Having had nothing but green horse after green horse after green horse for, basically, ever, I am really enjoying this phase that Henry’s in. He’s 11 now, which sounds so mature, and he’s now entering his 4th year of eventing. He’s starting to actually feel like a horse that knows how all this stuff works. It’s a bit foreign to me to have a horse like this, but it’s also quite nice.
We went to Texas Rose this past weekend to school XC one more time before season starts. I arrived on Friday night, got Henry settled into his stall, set up my tent, and we both went to bed. Northeast Texas had record amounts of rain up there (I say “up there” because it’s literally 4 hours north of me) in February, but somehow the footing was pretty fantastic. The weather was perfect on Saturday too: sunny and highs in the 60’s. Couldn’t ask for much more than that.
Our group headed out around 8:45 and Henry immediately knew what was up. He’s been to Texas Rose 3 times before, so I think he’s figured out where everything is at the facility. As soon as we turned toward the road to the XC course, his walk doubled in speed and pep and soon we left the rest of the group behind. He was LIT, and super excited to be out.
Despite showing at TR a few times (once at BN, once at N, once at T) we’ve never actually schooled there before. The course has such a wide variety of fences though – two waters, several ditch questions, good use of terrain, etc. It’s a nice mix, so it’s great for schooling. We started warming up, which was mostly me convincing Henry that yes, we did indeed have to TROT before he could canter. If you’re into trantering, we’re pro-level. He wasn’t spooky or stupid, just really really really pumped to be there. It was a good feeling. Like a horse who knew what was coming and couldn’t wait to get down to business.
We hopped over some warmup fences to start and he just felt fantastic pretty much right from the beginning. He was focused, he was forward, he was balanced, and everything came up easily. Then we headed over to one of the waters, jumping some Training and Prelim fences. Again he was super on the first trip through, so we opted to save his legs and let everyone else school it more. That first water was definitely deeper than normal because of all the rain… we got soaked.
Then we strung together a few little fences (N and T) out in the open to make sure we still had a good functioning half-halt. I think he was slightly offended to be jumping those, but he obliged. After that it was over to the trakehners, where I tried to kill us both at the Prelim one by running him at nothing, and he proved his ability (yet again) to epically save my ass. We jumped the T one a few times to re-establish the fact that sometimes I can manage to NOT ride like an idiot. Good pony.
Then it was over to the other water, where we jumped the T hanging log in, looped around to the P log in, and then looped around again to the skinny in the water (which didn’t get captured on video, sadly, but you can see the jump – the little red house looking thing). It was Henry’s first time ever jumping a fence in the water, much less having said fence be an decently-sized unflagged skinny, so I think he was a little surprised by it, but he locked on anyway and jumped it no problem. Always game.
Then we played at the Weldon’s walls (they built new ones with much smaller ditches in front but a steeply sloped downhill landing, so it’s fun to ride) which were no problem, then went over and did a line of fences that included a steep downhill gallop then steep uphill to a skinny. That also rode really well. I really like how the new course designer has used the terrain.
I wanted to make sure Henry still remembered how to drop down into water, so we capped off the schooling by going back over to the first water and hopping down the bank. Again, no problem. Really the only bad jump we had all day was the time I rode like a moron to the Prelim trakehner – totally my fault, not his at all. Henry didn’t put a foot wrong all day. He felt fantastic. He felt super confident. He felt… educated. Things are clicking, and it’s fun to feel his progression these days.