Despite a fairly ominous looking forecast, we didn’t get rained out this time! It was ridiculously humid Sunday morning before the wind picked up though. I was sweating balls just from getting dressed and had sweat dripping into my eyes in dressage warmup. Ah, February in Texas.
I got on for dressage and had surprisingly little horse. Like… I was kicking him. Henry! Kicking! I actually regretted not putting my spurs on. But he warmed up really well and came into a nice connection pretty quickly, with good trot work both ways, some lengthenings, and a little lateral work. We did a few medium walk to free walk to medium again, trying to prevent that anticipation he sometimes gets, then just chilled til it was our turn. He was being so good I didn’t even want to canter, lest I ruin whatever magical unicorn juju we had going on.
And what do you know, he went in the ring and was actually quite rideable, obedient, and kept a steady connection. Pretty much everything was better than last month’s test. It actually took all the leg strength I had to keep him cantering. What horse is this? I have no idea. But he scored a 30.5, which would have put us in second if we weren’t going HC. Whaaaaaaaat??? The judge even said he was “obedient”. Pretty sure that’s a first.
After dressage I had less than half an hour until stadium so I quickly changed tack, put my spurs on, grabbed my whip (because remember I thought I had no horse… HAHAHAHA spoiler alert), and trotted back down to warmup with just a few minutes to spare. As soon as we got in there Henry leapt into a canter and was SUPER AMPED. We jumped each warmup fence once then headed up to the ring, just in time to go in.
Aaaaand I was sitting on a keg of dynamite. As soon as the whistle blew it was high ho silver and Henry was off and running. Like, literally, he dragged me to the first 3 fences. I regretted the spurs/whip and instead wished I had brought my Dr Bristol. Someone was very cocky. We got so close to the base of 3 that he pulled the rail there, but that was finally enough to make him think that perhaps he should take my opinion into consideration. The rest of the course was still a bit quick, but he listened. Mostly. I think with the SI injections I got my badass horse back but kinda lost my brakes. Back to the Dr. Bristol next time for Mr. Sassypants.
Then we had 4 hours til XC.
We had talked to the TD beforehand and explained Henry’s current issue with the Irish bank. Since I was already running HC, she gave me permission to skip it if I wanted to (yay schooling shows!). I figured I’d decide when we got to it.
Henry didn’t realize it was XC time until a horse zipped past him in warmup. Then he was suddenly quite awake and raring to go. I had opted to take off my spurs, lest we end up somewhere in Timbuktu, but he was definitely feeling forward as we hopped over a few warmup jumps. He marched over to the startbox, occupied himself with licking the box while they counted us down (it wouldn’t be Henry if he wasn’t doing something totally weird, right?), and then we were off and running.
I don’t have helmet cam footage because I lost my charger cable. Just add that to the comedy of errors already accumulated from yesterday’s post.
We popped easily over 1 and 2, then he really clicked into gear and hunted down the bank combo – the train car to the double up bank then bending 4 strides to a skinny on top of the hill. I gave him a big “good boy!” and a pat, and he dug in galloping again.
We flew over the skinny rolltop at 6, jumped the brush fence at 7, then he saw the Irish bank and I immediately felt him hesitate. Maaaaybe I could have booted him off it if I really wanted to push it, but he’d been rolling along so well up to then that I didn’t see the point in ruining what we had going. We already know he needs to school that question more, so why possibly create an issue for no reason? I let the jump judge know I was skipping it and we kept going.
There was a long gallop through the woods (which was half Henry spooking at the bushes and half him being SO HAPPY to be galloping. I was laughing.) then we came out of the woods, he spotted the water, and he was positively jubilant. He really loves water.
After that was the huge ramp that used to freak me out so much, which we easily jumped out of stride. Take that, stupid giant ramp that used to make me crap myself! Then through the crater at the time warp, more galloping (and spooking) through the woods to the angled feeders. He was totally lock and load at both. It was like as soon as he saw the jumps he went “OMG I FOUND IT!!!” and he was On It. All I did was get him on the right line and hang on. If horses could smile, he’d have been ear to ear.
Then we weaved around some trees to the corner, which we’ve never jumped before but have heard everyone talk about how it just doesn’t jump well. Henry spotted it and took me straight to it, no problem. I don’t think I could have missed it if I tried. After that it was just one more gallop stretch, over the last brush fence, and through the finish!
Yeah, we skipped the Irish bank (which IMO is a really hard question for the level on a “move up” course… alas no one asked me…), but I don’t really care. Everything else was total clockwork, he ate it up, and nothing looked big. We’ve jumped off the Irish bank before, and we’ll do it again… just… not until Henry really understands how to do it properly. Plus, even though I went watchless we came in 10 seconds under optimum, so our pace was right on. Henry pranced back to the barn and cooled down quickly.
I needed a confidence booster to feel like we belong at this level, and that’s what we got. It was our first XC run since Coco last JULY, and it was so freaking fun to be back out there again. I was thrilled with his dressage, fine with stadium (ok I need more whoa but the jumps looked small, so I’ll take that), and super happy with XC.
Henry is fit, he’s happy, he’s sound, and he’s jumping better than ever. What more could you ask for? WE DIDN’T DIE!!!
Buuuut my truck’s trailer lights DID die. They shorted somehow, and we were kinda stranded. Trainer hauled Henry (in my trailer) back to her barn since she’s near the show venue, and now Henry is “vacationing” there until my truck can have the wiring fixed (happening today, hopefully). Sigh. I broke the tent and the truck and managed to lose my helmet cam charger all in one weekend. Never a dull moment.