loudon County to do some bike riding and sight-seeing; should be a perfect day for it! I start my second jewelry class on Monday night. I have several projects in mind, and I can't wait to get started. I'm hoping to post photos of my work on the blog. Free advertising....er...
Have a happy weekend and enjoy these photos (Mike was only able to take shots at the beginning and end, bummer):
Waiting to start (we are fourth from the right). Click on the photo to take a closer look; notice anything missing?
I love my horse! Clearly, he loves the view behind me :)
Sunburn! Nice medical arm band line! Oh, my...
Random shots of Topo, ever deserving of her namesake!
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