April 13, 2014

We Conquer the Down Bank!

Connor and I had semi-private XC coaching today on the property instead of full team practice.  The plan was to duplicate the clinic XC school exactly (minus the down bank bounce, because no way n\man!) so that we weren't giving Connor anything new to think about.

Except that he had apparently slept since then and launched the down bank the first time.  I mean, it didn't look like this:

Julie Pate and Catch Me If You Can at Chatt Hills last weekend, full photo series of his leap into the water here: "How NOT to Jump a Drop into Water".  She says “I love that horse so much! He has the heart of a lion with the brain of a marble! A shiny marble! With glitter in it.”"
But it was scary.  So I did it again.  And again.  And with the blessing of my coach, that's more or less all we did.  Up the bank, down the bank, up the bounce bank, tiny log, tiny log, down bank, down bank, down bank.  We both really, really needed it.

Halfway through, I said, "It's so hard to plan for, because he jumps it differently every time."  My trainer replied, "I feel your pain.  It just goes to show how much more exposure he needs to everything.  He needs to do this so many times that he's bored out of his mind and it becomes routine."  I know what she means.  Keeping him interested will never be an issue when he checks for lions every time he takes the down bank at a slightly different angle than the previous approach, Connor creates his own fun.

We also did so much galloping and it was awesome!  We always think Connor runs out of gas quickly in the arena, but he's been fooling us.  That horse has lungs!  Once we had done the bank a few times, multiple times in a row he landed bucking and/or bolting off the down bank just for fun, so my trainer said, "Don't pull him up if he does that, put him to work!"

So the next time it happened, I made him canter off around the (really) big field  And then he moved up to a gallop, and I just hung out up there in my XC seat, having flashbacks to galloping racehorses and just calmly waiting for him to wear out.  I assumed it would be quick, I was wrong!  He was ears up having the time of his life, flying over the hilly terrain like it was the coolest thing he'd ever done with his life.  Truly, truly enjoying himself.  I wasn't going to pull him up, either, I was having fun myself.  Getting run away with on a Welsh Cob, even an athletic one, is just fun, not scary.

When I finally got him pulled up my trainer said, "That wasn't very productive.  His cruising speed needs to be slower than that."  I was thinking "...but it was fun!" but I responded, "Okay."

But most importantly, neither of us were impressed by down banks by the end, and I was comfortable with the whole process of slipping my reins and keeping my upper body still and back while he checked for lions.  We even calmly trotted it once, and when that went well, she had us quit there.  We have a lot of work to do, but he's going to be worth all the time and effort we're putting in.  XC machine!


  1. Sounds like so much fun!! I miss galloping in fields!

  2. I want to gallop on a runaway welsh cob!

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  4. Sounds like you made a huge improvement in one ride...how awesome!

  5. I think Fancy Pony and I are going to love down banks! You'll be loving them with us in no time, at this rate! What a blast!!

  6. Yay!!! Comrade and I played with up banks yesterday, only ours were in the middle of the woods. We could only walk down the bank. Go Cobs :)