Trains, Games and Recreational Spooking: XC Edition

You know those XC outings where the sun is shining, your horse is cooperative, the jumps are great and you leave with a huge smile on your face?

Yeah, me neither.

You know of those XC outings where your horse is a spastic turd who makes you want to vomit and kick him in the face at the same time?


So we tacked up at Meadowcreek early this morning and started walking out to the xc field to hop on. I immediately recognized Ollie was not going to be the Dude version of himself. He was channeling that inner TB that’s hiding (seriously, it’s in there genetically. I promise). Wide eyes, looking side to side. Huffing. Not being Chill Ollie.

Hey Mom.


You know how I’ve been really good lately?

Yeah. Wait….

OMG I LIED. HAHAHA. I’m gonna play games today. Won’t that be fun?

No, Ollie, it won’t. Just be good.

You know, I don’t think that’s going to work for me. I might have to call my union rep again.

Right as we were about to hop on, the train went by. Yes, for those who don’t know, there is a giant-ass train that runs along the XC field about every hour-ish or so. All the horses were pretty chill with it – just some stares. Ollie must have done a mental fist bump with it, as he is a very special freight train himself. He basically just stood there and looked at one of the jumps in front of him and said, “Oh look, wood! Let’s go chew it.”

We hopped on, and after we started trotting in the warmup area, he was doing his best to try to imitate a slightly extended rushy Paso Fino. When we finally went to go over a tiny crossrail, he was barreling for it like it was freaking Rolex. And when I tried to half halt, he blew through it and instead curled his neck and pulled his head down.

Mom, blame it all on my roots (Har, I even showed up in boots! Hey, can we play some Garth up in here?). I’m gonna imitate a plowhorse now. I really feel like working on my acting craft today.

Paso Fino Plowhorse, the latest designer breed of horse.

I tried kicking. Yanking. Halting. Nothing was getting his freaking head up, let alone getting the rushing to stop. So I did what any weenie would do and just gave up in the warmup, and we went into the XC field.

Watch my jaw stiffen and my neck lock all at once!

Tried to go to the first tiny log, and he pulled Extended Paso Fino Plowhorse Act again. Brought him to a halt and said, OK, you can WALK THIS ONE. I mean, really, it was tiny. So he stepped over it with the front legs.

And then he did this.

Oh, let me just jump with my back end.

Let me go ahead and zoom in on my faces for ya. They’re awesome.

Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. I have no idea how people keep their hands off me.

And we did it over and over at a trot, and he kept being stupid rushy idiot. And then plowing afterwards, giving me the finger and cantering away without any input from me. I had a very difficult time stopping, slowing or turning him. I was totally at the Mercy of the Plowhorse. That sounds like a church or something, doesn’t it? Might as well have been, the number of “Oh Gods” I exclaimed today (There were also a lot of “oh shits,” but let’s not bother God with those. Peace be with you. And shit.).

So we kinda did our own thing away from the group, trying to work on control. SO WHAT I WANTED TO DO TODAY, LEMME TELL YOU.

Everyone else started to go into the next field area about 50 yards away, so I decided to try to take Stupid Little Log one more time to see if we could do it nicely. I made two mistakes. Any guesses?

1.) I jumped toward the group, not away from it.

2.) I did not have a tight enough grip on the reins.

So we landed, he pulled my reins down, curled under and barreled toward the group. I had zero control, and it was, quite frankly, terrifying. I had to give a frantic head’s up while everyone scratched their heads.

And why were they were scratching their heads? Because it looked like this:

Ollie is the king of the slow-mo runaway. To anyone watching, he looks like he’s going at a nice appropriate XC canter. But what they don’t know is that he has stuck his fingers in his ears and is LA-LA-LA-ing me and giving me no input into direction or pace. Also, his usual canter is Molasses City. His runaway canter brings him up to Normal Horse Pace.

So I got him to halt after we were just barely past the group again. He was all, “Oh you wanted me to halt? Well why didn’t you just say so! Geez.”

I was so ready to give up after that. I walked around while everyone else jumped stuff, but then got convinced to do the ditch. Wouldn’t ya know it, Ollie had lost his will to fight a bit at that point.


We walked back and played through the water again – Ollie’s favorite. I trotted into it, and he decided to canter out and make an out bank out of, well, nothing.

He’s apparently a big Air Supply fan.

Oh, did I mention the train came back through? Since they were all good the first time, we just halted while it went past. Ollie went to sleep. A couple minutes into the passing, he did a prairie dog impersonation, yanking his head up really quick and then jumping sideways and spooking.


I am certain that it was recreational spooking just to do it – not that he was scared or startled. Stupid Dippy McFattypants.

So that was our day, in a not-so-succinct nutshull (what, you want me to talk less? Get in line). When we got back to the stall, he was certain he deserved treats. He did not get them.

Mom, you still love me, right?

So now we have some work to do. Change up his bits, work on obedience and OH MY GOD, LISTEN TO ME. He was a turd today, but we’ll get it turned around. Time to break out the big balls!


Big thanks to Paige and Rachel for getting me these awesome photos!