The haul up to Greenwood on Friday took us 4 hours, and the borrowed truck (thanks Erin!) and trailer made the drive like champions. We unloaded, found our stall in the very cozy tent stabling, unhooked the trailer, and then tacked up Henry to go explore the property.
He was a little tense and neighed a couple times, but settled ok. I mainly did lateral work and down transitions to loosen him up and keep his brain quiet… I didn’t see a point in picking on him too much since the goal was to try to just keep him relaxed. I mainly stuck to the SJ warmup area since it was empty, then walked over to the dressage warmup (the upper level horses did dressage on Friday so it was bustling) and he bug-eye stared at the dressage arenas for a while. This was his third event ever, and the first time he’s ever shown at a place where he had never been before.
He got a bath and some hay, then I set off to walk XC. My friend Amy gave me the most amazing circus pony cup, which is now my new official Course Walk Pimp Cup. Since it’s obligatory to walk the course with a cider in hand, you might as well do it in amazing style.
Side note: the Pimp Cup still needs a name, if anyone out there is feeling creative. She’s awfully pretty to just be called Pimp Cup.
Once I found the XC start box (I’ve never been to this facility before, and it’s huuuuuuge) and set off on my course, I felt pretty good about it in the beginning. The first half of it was in the woods, and the jumps were all pretty simple and little. The first one of any substance was 6, a log oxer, but I knew it would ride just fine as long as we kept coming forward to it.
There was a little mini Trakehner at 8 that I thought he might look at, but he’s jumped a bigger one before with no issue so I figured – same deal – just keep coming forward and it’d be fine.
The second half of the course is what really made it a beefy BN. After the Trakehner we popped out at the top of a hill in a big field, which was pretty visually impressive. We had to make a hard right down the hill to the water, which was just asking for a runout, then a couple strides out of the water over a rolltop. Henry is good about water but still, this was going to require an aggressive ride because it was just so visually imposing as we came down to it.
There were a few more simple fences after that, then a long gallop up a big hill and over a log, after which there was a sharp left and a fairly short approach to the dreaded banks. 13 was a down bank, about 2′, then 3 bending strides to 14, an up bank. That’s a pretty technical question for BN. It’s a REALLY technical question for a BN horse with a history of hating down banks. This is where I started to pee myself a little.
Then it was down the big hill to a simple hanging log… but 4 bending strides after the log was another down bank. You gotta be kidding me right? Two down banks on BN, both of which are close enough to another jump to make it a technical question as well. Not only that, it went from light to dark and after the down bank was a fairly short approach to a fence that had trees around it in such a way to make it pretty good test of steering (I called it The Decapitator). Continue peeing on oneself and wonder why the hell I came to this mini Rolex BN course.
After that it was a little bit of a gallop to the last, a cute little fence decorated with buckets and plastic shovels and flamingos.
I pretty much chugged the rest of my cider at this point out of stress, walked the course again, peed myself over the down banks some more, then wandered around and looked at some of the 2* fences to make myself feel better.
Then I wandered back and walked the stadium course, which at first I thought was set to BN height but figured out it was actually set to Novice. So at least THAT would look simple and tiny.
The course looked nicely designed and flowed well. It was in the front field right next to the road so I thought that might be a little bit of an issue but stadium is our easiest phase so I just walked it once, made a plan, and put it in the back of my mind so I could continue stressing about the down banks instead.
After a graze and some dinner I said goodnight to Henry, told him to put on his Big Boy Pants for the weekend, then was off to stuff my face and eat my feelings.
Tomorrow – dressage and stadium…