Originally this show was supposed to be on the 13th, but we got massive amounts of rain and they had to reschedule. I was debating scratching either this one or the combined test on Saturday, but finally decided it could actually be good for us to compete two days in a row. Miles and all that.
This show was a derby – we had dressage first, then about an hour break until a mixed round of XC and stadium. There were 12 XC fences and then once you landed from the last XC fence you just kept going and jumped 7 stadium fences. I thought this could definitely be a challenge for us, considering that XC Henry isn’t exactly ideal for stadium. I also entered Training, and while it was soft, there were still a few max height fences and some combos. I was just hoping for a clear XC and maaaaybe a low ribbon. This show has badass prizes, and I wanted a badass prize.
Dressage was fine. I got on and let him canter a few laps until he relaxed, and basically warmed him up the same way as Saturday. It was really cold but he felt good… calm, in my hand, listening. If anything maybe a little too quiet, which I’m totally ok with. Considering we spent all of last year not cantering in dressage warm-up because his brain fell out afterward, I’m cool with too-quiet-after-cantering. He was a little more tense in the test itself, but overall ok (another “not brilliant, but not awful” test) and good enough for a 36.1 and 4th place after dressage.
After a quick course walk and tack change, back out to warm-up we went. We trotting and cantered a few laps, then I opened up and let him gallop a bit (Training speed feels really fast to my micro-managing self so I needed to get myself thinking forward), cantered three fences, then walked up to the start. Hopefully this is the last helmet cam video using the GoPro, since the new one should be here this week. I was having a hard time getting it to stay put, soooo sorry in advance for all the jostling. The damn screw thingy (technical term) doesn’t stay tight anymore.
I came out of the box a little aggressive, wanting to make time, and Henry was totally game on. My goal was to NOT pull on him or try to micromanage (my favorite hobbies), and he pretty much took me to everything without a second thought. Big white skinny ramp, ditch combo, bank combo, water… Henny got dis! Henny got dis a little too much at fence 9 where we almost died. Ok we didn’t almost die but I almost crapped myself. Note to self: ride better. Note to Henry: I’m still in charge. In general I tried to let him just flow forward, tried to stay out of his way, and we saved ground wherever we could.
I jumped the last XC fence in more of a hand gallop, since we literally landed and cantered straight ahead to jump 1 of stadium. He came back pretty politely and jumped the first three fences really well (and I found the base!), then wised up to what we were doing and tapped a couple (coincidence that it was the two fences I had a teeny bit of a gap to? Neh…).
His minimalistic efforts in stadium give me heart palpitations, but they stayed up and we finished double clear. We made time on XC too, so we ended on our 36.1, moving up from 4th to first!
The prizes did not disappoint, it was like mini-AEC. Two gift certificates, an engraved plate, an embroidered belt, a saddle pad, a hat, and a set of Equiflexsleeves. And we won the TIP award for Training (highest placed TB) which got us another ribbon and a Jockey Club backpack. I’ve been tying to win a TIP award with Henry for two years, so I was pretty excited about that!
Overall I’m pretty happy with how Henry handled everything. He was brave and happy, and is getting to be a total pro at hauling and standing tied at the trailer. It wasn’t mistake-free… it wasn’t one of those shows where I walked away feeling like I’d done a particularly great job (I could write another whole post about that), but in the interest of being less self-critical I’ll just say we dipped our toes into the shallow end of Training and didn’t die. We have a lot more work to do before we’re ready for “real” Training, but it’s good to feel like I’m sitting on a confident horse that likes his job and seems eager for more.
Now we go back to plugging away at lessons, then a recognized Novice in Louisiana next month, then more lessons. Keeping our sights on Coconino…