Wow, this sounds like a blast. Probably the only way I’m going to get around anything bigger than a Beginner Novice course these days (why is that 30 years after my first event, I am thinking smaller rather than larger?)
I wish that I lived a bit closer to Tryon.
Imagine heading out on a four-star cross-country course with a horse you’ve only ridden for about 20 minutes. In the warm-up, you get the chance to practice his piaffe and passage, do some medium and collected trot, jump a few show jumping fences, and then you get a lead into the start box.
That was my life a few weeks ago when I got an unexpected catch ride on a big black horse named Dante Maximus. So I jammed my heels down, gave this willing horse a kick in exactly the middle of his belly, and we were off. A few times I pulled on the reins too hard, and he came to a dead halt. Another time we did hit a tree—oops, but he was fine. We jumped a two-stride combination from a walk, and I nearly got popped out of the tack jumping down the bank. Still, we made it through the finish flags in one piece!
OK. A (probably obvious) caveat. This was a fake horse—an equine simulator. And I was only “riding him” around a simulated “cross-country course.” Had he been a real horse, well, for starters, none of that would have happened or been recommended, or ahem, even been allowed, but also I probably wouldn’t have been doing any piaffe and passage in the warm-up ring unless it was by accident.
Heading out on course, all smiles, unaware that we were about to hit some trees. Photo by Meg Banks for TIEC
Despite the fact that Dante’s not a real horse, there were parts of the experience that felt pretty real. Waiting for my simulator trainer, Barbro Ask-Upmark, to queue up the “advanced” cross-country program, I did get a little nervous.
To read the rest click on this link: “Bring Your Helmet”: My Ride On Dante Maximus | The Chronicle of the Horse