Hot, dusty and happy
Sunday dawned clear and cold, but the sun was hot early. Cross country was first thing in the morning at 8.30 which was a relief since it was expected to get hot again and I was pleased not to be riding in the heat of the day. Henry was full of beans when we warmed up, He knew something was up.
I put Henry to work on some circles to get him focussed and relaxed. We popped a few warm up jumps and he felt great although quite tense. We attempted to walk while we waited to be called, but walk wasn’t in Henrys vocabulary so I just kept his brain busy. He was so much less adrenalised than at Gidge so I knew I was winning already.
Right before I went in the start bow I made sure I had breaks and then we headed over to be counted down. As Henry watch the horse before us go he got really nervous but he walked in and out of the box. When we were counted down he trotted out politely and picked up canter as we headed to our first fence. He locked on and popped the little log, then continued on to 2, a zig zag log. He was dead straight over it and we turned to a log with a drop landing in the shadows. He hesitated slightly but stayed on my line to jump nicely then we cantered though the creek crossing and I opened him up in a gallop to fence 4.
4 was a faux trakhaner which he jumped out of stride and we kept galloping to 5, a skinny upright natural rail. He spooked at something on the way but when I set him up for the fence he listened and popped it without hesitating. 6 was a sizeable bank, a new jump in the course. He was game coming until a stride out and he slammed on the breaks. I was surprised because I had my leg on and thought we were going, but reacted quickly and as soon at I told him to go he trotted the last stride and we were up and away. 7 was a bench, 8 a tyre jump and 9 a house, all easy peasy.
We had another big gallop to 10, I really let him open up and I think he enjoyed himself. 10 was the troll bridge I was worried about, and I brought him back, sat him up and tapped him with my crop. He jumped the crap out of it, and we kept cruising. He spooked a bit coming into 11 a chevron but jumped when I told him too. 12 was a log before the water at 13, which caught him out a bit, but he trotted through without an issue and cantered right over a big black pipe for 14. 15AB was the only combination on course, B was quite a skinny upright that he locked onto and jumped perfectly.
The ditch was next and I don’t think he even noticed it which was a relief, 17 was a little wall and then we galloped on to the last fence that he jumped out of stride and we were home!
Sadly our brief stop at the bank was counted as a refusal so we picked up 24 penalties on cross country with a little bit of time too. I was thrilled with how well Henry handled the course though, he felt so confident, like he really knew what we were doing out there. Everything was so easy and I really think he’d have liked some bigger jumps.
I was peeved for letting us have a stop though, especially since he is so confident about banks, but I guess it’s a green horse thing and next time I will know to be really positive into a bank. On the bright side that bank caused so many issues in my grade, several people even fell off at it so it wasn’t just me. Bec also said that it was just him needing a second look at the change in could and texture and next time he will go first time. I just hate getting stops!
I ice booted Henry because the ground was so hard and he had a huge drink before settling in his yard for the afternoon. He was tired and happy to have some time to relax. I kept checking the scores, waiting for them to finalise. I had been sitting in 7th going into cross country and knew I had a good chance of moving up if the course caused issues. Finally they were posted and I was 6th! I had to check about a million times to make sure I wasn’t misreading it, I was so proud of my boy. Our class was very competitive, filled with pro riders on their young horses, and we still managed to place even with our stop!
Overall Henry felt so much more confident and confirmed at this event. The tense dressage should resolve itself soon enough and he was brilliant in both jumping phases. I don’t think he cares much for 65, and I am seriously contemplating upgrading him soon, I just have to be confident I can be confident coming into those bigger jumps. I have a feeling that we will iron out a few more things at the next event, and Henry will continue to grow in confidence. I just love him, he tries so hard and he is a joy to ride.
Our prize for 6th was a nice shiny ribbon and a yummy bag of horse muesli that the boys are going to love as a treat.
Rosie was a super star for her first event, she loved walking xc, and scabbing food off people. She made loads of new friends and loved all the fuss. She has her own fan club now too. She camped well and I was so proud of how she handled it. What a good puppy!