Blog Archive

Saturday, December 28, 2013

On the move again...

HUGE thanks to everybody who came out to help with the massive hay move!

On Thursday it was my dad, Chris, Emily, Jamie, Kirby, Rebecca and Sarah all helping move tack boxes and two trips of hay.

Friday my dad took another load over while I packed more stuff at the barn.  An easy day comparatively.

Then Saturday was the real challenge.  Rebecca and Mike did the am barn chores so the rest of us could move.  Chris rebuilt the tack lockers we took out when we moved in while Steph and I loaded vehicles.  Jen and Abby loaded up her car as well to transport items.  With Victoria also volunteering a vehicle, they all headed out to take the first load of stuff while the rest of us started on hay.

Steve was a life saver both manipulating the tractor and being strong enough to throw hay significant distances for hours on end.  Kyle and Chris also contributed to the strength category, making the day significantly more successful than it otherwise would have been.

Mieke, Bryn and Paul came and started on loading the horse trailer.  Our second big trailer never showed, so we were making due with anything that could haul hay ;)    On the other end, Aileen met us to help unload.  Emily and Courtney were doing an excellent job helping Laura with stacking hay after we dropped it and went back for the next load.

My dad and Paula were managing the transportation of the big van while Stephy and I managed the horse trailer and Victoria, with her Merry Poppins car was transporting mountains of tack and other items.   Stephy and I read each other's minds fairly well so we had a pretty smooth system going quickly.  Made life much easier.

Adriana and Kayla arrived to help and the next truck-load got filled rapidly.   Mieke, Bryn and Paul followed that load to the new place to help unload.

And the day continued back and forth, focusing entirely on hay, hay and more hay.  Until in the very end the survivors:  Emily, Kyle, Chris, Steve, Victoria, Kayla, Adriana and me loaded the last of the hay into the truck for tomorrow's delivery and turned the lights off for the night. 

HUGE thanks to everybody who helped move today:   Adriana, Aileen, Alan, Bev, Bryn, Chris, Emily, Kayla, Kyle, Mieke, Paul, Paula, Steph, Steve, and Victoria.  You guys are all kinds of awesome!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hyde Moffatt Clinic

Last post in August??? Oh dear... Somewhat traditional at this time of year though I'm afraid -- maybe next year I'll make it farther *g*

Regardless - it's October now and I'm back :) Summer was a blast, show team did an awesome job and we find ourselves already at our fall clinic!

Hyde Moffatt came to play on Sunday. We had a great turnout -- every class was full! And, while a little chilly at first, reasonable weather all day :)

The groups were divided ostensibly by height, but Hyde's focus was on accuracy and effectiveness, so the jumps stayed low for all. The first half of each two-hour session was flatwork. The rule was simple - when you put your leg on, the horse must go forward. End of story. Simple, yet surprisingly difficult in some instances to implement ;) Lots of work on transitions - both between gaits and within the gait.

The idea is, there is no randomness in riding. Everything is predictable and should be repeatable. And if you do the same thing the same way every time, it's fair to expect the same result. It's just that easy. And just that hard. So Hyde discussed what the aids should be, and got the riders to focus very specifically on what they were doing every time they asked for a change. I was pleased to discover that most were very aware of what they had done -- if not necessarily able to correct it. Which is totally okay. Hyde made a point of noting it's our mistakes we learn from. When everything goes beautifully, you rarely stop to analyse why. But when things become horribly disastrous is when we tend to smarten up. If only to avoid the repeatable response >;-P

Once everybody had forward installed, we got to start jumping. The exercises varied slightly from group to group depending on rider skill level and which exercises best suited the horses involved, but throughout it all a focus on the four requirements of jumping: Rhythm, Balance, Energy, Straightness. Anything that didn't work perfectly was treated as a learning opportunity -- which of those four was missing? And how can it be fixed? Rhythm and Straightness were the two most people had challenges with. Energy had mostly been addressed on the flat, and most of the horses playing today were quite naturally well balanced. The exercises were set to challenge the other two as turns were in strange places that made for very awkward lines. Unless, of course, the rider managed to get the right combination of Rhythm, Balance, Energy, and Straightness.

With noticeable improvement in every horse/rider combination, the clinic was deemed a success from all. Hyde's approach was practical and positive and he taught the cross-rail group with the same (or possibly even more!) enthusiasm than the 3'+ group. At the end of every group, he spoke to each rider independently and gave her homework. So now everybody knows what to work on until the next one. That, and, when all else fails, "be the rhythm"!

