Cross country part two

Where the only aching body parts are my shoulders. Bruises are starting to form on the inside of my calves. Other than that I feel perfectly fine, but tired.

An ordinary day here at the Bel-Air Equestrian Centre begins with breakfast around 8. A bit before 9 we go to the stable yard and get our horse for the morning. Today I got Kiwi, a darker scewbald mare. Lennart got to ride Luigi again and Sabbe got Nala, a dark brown mare that I rode last year.


As before we started in the arena, to get to know the horses a bit before we headed out into the field. Noni was our instructor for the day. Kiwi was a really nice horse, but a bit slow, so I had to use my legs a bit more than I'm used to. Once out in the field we jumped the tyres, a rollup, a ditch and some more fences shaped like ordinary wooden fences. We also combined different fences and jumped them in a row. Kiwi jumped really well, but kept on being just a wee bit too slow. It was a really fun lesson and I had to work hard. In the beginning Kiwi always put in an extra stride before the fence - even if she had a nice canter on the way in - but when Noni told me to relax my arms and let them be more like rubber bands she jumped really well. I also need to remember to keep my back straight - and not fall forward - in front of the fence. This is both to make it easier for the horse to jump and also prevent me from falling of if the horse makes an unexpected stop.

The second hour in the morning we brought our new knowledge out into the real world for a ride in the woods. We started with some nice canters and moved on to the logs in the woods, rode through the water and jumped a log followed by a drop of around a metre. The drop looked like an ordinary fence up until I was right before it, but drops seems to be something my body have figured out, so we just jumped down in a flow. We also jumped some of the fences on the nearby field. We moved into another field, jumped some logs and ended the lesson with a nice speedy canter up the field.

After this it was time for a much needed lunch break. Food and a bit of relaxation restored my energy and at 13.30 we went out to get another lesson in the field. As I could see Fionn in the stables my hopes went up, but I got to ride Kilcree, Lennart’s favourite from last year. Lennart got Romeo again and Sabbe got Fionn.

After a short check that everything worked in arena we quickly moved out into the fields. Kilcree was a rather lazy horse in the arena, he tried to cut every corner and really didn’t want to work. But as soon as he got to jump he changed. Out in the field he turned even more happy and forward, throwing himself and me at every fence. We began jumping a bench-like obstacle, trying to find our horse’s canter and the perfect line before and after the fence. We moved on to some log fences, changing the line and slope of the field. When the slope gets steeper uphill you need to get the horse’s hind legs even more in under him. With KC this was easy.

After those warmup jumps we moved to the bottom of the field to jump into a grove and jump a fence in a upwards slope. KC jumped really well as long as I remembered not to fall forward onto his shoulders. I could feel him enjoying himself and he even bucked once. We jumped the same line one more time adding an extra fence jumping out of the grove. As the last thing of the day we got to canter up the fields, all horses racing as fast as they possibly could. A great way to end the lessons, both for horses and riders.

The rest of the afternoon and evening we got to take it easy. We had planned for it to rain a lot, but the rain never came so I watch a bit of a lesson that was going on in the arena.