That post cross country buzz, the one that makes you feel you could conquer the world is just the most incredible feeling. Nothing in the world is better. I always joke I don't do drugs because I have cross country and that is absolutely better than anything else!
Today we did our first competitive rounds of cross country since November last year. We were all geared up and ready to start the season back in March but then the world changed and the rest is history! Luckily for us WA has eliminated Covid and so event organisers scrambled to get a handful of dates together one of which was today, a fundraising cross country day that meant we could do two rounds around a proper course. Even better we had an international course designer who came for another event back in March and hasn't been able to get home yet.
Anyway, I decided to enter 2 rounds at 80. I could have done a 65 and an 80 but thought that 65 would be too easy, and 2 rounds would allow me to smooth anything out should we need to.
I was nervous all week leading up to the event, really nervous! I had several dreams about it, and today I was so nervous. I didn't know how Henry would go in the warm up, what he would think of the jumps, how slippery the course would be. So many questions! But i just had to trust the training and when in doubt kick on!
We walked the course on Saturday arvo and it didn't pose too many major issues. There were a few things I wasn't sure about my plan was simple, sit up and ride! We had done the work and now it was time to prove it.
This morning I was the most nervous I ever remember being. It was horrible! I wasn't even sure what I was nervous about really. I gave myself a pep talk and then as i helped a friend warm up I said all the words I needed to hear to her and felt miles better. Then I got Hen ready, hopped on and got on with it.
Henry was very nervous in the warm up. He Tried so hard to stay with me but it was really hard for him. I tried really hard to sit up and ride forwards too, and we muddled through. Once I got the right rein under control he settled, we jumped a handful of fences and headed to the start box.
He is pretty tense about the box, so I kept him walking, got counted down and we were off. Trotting out he picked up a beautiful forward canter and jumped 1 a bit deep but at that point I knew we would be just fine. 1 & 2 were both roll tops that were nice and simple, then 3 was a reg and white pheasant feeder. He jumped that without problems then we came to 4, a brush oxer. He checked in with me at that one so I closed my leg and over he went. At this point I was telling him how wonderful he was and I was nearly crying because of how proud he was. I am such a sap!
5Ab was the first combination on course, a roll top through a drainage ditch and out over a brush. I kept my leg on and while he drifted a bit at B, he jumped though confidently. 6 & 7 were easy roll top type things and then 8 was a decent sized table. I let him flow and he jumped out of stride though he got a bit deep again. 9ABC was the water, jumping a log before the water, then into the water before jumping a solid box on the other side. He was confident through the line, though came back to trot for a few strides at the water before cantering out.
10 was a log, 11 another roll top and 12AB was the final combination, a produce stand to a roll top. He checked in with me again at the produce stand so I kicked him on and he bossed it. 13 was a little slat jump, 14 was a maximum height fence he soared over then 15 was the last fence, which was very bright and we were home safe!
The whole course felt so easy! He was jumping beautifully and he felt incredible. He wasn't super adjustable, but he stayed in a nice rhythm and flowed along quite well. I was pretty sure we had been to fast to place but wasn't worried.
Our second round was at 80 again and I just planned on neatening things up a bit and working on him being more adjustable. He was much calmer int he warm up, came out of the start box well and cruised around, with even more confidence. Nothing worried him at all in our second round, he was adjustable and when the ground was very boggy and wet let me place him at the fence to the left or right where the ground was better. We came in too quick again, but they had slowed the speeds down since the ground was so wet so we were probably pretty close to the speed we would normally have gone.
He strutted off the course like he owned the place and I still can't wipe the smile off my face!
Overall it was such a brilliant day. We both feel so much more confident for it, and I feel ready to tackle our first event of the season in 2 weeks. Bring it on!