Sadly most of the photos were blurry, but you can view them here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer update :)

As so often seems to happen about this time of year, I'm so busy at the barn, the blog somewhat disintegrates...   Oops.

So much fun stuff has been going on, that there's been a distinct lack of writing time!   Photos and mini-updates always on Facebook, but here, silence.  So sad.

Today, is the day to fill in the blanks.  In fast forward...   What have we been up to?

Well Rowan and Brena went to Equus -- where Brena was in first until she choose to do PE XC at T speed >;-P  bahaha she had a blast but dropped to third *g*    We've done all kinds of XC schooling -- Glenarden twice, Myrddin, Will O Wind, Caledon...  Out almost every week with different riders each time.  So very much fun!

Did a random vaulting night at one point -- will probably repeat that with some other groups :)   Emily put together this vid -- unfortunately Katlyn's ride didn't get captured, but suffice to say she showed us all up *g*

Have a couple new jumps to play with.  HUGE thanks to Tammy for the barrels, and to Bryn for the gate, the fixed xc roll-top, AND the viaduct!  Wow - awesome!

On a business note -- we need more students for the fall semester.  Too many leaving for university this fall :(   Have a couple spaces for the tween age range, a couple for novice adults ("real" adults), and a bunch for the int/adv university age types... So if you know of anybody who wants to ride, send em over :) Have a free lesson for anybody you bring in who signs up :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

GRS Entertainment :)

I have a lot of fun teaching, and a large part of that is the awesome students :)

Now mostly they're awesome because they're seriously dedicated and try really hard to accomplish what I'm asking them *g*   But sometimes they're awesome because of what they say.  And that is what keeps us all laughing.  So here's a collection of some of my favourites...

Steph on a cold winter day re her noticeably shivering - "It's just my cold gremlins trying to get out"

From Eve (about nine years old at the time) while riding with no reins, hands in front lotus-style - "I'm a zen child".  If I recall correctly there was also some air-guitar happening that ride.

From Nicole - "Friends, let's all change direction!"  And then after a reasonable pause when she's still the only one going the other way -- "I guess we're not as close friends as I thought..."

Steph: "so for dressage, you kind of have to be a solid jelly-fish"   Surprisingly accurate actually :)  But definitely made me laugh.

Eve: "Gallop, Nick!  Gallop!"  -- if you've ever met Nick, you'll understand why this is funny :)

Nicole: "Quit criticizing Laur and watch where you're riding!"  hahaha another student critiquing the less-than-even jump I'd just built, nearly ran over Nicole who was helping ring crew.  Her answer was perfect!

Brena: "Stop pony stop!"  Bahahah okay so that's just funny all on its own.  It's even funnier if you realize she was bareback, hanging off the side of Bella's neck, and the pony was very slowly walking toward the arena door.

From Nicole:  "I did that!" -- this is a long running one, in which Nicole takes credit for everything from the sun coming out to good footing on course.  It all began at Cedar Run...

And of course from Steph, the closely related "take credit for flukes".  One of the most important of The Rules.

Sometimes even I get to join in.  From me to Steph: "That was a half-halt and a half.  Which I guess makes an actual halt.  Which is kind of what happened."  Bahaha oh dear.  Can't be brilliant all the time!

You'll note some names appear a lot.  When Steph, Nicole, Paula and Brena are all in the same class -- I'm not sure how much anybody learns, but it's usually an entertaining one to watch :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Did that actually just happen?

So today was the kind of show that makes for good blog posts *g*

Let's start with it's been raining incessantly for the last several days.  Weather forecast for today seemed to change every few minutes, varying between severe thunder storms and exceptionally hot and sunny.  So I came with clothing for everything from 10deg and soaking wet to 40deg and sunny.  And I wore almost all of them.  Sheesh.

But we did get lucky -- no rain.  And while the temp started out cool and the world was very wet from the earlier week, we at least didn't get soaked.  By the end of the day the hot and humid had won out to a degree that made me glad I'd chosen to leave Sasha at home.

So I get to the barn and the first thing I find out is Nina's thrown a shoe.  Great start.  Okay, nbd.  We have lots of time and there should be a farrier on site.  Got everybody loaded reasonably well and off to Glenarden we went.

When we got to the show, cars went left and trailers right.  Did you hear about the rain?  Right -- the cars were doing a slow motion version of bumper-cars.  Brena and Victoria came closest to exchanging paint, but eventually we all slid into various spots without hitting anybody.  We decided getting out could be a challenge left for later.

