Not green as in horses… I’ve been used to green horses for most of my riding life. What IS a newer concept in my world, though, are green numbers. Aka Prelim fences. We’ve jumped a smattering of them over the past couple years, usually the smallest ones or parts of a combo… ie not really a true Prelim question. The first real Prelim-sized fence we jumped was the bigass wagon, at Pine Hill last winter. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever actually have the balls to jump that thing, but Henny just pinged right over.
The past couple XC schools, we’ve actually been adding in more Prelim fences. And not just single fences, but combinations. Real, actual Prelim questions in their entirety. Granted, we’ve schooled at venues that have what I would call softer Prelim courses, so they’re not as hardcore or intimidating as you might see at a more stout venue. Both of these places run recognized shows though, so… they count.
I’ve waffled back and forth on the Prelim thing a lot. It’s a huge step up, it’s a lot harder, a lot bigger, and the room for error is considerably less. It’s the level at which I think things start getting stupid, and the consequences for mistakes are generally more serious. I’m not a fearful rider, but I’ve never been sure if my balls were big enough for that. Of course, if I’m being 100% honest, there is also nothing I would love more than to get to the point where I can run a Prelim on Henry. Even if it’s just a time or two, even if it’s just the “soft” ones, and even if all we do is Complete in a totally unspectacular way. I think Henry deserves the title of Prelim Horse, and I’d be lying if I tried to deny the fact that I want him to have it. I’ve had (and still have) plenty of doubts though, mostly in my own ability.
So these past couple schoolings, where we’ve pointed at real Prelim fences, Prelim combinations at that, and been successful – they’re confidence boosters. Because we know we can jump the height, but it’s the combinations where the weaknesses come out. We still have a hell of lot of work to do at Training, of course, that’s for freaking sure. The stadium definitely needs help and I need to be better in general at… literally everything. But I’m feeling a little more confident that maybe someday we might actually leave the startbox headed for the green numbers of Prelim. Maybe I won’t even piss myself in the process. Nah, j/k, I’ll definitely piss myself if that ever happens. I am never nervous in the startbox but I think that would finally be the time.
Yesterday we headed down to Pine Hill to school. It is a very rare, almost unheard of occasion for me to be able to XC school twice in a week a half, but I definitely can’t pass up the opportunity when it presents itself. The more we can get out there and do it, the better. Plus it’s clearly been way too long since I’ve been to Pine Hill, considering they changed the course in April and I still hadn’t seen it.
We warmed up over the little houses, then moved on to the big mound. The old Prelim route was a log with a big downhill drop landing, down the steep hill to a pile of logs on a bending line. That little log looks so cute and innocent when you canter up to it, then you’re in the air going “Oh wow I have really underestimated this hill”. Henny was a little surprised by it too. From there we went to a right hand bending line combination of fences with a skinnier jumpable face on the left side. They’re an interesting shape, and tall but not very wide. On the course maps, the first fence of the combination is called the Time Warp and then the second one is called Let’s do the Time Warp Again. Anything that’s named after something from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a-ok by me.
By this point a big line of storms was starting to bear down on us, and we were trying to speed things along. Henry and I jumped through the crater, which had a rampy log pile landing in the crater, with a right hand turn to a skinny that came up pretty fast off of a relatively blind turn. XC Henry is generally like riding a jump-seeking missile though. If you point him somewhere near it, he will find it.
After the crater we headed to the Irish bank. Yes, the same Irish bank that made Henry, the XC savant, have a total brain meltdown last year. He just really didn’t understand that question at all, for whatever reason. This time they had it flipped around, so it was jumping the other way. The “in” side was a bit bigger bank with a ditch in front of it, and then the “out” was a log on top of the bank. Whether it’s the extra experience he’s gotten since then, or the change in direction, he seemed to understand it perfectly this time and jumped through it with no problem. That’s a definite relief.
From there we were on our way to the water when it started raining, which was quickly followed by lightning and thunder. That put an end to the day, as all of us on course made a mass exodus to the barn. There were a few more things I wanted to jump, but we can get to them another day.
If you watch the video, fair warning, Trainer’s voice is loud AF.
Overall it was another good, confidence building day for us. Not that Henny really needs it, he’s got plenty of swagger in his step when it comes to XC, but it’s great to finally conquer that stupid Irish bank and feel like maybe, just maybe, I could do this someday afterall. Next weekend we’re gonna try to hit a jumper show, and then it’s time to sit down and figure out my fall season. I think I’m just gonna do a couple recognized Trainings, although I haven’t quite decided which ones yet. After that I think we’ll set our sights on doing some of the Pine Hill schooling shows over the winter. They’re affordable (plus I have a ton of credits to use from volunteering), and they use the same courses as the recognized, so it’s a good bang for your buck. At least it is when the weather cooperates. We’ll see about that part.
Hope everyone else had a great Labor Day, full of all sorts of non-laborious things!