After walking the course on Saturday I knew what we were in for and I was really excited. None of the jumps worried me but I wasn't sure how he would handle the 2 combinations on the course as neither of them were super straight forward for a green horse. I knew the training was there though and I just had to ride him forward and be present.
I hadn't worn my watch so had no idea of the time. it had felt so fast though, Henry had flown around. I was so proud of how he handled everything, feeling more confident as we went around, and only getting wiggly twice. He was perfectly rideable but stronger than normal. In the end we were too slow! We picked up 10 time penalties which saw us slide down the placings to 11th. Honestly though? I didn't care one iota. The whole weekend was a huge success and all the elements are there.
We had an easy start with my ride time being 12.02 so I let the boys have time in the paddock to relax and be themselves for a few hours. We headed back to the event just after 10 and pulled in at 11.
I had off and on nerves all morning, but nothing more than a few butterflies. More than anything I was excited! Henry was chilled out while I was tacking up and went to sleep while we waited to be called into the warm up arena. They were running about 20 minutes behind so I dismounted while we waited.
When they restarted the course and I was called in to warm up, Henry was ON. All the other horses cantering about, plus those who were show jumping proved to be a very big atmosphere and all he wanted to do was canter, which is exactly what we did! After a lap I felt his relax and soften, but he was still pretty adrenalised about everything.
He walked quietly down tot he second warm up next to the XC when it was our turn but freaked out a bit when the first horse went flying past on XC. Right then I wasn't sure how we were going to make it around the course because Henry had so much adrenaline pumping I wasn't sure if I should send him forward or have him stand and try to relax. I did manage to wrangle him over a couple of warm up jumps and headed to the start box at our time.
The starter was lovely and I was not at all nervous, though appreciated my friend Emily standing with us. We walked in and out of the box while we were counted down... 20 seconds, 10 seconds, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 go, good luck!
We were off! Henry boldly cantered forward and locked onto the first fence which he jumped out of stride leaving me behind a little bit, and then we headed straight to jump two in the smae fashion. He was strong but listening. We cantered through the bush to jump 3, a chevron and I half halted through the turn to sit him up and had my leg on because it had caused a few issues through the day. Henry didn't look twice and we cleared it and galloped on to jump 4.
Jump 4 was a log kind in the middle of no where and it was fairly skinny. He thought really hard about running out but I had a battle with him and he jumped it first go. It was messy but we made it. 5 was fine and the 6 was the bank out of the water. He hesitated at the water, coming down to a trot and jumped the bank out with plenty of air before cantering to 7A, a new bank up. He wiggled into the bank but I was onto it, and he jumped up and went straight over 7B, a very skinny roll top.
8 Was a hay bale jump which he flew over and we ket powering up the hill to another log at 9. 10AB was the second combination on course and the one I was worried about the most: a bank then a turning line to a brush ski jump. The elements on their own would be fine but I wasn't sure how we would go putting them together. Henry came back to me when I half halted and compressed his canter, hopping up the bank and turning easily to jump off the ski jump. It was messy, but we got it done.
We over took a rider on our way to 11 a bench which I don't think he looked at and then turned to the chevrons at 12 which again he flew over. 13AB was the bank complex and I made sure i was in control of his shoulders as we came in. He had a bit of a look at the ditch but I was ready and he flew over. We were two jumps from home and it felt so fast!
Jump 14 was a bright blue upright that we galloped over and then it was over the last, a fruit box and home safe! That was it, first event in the books.
|Over the last!|
We NAILED the dressage. 26.6 penalties is incredible and we were 1.3 penalties behind the winning horse, a seasoned pair who have won every event this season. That test wasn't a fluke either, it was the same work he's been producing at home, maybe a little bit less because of the environment.
The show jumping rail was just a mistake that will be easy to fix too. I know what I need to improve on and will be doing my homework to get us there. XC was amazing, he is so green in this area but we proved the training is there and we can add speed as his confidence grows. In some way finishing without a ribbon is for the best as now I won't put pressure on myself to stay up there in the placings, instead I will focus on improving what needs work.
So, Henry's first event is in the books and we are already looking forward to the next one!