As we hiked to the trailer, it quickly became evident that parking area was having similar problems. Our trailer was stuck in the mud and they were hooking the tractor up to pull it.  It was freed and parked fairly quickly and the tractor stuck around to free the next several trailers to all get stuck.  A promising beginning *g*

Although, I have to give them credit -- the guys worked all morning to flatten the mud and haul in buckets of sand etc to give traction.  By mid-day it seemed there might actually be a safe way out.

Farrier isn't on site yet, but I deem Nina okay to do dressage with one shoe.   Well Nina clearly felt that was completely unacceptable and on the walk over to warm-up, removed the other one.  Sheesh.  hahaha but at least now she was even!

Victoria and Nina as well as Emily and Charlie were scheduled to be in Rings 1 and 2 at the same time.  Pretty handy as far as warm-up goes.  And they were in the ring within a few moments of each other.   Charlie...  Well -- suffice to say Charlie's talents lie elsewhere.  He *can* put in a reasonable test, but you have to be a master negotiator to get it.  And that's to get 'reasonable'.  Good is a stretch of the imagination.  And Emily is in her second year of showing.  hahaha but what she did do, very well, was accurate.  And from that pov, it was one of their best tests yet.

It was interesting to watch two of my students going at the same time, on opposite horses.  Because  while Charlie's skills show themselves on XC, Nina is exceptionally talented in dressage, albeit somewhat lazy about the whole scenario.  With a little accuracy and pace, they'll be at the top of the pack.  But today despite their best warmup yet -- very impressive! - their circles were a little bit interpretive and their pace slightly less than ambitious.  And sadly, artistic merit is rarely rewarded in dressage.  It was, however, progress from the last test, so all good.  Victoria kept her cool and focused on more than simply staying in the ring :)   And as a result, the scores went up *g*  It's only the second HT ever for both of them.

So as they headed back I had a minute or two to relax and chat with people until Brena and Bella made their way to the warmup.  They had lots of time to relax and warmup and Bella was being an absolute star.  It was Brena's first HT, but despite a whole wackload of butterflies doing acrobatics in her stomach, she put in a fabulous dressage warmup.  Bella was going beautifully and Brena was riding well.  Then it was her turn to go in the ring.  And amazingly -- they kept it together!  Woohoo!   Let me tell you, that legitimately *is* amazing.  If you've never done competed in dressage or eventing before, riding the test to the same quality as the warm-up is HARD.  Between rider nerves "I have to do it perfectly NOW" and the horse stressing from the change in environment and being alone, often riding ability and quality plummet as you enter at A.  And far far more so when it's your first "real" competition.  So I was pretty thoroughly impressed that they held it together, and then even more impressed that the test was good.  Accurate and nice rhythm and even connected at points.  Pretty happy at that one.

While Brena was riding, Victoria was off making friends with the farrier.  Who, it turns out, apprenticed under her regular farrier.  So that's all good -- same style for a horse with tricky feet is a good thing.  Nina made it back to the trailer with some fake hoof and two firmly affixed shoes.  Sweet.  All three horses were comfortable after having been untacked, watered and bathed and were quite enjoying munching on the grass, so we left them with their various grooms (HUGE thanks to Barb, Margaret, Sarah and Selena!) while we went to walk XC.

The course is basically a big serpentine all in one field.  It left me wishing I'd brought my big camera lens -- I could've shot 3/4 of the fences standing in the warm-up ring.  Last year it was laid out quite differently so it didn't even occur to me.  Ah well, live and learn.  Regardless, the course was very inviting and appropriate for the level.  There was the odd tricky jump which we discussed and a couple places that were slightly flooded that I warned them to watch out for.  Falling off because your horse quits at an unexpected water obstacle just isn't any fun at all!

On the way back we walked stadium, which was being held indoors.  Unusual in eventing, but a good choice for today given their footing options outside.  That course looked significantly easier than I'd expected -- the challenge would be the draw of the open door half-way down the long side, and being the only horse inside while all the other friends in the whole wide world were outside.  Being indoors, it was a tight, turny course -- but expecting tight and twisty even outside, the girls had been practising for that this week.  So no worries.

