The great thing about being in the Novice Horse division was getting to run XC in the morning on Sunday, when it wasn’t 9000 degrees. The bad thing about being in the Novice Horse division was having to do dressage and stadium late in the afternoon on Saturday, when it was 9000 degrees. Bobby did his dressage around 11 and his XC around 2… he was 2/3rds of the way done (and in 2nd place in Open BN!) before I even got on for dressage. Grumpy and hot and ready to get it over with doesn’t even begin to describe it.
By the time I got on for dressage it was mid-90’s with 50% humidity. I’m a diehard about wearing a coat even when they’re waived, but I’d been a constant puddle for 8 hours already by that point and just couldn’t bear it. As soon as I got on I knew Henry wasn’t feeling it in the heat either, because he pretty much trudged to the warm-up ring like he was marching to his death. We trotted for a few minutes with my spurs basically embedded in his ribs before I realized I might as well just give up on the warm-up. I could either spend 30 minutes trying to get him forward and likely use up all of his energy before stadium, or I could just let him be and get through dressage with as much energy as possible reserved on tap for later. I chose the latter, because having a great dressage just wasn’t as important as having a great stadium. Not here anyway, where our mission was to finish with a happy confident horse.
Lackluster is a pretty good word to describe it. He was a good boy but he had no energy from behind and kept wanting to drop his head and fall on his forehand. For a 5 minute warm-up, I’m ok with that. Also, why is Novice Test A the longest test ever? God, even I was getting bored. But considering just a couple months ago his test was filled with the word “tense”, it was actually pretty amusing to get this test back and see “lazy” and “needs more energy” the entire way down. Our score of 36.3 (not gonna lie, that was a bit of an ouch) left us in 9th after dressage, but I was just happy to be done with it and ready to get on with the jumping.
I only had a little over an hour between dressage and stadium, so I hosed him off and tied him in front of his fan to cool out as much as possible. After a quick tack change it was back on and down to the warm-up for stadium. Henry walked in, saw the jumps, and immediately went “I’M HERE TO PLAY, BITCHES!”. Totally different horse than I had in dressage warm-up, and in fact I handed my whip to Bobby lest I get completely run away with. We trotted a couple long and low laps, picked up the canter, jumped 3 fences, then went to the shade to wait our turn. He was huffing and puffing quite a bit, having a hard time with the heat, so Bobby kept sponging him with cold water which really seemed to help a lot. After what seemed like a couple of eternities it was finally our turn.
I was really really happy with the round. The rhythm was good, he was brave, he was careful, and it actually felt easy. He got many many pats and many many cookies for his double clear. I can’t wait to see what pictures the photographer got! Other folks were not so lucky in stadium, and we moved up to 7th place.
After Henry was bathed and put away, I was off to meet up with Amanda Merritt of Anchor Equestrian for an XC course walk to get some tips and pointers. She helped me at Greenwood too and I thought she was great, so I had arranged for the same “XC walk and warm-up” with her at Texas Rose as well. She had a few helpful tips and ideas on how to ride some of the more technical elements, which was greatly appreciated, and said she thought we’d be just fine. I thought so too, but it was nice to hear it from someone else who actually knows what they’re doing.
Cherry on top – JUST as we got back from the course walk we walked up to the video trailer (which was playing the Belmont on their big screens) right as the horses were turning for home. I got to stand there and watch a Triple Crown victory amongst a swarm of screaming horse people at a horse show on a video trailer screen. Pretty fantastic end to a great day.
Tomorrow – CROSS COUNTRY!