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Retraining A Racehorse – Moonfire – Cross Country - Part 3
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   28th May 2011   •   7,542 views   •   11 comments
On 4 March 2011, Moony went to his third – and what was to be his second last – cross country practice before his first show.

The course here was very low and unchallenging, but it was a new venue that we had found, so I thought that Bronze and Moony could both benefit from the exposure.

We got lost on the way there, and when we had finally found it, it was already quite late in the afternoon (Hence the terrible quality of the photos). All the same, I unloaded the horses – putting Moony in a little standing stall that was available. He stood so nicely and calmly, just munching placidly on his hay, even though he was in a new place.

Retraining A Racehorse

I started with Bronze – running quickly through his dressage test (Since he and Moony were both scheduled to compete at a dressage competition the following day, also in preparation for our first event of the year), which was unbelievably difficult in cross country stirrup-length, me having been too lazy to change them just for the brief warm-up.

Still, Bronze went nicely, and my instructor walked around to have a look at the course while I went over my tests, which I miraculously seemed to remember at that point.

Once she returned, we took Bronzey over the course. Not practicing first, but going straight out over the whole thing, as if we were at a show. He was lazy and nappy at first, but with a few little taps and some verbal encouragement, Bronze soon picked up his pace and tackled the pathetically easy little course in a good gallop. I took him around twice – deciding to use this as an opportunity to do fitness training as well – and by the end he was very tired, but certainly enjoying himself, and feeling good.

Next it was Moony’s turn. I tacked him up and gave him a short warm-up – running through his tests briefly, but not doing too much, since he was too excited by the prospect of cross country to perform properly, and I didn’t want him developing any bad habits with his dressage competition the following day.

So once I had him loose and supple, and had run through one of my tests, I took Moony out on the cross country course. My aim was to build up his eventer’s gallop – teach him to gallop in a fast pace, but keep a steady rhythm and stay off his forehand so he was ready to jump. Thankfully, little Moony was always a natural at this. All I had to do was half halt a little with my seat, and ride him strongly from my legs to my hands to keep him collected and contained.

Once he was feeling like a fast little spring beneath me, I set out on the course and tried to keep the rhythm. It was Moony’s first time doing a cross country course without jumping each jump as an individual first, and he did spook a couple of times. I kept him going, though, straight and confident, and we managed a lovely, smooth and enjoyable round – keeping our gallop all the way through.

None of the jumps proved any sort of challenge to him, but I did the course a second time anyway – just to build on his fitness, as with Bronze, and make sure he wouldn’t hesitate at any jumps at all.

He was very good, galloping eagerly over the little tyres, pipes and ditches with exuberance.

There were a few sections where I could ride steep uphill and downhill sections by taking a little loop off the track, so I went along those and practiced keeping a canter even when the ground inclined or declined. This is often difficult for a young horse, which is why jumps on hills often prove a problem in cross country. It is something that both horse and rider have to practice to perfect.

I found that I have a tendency to rely on my hands for balance too much when going uphill, and that Moony tends to hesitate when going from a downhill slope onto flat ground, so I worked on both these problems

I stabilized my lower leg to get my hands looser and softer and keep my balance in my seat, then rode Moony up and down the hills again. He was certainly more forward and eager uphill now that I was riding properly, but still hesitating on the downhill. So I set my weight back, kept a gentle contact on his mouth to balance him, and coaxed him forward as he reached the bottom so he wouldn’t hesitate and lose his impulsion for the next uphill.

After a few tries, we had this skill pretty much perfected, and Moony was having lots of fun.

Pleased with our work, I walked him back – then untacked him and lead him around for a while to cool him off, since it was getting late and cold, and I couldn’t have him standing wet in the box and catching a chill.

He got his breath back and dried off very quickly, leaving me feeling positive about his fitness, and I was fully confident that both horses would be well ready for their first event of the year!
Inactive Member  
well done! moony is looking great and he sounds brilliant to ride! Good luck on the dressage show!
  May 28, 2011  •  5,637 views
 
T E M P E S T  
Good luck at the dressage show!
  May 28, 2011  •  5,841 views
 
Dreamer100  
You and him and your other horses, all your horses are doing very well. I will love to hear about the show!
  May 30, 2011  •  5,622 views
 
Aslans Roar  
wow, nice horse!!
  May 31, 2011  •  5,593 views
 
Aslans Roar  
where did u get'em? or was the horse born with u?
  May 31, 2011  •  5,593 views
 
Simplicity  
well done! i love reading these~ keep writing!!
  May 31, 2011  •  5,592 views
 
Seven Sins  
great article lovely pics
  May 31, 2011  •  5,614 views
 
Prarie Rose  
Great job! You've taken Moony a long way. :D
  Jun 3, 2011  •  5,612 views
 
My Paper Heart  
Good luck!
  Jun 3, 2011  •  5,593 views
 
Isadorable  
Awesome! Mooney looks great!
  Jun 17, 2011  •  5,630 views
 
FreeRein  
i lovee that horse
  Jun 19, 2011  •  5,592 views
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