Had quite a long break before xc, during which my oh-so-excitable horses slept and the people relaxed and socialized.  Always good :)

Then it was off to XC -- I LOVE running XC first, but it's fairly rare these days so none of my students have ever done it.  That was all sorts of fun.   Whip those butterflies into formation and 3, 2, 1...  Have a great ride!   hahaha and they did indeed.

Nina was off first -- XC is new to both her and her rider, so it's a bit of a learning curve.  Their first four fences were *amazing*!  By far their best yet -- even done mostly in the canter!  Woohoo!  At fence five, turning directly away from home, they had a serious hesitation but Victoria's determination got them over.   Six -- which was absolutely terrifying -- and it's closely related seven Nina gave a very close look at but jumped on the first try.  Sadly she was not the least bit interested in fence eight.  They cleared it on the third try *phew*  But enough that they got to keep going!   Flew over nine and ten, reestablishing their earlier course brilliance.  And then at eleven, for no apparent reason, Nina felt the need for a closer look.  Unfortunate as that put them at the end of their permissible stops.  But Victoria got her over, and while eliminated, had still accomplished her goals.   They had stayed together, under control, and gotten over everything!   AND without a single temper-tantrum!  Woohoo!!!   The rest will come :)
Victoria and Nina on XC
Brena and Bella were next -- and they were bang on.  The smile on Brena's face at the first fence stuck all the way around the course.  She stayed out of Bella's way, let her do her job, and enjoyed the ride.  It was absolutely beautiful to watch -- I was so impressed.   And when they finished the course, she had that "I'm hooked forever" look on her face that anybody who's insane enough to participate in this sport will recognize.  It's the reason we all do it.  And so after telling her how impressed I was, it was pretty heartbreaking to have to tell her she'd been eliminated.  Seriously?  After a *perfect* run?  They hadn't had a single stop!  But unfortunately Brena was so very focused on her course that she forgot one minor fence.  Didn't go anywhere near it -- there was absolutely no thought of a runout.  Just simply forgot about it.  It sucks, but it's a rite of passage for eventing and at least she got it done early!  hahaha first show, not half bad :)   AND another rider in her division missed the same fence in the same way, so she wasn't even alone in it.   As she took Bella back to untack, I went and begged permission for her to continue with show jumping, which was granted :)  Woohoo!  Thanks to the powers that be at Glenarden for that -- made for a very positive experience!
Brena and Bella on XC
Last of my girls up on XC was Emily riding Charlie.  Cross is Charlie's favourite phase by far and while he walks into the start box calmly, he knows about countdowns and starts vibrating as the starter begins counting.  hahaha but Em was all for it and they were off!  Charlie, however, settles nicely somewhere between training and prelim speed.  Which is lovely except that Em's currently competing at pre-entry!  Oops.  However, she balances out his speed with trotting when he gets too strong and in the end it balances out.  Emily gets the determination award as about ten strides out of fence six, Charlie saw the monsters that lived in it.  And he promptly demonstrated that he *can* in-fact, do dressage.  They did a beautiful serpentine and as they approached the jump he collected more and more until his hind legs were way under his body and he was almost piaffing.  Seriously impressive.   Sadly inappropriately timed when they're supposed to be fearlessly flying over obstacles.  hahaha but Em kept on with good ol pony-club style determination, held her line, and convinced him to jump it.  On the first try.  And then there was no more discussion -- the rest of the course was absolutely beautiful.   I was pretty impressed.
Emily and Charlie on XC
Then another break and on to stadium.  All three girls were permitted to continue, which was awesome.  Victoria again went first and they put in a brilliant round.  Nina had one shy at the open door, but Victoria put it to good use and directed her over the next jump on course before she knew what had happened *g*  I was really happy with that round. By far their best yet!
Victoria and Nina in stadium
Next in was Brena riding Bella and their round was excellent.  Under control, straight lines, very accurate.  Brena's riding overall really impressed me today.  Awesome job!
Brena and Bella in stadium
Emily and Charlie finished out our group -- Charlie was slightly spun; I think he was hoping for more XC.  But Em channelled it well and jumped him around clear -- all her hard work is starting to pay off as she's beginning to ride him significantly better.  So cool to watch!
Emily and Charlie in stadium
Now it's not often that I allow my self to play the "if only" game...  If only I hadn't had that stop.  If only I'd been three seconds faster.  Etc etc etc.  Because really, it's over and I didn't, so it's irrelevant.  But in the case of a TE, it's really hard not to do that and so I took a look at Brena's scores.  And if she had jumped that fence (and there's no reason to think Bella would've had any concern about doing so) they would've finished in second!  hahaha not half bad for a first try!

