So yesterday you got the backstory… today you get the consequences.
On Saturday I was up at 6 to feed Henry and continue my quest for finding the farrier. I was one of the first people up and about, and while I didn’t actually find the farrier, I did see that his son’s horse was now in his stall. That meant he had to be there somewhere. I decided to go ahead and braid Henry while we waited for daylight. Judging by all the ground-in poop in his stall, it looked like WildHenry had paced all night, and he was a royal PITA to braid. The idea of a nice pretty braid job went out the door by the time he whacked me in the face with his head for the fourth time, so he just got some big fat braids and I called it good.
By 7 the farrier still hadn’t emerged and I started to get worried. I kept asking around, hoping someone had seen him or knew where he was. By 7:50, an hour before my ride time, I was on the verge of panic. Finally I stumbled across someone who told me where his RV spot was, and I marched over there like a crazy person and knocked on his door, basically begging him to come out and tack my horse’s shoe back on ASAP. He said he’d be out in a few minutes, so I threw my horse at one of the moms (I’m so sorry) to hold for him while I went to get dressed.
Finally we had the shoe back on, we threw some tack on him, tried to knock the dust off, and I swung aboard my wild mustang. And he was LIT. What I really needed was a 15 minute canter and a good 30 minutes of trotting and transitions and lateral work. What I got was 15 minutes of me trying to convince him that I could actually touch him with my leg without him bouncing up and down like a cracked out llama. His sassiness level can always be measured by his tail… the faster is spins, the less fun I’m having. That thing was spinning like a helicopter.
Even that early in the morning it was 80-something degrees and so humid we could both barely breathe. He was dripping, I had sweat streaming into my eyes, and I was sitting on a fire breathing dragon. All I could think was thank god we’re only here to survive, because that’s about all I could expect from this test. It was tense… REALLY tense. I had to ride very very carefully to prevent a blowup, and he seemed to think that the faster he moved his legs, the faster he would get to cross country. It wasn’t particularly attractive. Also I really really hate Training B with a burning passion. Canter lengthenings on a circle are really hard when your horse is built like a QH. Just saying.
I will say, to his credit, he was obedient. He didn’t want to be, and he was angry about it, but he did what I asked him to do. We got through it. That was the most important part. Of course, I forgot to pick up my test sheet (again) so I can’t tell you what the scores or comments were, but they aren’t hard to imagine. If you really want to watch it in it’s entirety, knock yourself out.
The judge gave us a very generous 34.6. It’s a little frustrating because I know that a really good test is lurking just beneath the surface with this horse – he’s been AMAZING at home lately – but given the circumstances of the day, I’m just gonna tuck it away and move on. It could have been a lot worse, all things considered.
Our stadium wasn’t until 3, so he got to have a bath and a graze and go back to his stall to chill for a while. Of course, by the time 3 rolled around it was hotter than the surface of the freaking sun. 95 degrees in September seems excessive.
I let him have a long walk around warmup so we could make sure the little hamster in his brain was actually on it’s wheel. He seemed almost TOO quiet, until I picked up my reins to start trotting, at which point he LEAPED into canter. Ok, so it’s gonna be like that then. Glad I decided to put the Dr Bristol on and not carry a whip. I just let him canter for a bit until I felt him start to actually relax. We jumped a few warmup fences and he felt great, so we just chilled and waited our turn. Y’all know how badly he deals with the heat. No point in pushing him.
The course was a lot of singles, with a really tight turn from 2 to 3 at the beginning. I was a bit disappointed that the jumps looked so SMALL… Henry is much more careful and much easier to ride when he’s a little impressed. Plain and small always equals trouble for us. I need someone to jack the jumps up and put alligators under them, please (for real, I’ll pay cash).
One of my biggest issues in stadium is my tendency to come out of the corner and start pickpickpicking my way to the base, which I knew would be exceptionally easy to do with this course if I let myself be lulled into that. Really I needed to keep the rhythm and use the turns to rebalance us, then allow him to come forward out of the turn. I was determined not to pick.
Which, turns out, even if I had pulled I don’t think anything would have happened, because Henry was still on fire. He actually felt good though, jumping really well through the first part of the course (jumping me out of the tack at fence 5), albeit a bit unbalanced in some of the turns. I really should have puts studs in to showjump on the grass, I had a really hard time keeping that inside hind under him. Lesson learned for next time. Grass should basically always equal studs for this horse.
We were a bit tight jumping out of the second double, a very plain dark brown oxer, and he rolled the rail there. Not a surprise. Then we came around and rolled the next rail too. I just didn’t do a good enough job of getting him balanced back through that turn, and he was too flat coming in. My bad. I do wish they’d left the liverpool under that one for Training, it would have really helped me out!
So while 8 faults looks ugly on paper, I wasn’t disappointed. It was the first T stadium we’ve done where I felt like I actually rode it according to plan, rather than just reacting to whatever happened along the way. Considering this was the first course we’d jumped since the June horse show, I was perfectly ok with it. We weren’t there to win, we were there to put in a decent effort that we can go home and build upon. I think we did that. The polish will come.
The best part of all? We were now done with all the hard stuff… all that was left was XC on Sunday!!!