And even more impressively, she who didn't have to play the "if only" game, Emily and Charlie were in sixth after dressage and jumped their way up to fourth!  Which is unfortunate since she very much wanted that pink ribbon >;-P  hahaha but otherwise, woohoo!  And, when added to their double-clear round at Caledon, qualifies them for championships!  Yeah Emily!

So despite some unusual finishes, overall the day was a huge success.  And thanks to the sun being out all day, we even managed to get out of the various parking situations with no drama :)  Huge thanks to Amy for driving the ponies!

Looking forward to the next one!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Selena's first CT

It was hot but mercifully not raining for Selena's first show at Equus CT today.  She and Willow had super-civilized ride times that resulted in us being able to leave at a fully civilized hour :)

Dressage warm-up was great.  Willow was totally relaxed and calm.  Selena was a *little* nervous but focusing that into super-attentive riding.   This lead to a pretty awesome test -- possibly one of the most accurate first tests I've seen anybody do.  Very impressive.  And the grin on Selena's face after the fact...  hahaha well, we've all been there :)

Willow got a break between phases (thanks to supergroom Olivia for taking care of her) while Selena and I walked stadium.  As stadium was currently set for training, it was a *touch* intimidating.  But such is life for an event rider :)   Stadium warmup went really well without too much chaos.  Willow stayed super calm and was jumping everything quietly and confidently.
Selena and Willow in Stadium
Soon it was time to go in.  They did a fabulous job, trotting their course quietly and under control.  And, of course, clear.  Woohoo!
Selena's first XC school
Then the fun part - XC!  Selena was a little bit intimidated at first -- the jumps out there are a lot bigger than they were in stadium and they don't fall down.  But as she learned she could trust Willow to take her from one side to the other safely she started to have some fun with it.  And playing in the water is always good.
Water's tons of fun on a hot day!
And in the end - their awesome dressage and clear show jumping led to a 2nd place finish!  Woohoo!  What a great way to start!
Down the bank
Also want to say a HUGE thanks to Kennedy who babysat Lexi all day -- Lex came along to learn about horse shows and spend time hanging out.  We learned that ponies are definitely evil as are dirt bikes and bunny rabbits.  What those things have in common, I have no idea -- but definitely evil.  hahaha

All photos credit to Olivia :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lexi learns XC with Blyth Tait

*edited - have to go to the barn, but for those who *really* want the story...  Here's the first draft.  Lessons learned etc will be its own post (maybe tonight) cause this is already long!*

XC day of the Blyth Tait clinic was yesterday.  I had to leave early to get back to the barn in time to teach.  By the time I got home from work and uploaded all the photos (cause let's be honest. people care more about photos than blog posts *g*) I was done.  Really done.

BUT thanks to the absolutely amazing Kennedy who got up early to do the barn for me, I got to sleep in!  Woohoo!  So now you're getting a day-time blog post.  I never write during the day. Partially because I write best at night and partially because I'm always *busy* during the day *g*   So we'll see how this goes.  Meeting the vet at the barn this aft, so I have till then to type (not Lexi, but one of my other horses is 3-legged lame and I'm super worried about him...)

Got there Sunday morning with lots of time to feed my pony (which was not so necessary thanks tons to Dani!) and get ready to go.  As I didn't have anybody with me (and realistically, Lexi had a stall and *should* be exhausted so I didn't really need anybody) I begged Sabrina to take photos for me.  hahaha so mini camera tutorial and then go to tack up.  Well I turn around and Vanessa's handing me tack and Sabrina's getting me organized and both Dani and Kitty were there too -- apparently it takes four-five people to get me ready *g*  I put it down to being invited to stay in Arthur's barn -- you get spoiled there :)   Really it was just social hour as nobody else was riding till later, and social hour when comprised of several helpful people gets things done quickly.

Take Lexi out to the arena and all of a sudden she's not so tired...  Spinning in circles, fairly concerned.  Fortunately at just that moment I saw Emily riding Lexi's new best friend (as of yesterday) out to XC.   I called out to her and she very kindly came in the ring to babysit until we were ready.  The spinning came down right away and became more of a pacing -- at which point Kitty magically appeared to help get Lex to pause long enough for me to get on *g*  hahaha clearly need a little more experience before I'll be able to handle my pony entirely on our own.  You wouldn't know she rides alone Every Single Day at home.  Sheesh.

So Lexi glues herself to Mya and we hike our way to the XC course with no major drama.  But once we get there, I asked her to *gasp* go a slightly different direction!  OMG!  hahaha we had a *really* impressive leap in the air and then quite a lovely hand-gallop around the field.  Which didn't actually take us anywhere near Emily and Mya who were walking around like civilized creatures.  But sobeit :)  After our little run which Blyth seemed somewhat bemused by he suggested we not try to stand still and that I just keep her moving around (at a walk preferably) until the others got there.  Right.  
Learning stuff :)
The others arrived and we had a chat -- Lexi and I vulturing the well-behaved horses who were all standing still.   hahaha ah well -- nobody seemed to mind.  (Vulturing - to the uninitiated - is a GRS term for those who pace circles around somebody else...)  Anybody who hadn't arrived with their stirrups shorter than they'd ridden stadium, were asked to shorten them.  With speed, the horse's centre of gravity moves forward -- so too must the rider and shorter stirrups make this easier.  They're also critical for properly absorbing drop fences.  Mine were already cranked up so no worries there -- good thing as I'm not sure we would've paused long enough to fix!

So you'll remember (if my blog post wasn't too incoherent!) - stadium day was all about creating the quality canter.  XC day was all about applying it.  On Sunday Lexi hadn't so much learned about a quality canter as learned about a canter *g*  hahaha but sobeit. So we were to trot around a bit -- mostly to give Lexi a chance to find her brain -- and then canter.
The only picture I have so far *g*  I particularly love the flying mane!
And this actually went really well.  She was super-high, but nowhere near the drama of the Lucinda clinic.  We went forward in the gait I wanted mostly in the direction I wanted :)  And even though our first canter was to the right, she picked up the lead like an old pro :)  Yeah!  And then my photographer told me my camera wasn't working :(  Booo.   Fortunately both Adriana and Kitty had cameras and were happy to document our adventures; unfortunately, I don't have those photos yet!

And then it was time to jump.  Our first task was to trot or canter away from our circle around a mini-trakhener and out over a tiny log that's part of the coffin.  To put this in perspective for those who know my place, I doubt that log's any bigger than the one people sit on in the back field :)   If you chose to trot in, the rule was you had to canter away.  Jumping toward the barn, but with a convenient fence in front of them so they wouldn't be too excited.  Perfect start.  And Lexi's first ever xc fence was beautiful!  YEAH!!!!
Our first XC fence ever!
Our second attempt we were told to canter the approach.  My training with babies on XC has always been similar to Lucinda's teaching -- very slow, very quiet.  But came to learn so go with what I was told and canter gamely on with no questions asked.  Absolutely perfect.  Sweet.

Then we moved on to a "real" xc jump.  There are very few E or smaller jumps on this property but this was one. Totally suitable, but definitely bigger than anything she's jumped with a rider on *g*  Totally inviting little hogsback on level ground.  Perfect.  Get told to canter it as it's a little big to trot.  Ummmm sure, why not? >;-P   Right - well we held our line and we went over it.  I got *launched* -- the photos from that one that I haven't gotten yet will be laughed at and then promptly deleted.  Frig.   Fully expected to do it again, but no, change direction and jump it the other way.   And you know what?  She was pretty much a pro star.  Super stoked at my baby horse.

Here Blyth made a point of reminding people to watch their transitions.  Don't just boot your horse from a halt to a gallop.  Establish a good trot first and then a decent canter transition.  Often the horses get hot on XC because the riders get hot.  If you take your time and give them a chance, they'll respond accordingly.  And with consistent reminders before every start, several horses that had been quite hot settled really nicely.

Then...  *insert jaws theme music here* the tires.  Expected discussion about the scariness factor of tires and how to ride them.  After the barrels at the Lucinda clinic I'd been expecting some serious drama about tires so yesterday on our xc walk I led her up to them to see.  Far less drama than I'd expected (remember the plastic hay bales in the arena?  Couldn't even get her *near* those).   Placed some mints on the jump for her and the world was good.  So today I trotted toward it while the others were still getting organized.  Fairly defensive ride.  And she hesitated -- but totally gave it a solid effort!  I was so proud of her.  Not even any drama!  And since Blyth didn't see it, she got to go again :)  And she was all for it!  No hesitation at all and happily cantering away all proud of herself afterwards.  Woohoo!  Pony likes this game.
What a superstar!
Did another random fence -- one that's slightly more vertical and on an uphill.  We trotted it the first time when Blyth wasn't looking *g*   And then cantered it bravely on the second attempt.  Super good both times!
Second attempt = super confident.
Next was an exercise made out of show jumps, with a vertical on top of the hill then 4-5 strides to a skinny at the bottom of the hill.  Again, the focus was on quality of the canter and maintaining rhythm and balance down the hill.   Equitation discussion about the importance of controlling your upper body -- jumping ahead or throwing your shoulders when you need to land balanced on a downhill doesn't just look ugly, it's very unsafe.   Being the baby group, we got to introduce this one fence at a time, starting with the skinny at the bottom.  Lexi even had permission (more than that, was strongly encouraged) to do it at trot the first time.  Yeah *g*  And she did look at it, but she held her line and popped over it and cantered away.  Next try in canter.  I couldn't believe how well she responded when I asked her to tuck her butt under her and keep it there down the hill.  Amazingly well balanced.  I'm still kinda stunned about that actually -- this exercise was the one that impressed me the most from her response.  Nice and soft in my hands, focused on what she was doing, and in this great collected canter (ummm to put in perspective, still longer than most of the other horse's regular canters, but for her, it was amazing!)  So then the first fence got added in and away we went -- absolutely prostar.  Had a slight serpentine effect the first time, but really not bad at all.  Second try straight and confident.  Woohoo!!!   And all this coming in in canter as well.  Yeah.

The next exercise was the mini trakhener.  I waivered on this one and then opted out.  Part of me is really disappointed and part of me is saying I *finally* made an adult decision.  Being an adult sucks >;-P   You're supposed to finish any training session saying "we could've done more" -- and I absolutely feel we could've done that.  And if it had been an exercise at the *end* of the school instead of the beginning, I think we would've done it.  But at that point I thought we had probably an 80% chance of getting over it.  The problem is, if we'd ended in the other 20% it would've been the kind of drama that makes for great blog posts.  hahaha and at the moment, my horse is tackling everything I ask of her -- I *really* don't want to scare her.  And I know from previous experience that that ditch, while tiny, is deep and houses monsters.   Blyth didn't push one way or the other.  He said he thought she could do it, but as she has so little ditch experience might be better not to.  So we opted out.  

But even opting out was a schooling experience, because to get to the line Blyth wanted them to take, all the other horses were out of Lexi's sight.  I expected all kinds of drama from this -- but I knew the first one would be back in a minute or two so figured I'd just deal with whatever I got...  But no - I don't think Lexi even noticed they left.  She was being sucky with one of the spectators and occasionally munching grass.  And tired.  Did I mention tired?  More cantering in two days than in her entire life.  hahaha  So yeah, standing quietly while the herd left and then came galloping back one at a time -- pretty good schooling.

I am disappointed we didn't jump it though.  Logically I think it was the right choice.  Emotionally, I wanted to do it.  Ah well.

Next was an introduction to corners -- built out of stadium rails.  We were running parallel to the hill and the skinny side of the corner was on the downhill, making it all kinds of inviting.  For Lexi's first go, he didn't make it any narrower, but he put the two wide ends on the ground so the inviting low side drew her away from the inviting runout.   This one had a long canter approach and he wanted us up off the horse's back.  A few people were doing a posting canter -- not acceptable.  To ride xc you have to be fit and balanced enough to stay up off your horse or you make them work far harder than they should.  The other thing he repeated often was "sit up but don't sit down" -- shoulders up and back, but no weight in the saddle.  Use your legs or stick if necessary to create impulsion, don't shove with your seat.  
Lexi's pretty sure she can jump the moon.
He warned me she'd probably break to trot right before the fence to inspect it.  She hesitated briefly but surprising us all, jumped it out of the canter :)  Woohoo!   So then he put the ends up and we went again.  We got to a wickedly long distance but she tried her heart out for me and cleared it to tons of pats.  He used this as an example of a couple things.  First, why the adjustable canter is so important.  He said I rode it properly, but she didn't have the strength or the knowledge to come back when I asked her to.  Second, why you introduce things like this with stadium fences or tiny jumps so that if they miss horribly, they don't get hurt.  She cleared it, but potentially...   And third how important it is to reward your horse and that they trust you. She tried her heart out there -- she didn't have to do that.  And if she'd been scared or something negative had happened in her history, she probably wouldn't have.

Anyways, with Lexi having no idea anything wrong had happened, it was time for our first little mini-course.  Tires, over the drop jump through the trees, then up the bank.  Introduced with discussion about how to ride the drop fence (typical ski-jump type, twice the size on landing as on take-off, but tiny on take-off).  Focus on weight in the irons and irons under your body.  Equitation isn't just to make you look pretty, it's important because it's what's effective.  And also about slipping the reins.  Slipping them - not dropping them.  Just allow the horse to take what they need.

So we *cantered* the tires -- and she took me to them!  Was amazing!  hahhaa but then it kind've all fell apart.  You see, to get to the drop fence, we had to go through a fairly thick treeline...  Sucked way back to the slowest trot and zig-zaged  our way through, and then her eyeballs just about bulged out of her little head when she noticed the drop, but a tap with the stick on takeoff had her going (impressive -- she doesn't usually respond well to the stick, but it was the only option I had at that moment.  I certainly wasn't about to take my leg off to kick!).  Then we had a fairly discombobulated canter but did eventually manage to scramble our way up the bank and canter away.  Slightly less than brilliant, but she did do everything on the first try at least!
Pats for the cantering pony
As for the stick -- in later groups Blyth was actively teaching that technique and recommending people practice it before they ever need it.  The ability to take your hand off the reins at the last second and use the stick behind your leg on takeoff when you feel that last-second hesitation.  Esp at ditches, trakheners, drops into water, etc...

The rest of the group next practiced jumping the grown-up trakhener.  This would've been beyond Lexi even if we had done the baby one, so we sat this one out.  Good practice watching everybody leave her again.  We did head over so we could at least try jumping the bank down, which she didn't beautifully and went for a lovely canter afterwards :)
Emily and Mya giving us a lead into the water
Then it was down to the water -- Lexi was so much braver about this this time.  We took a lead the first trip walking and then trotting through!  Woohoo.  Then she got to trot through on her own -- such a star :)   Next it was canter through and jump after (not out of the water -- a couple strides on dry land).  The jump was big by Lexi standards *g*   We weren't able to maintain the canter in the water, but at least had a solid trot.  She started to go towards the jump but then all the other horses disappeared in front of her (they went around a corner) and she hesitated pretty seriously.  We got over it, but it definitely wasn't our prettiest or most confident jump of the day *sigh*.   Then it was jump in, canter through the water.  Warning here that anybody who chose to get ahead of the motion over the jump would be swimming *g*   I loved the surprised tone "are you going to do this?" he asked.  Ummmm sure, why not?  We've already jumped the fence and been in the water.  "You better sit up and be prepared for a stop."
Making a splash!
No problem.  hahaha my super pony jumped the log like she was an old school master.  Came back to trot for the water, but continued through it without stopping.  Woohoo!  hahaha I was so proud of her.  So with lots of pats, we called it on that.   I was sort of amused though that others trotting through the water was okay, but when others cantered through the water she'd have a mini-meltdown each time.  I parked her a little farther away so she was a 'safe' distance from the scary noises and let her hang out while the rest finished their school.  They added in a jump out and then they were done.   
Not 100% sure, but certainly willing to try!
Emily hacked back with me because I wanted to detour via the baby ditch, and she offered to both babysit and give a lead.  Well I tell ya, Lexi was all for this.  I was just going to walk her over it, but oh no - she focused on the obstacle, picked up a canter, cleared it by a ridiculous amount, and booked it up the hill.  I was all set for a wicked buck but it never happened.   SOOOO happy with my superpony.  Of course the walk back was terribly spooky and we nearly trampled a pedestrian or two, but you know, other than that *g*

I'll be grinning like this for days!
So what I found really interesting for me with the two clinics back to back.  Lucinda's methodology is more what I'm comfortable with.  But Blyth's worked way better for Lexi.  Now to be fair, if we hadn't done Lucinda's clinic first, I think this one would've been a bit much for Lexi's first ever outing.  But since she had at least seen a ditch and a bank before, this worked amazingly well for her.  By the end she was taking me to the fences, super eager and super confident and just overall having a blast.  Woohoo!

And then I got to take more photos :)   For those who are interested, links below.  Feel free to pass on to any and all.  Settings are such so that no FB account is needed to view.  Quality is, umm less than professional at times *g*   I'm trying to learn to work the advanced features of my camera, so rapid-fire, auto-mode, and wide "to be cropped later" zoom are all turned off.  Varying degrees of success. hahaha 

XC - Group 2 and a tiny portion of Group 3: