What went well?
Everything felt pretty easy and small, and nothing was particularly intimidating. That’s always a good feeling. My big goals for this course were a) smooth out the whole ride b) have a good jump at the trakehner. Aside from a random bobble (more on that in a bit) everything did come up really well out of stride and rode very smooth, plus the trakehner rode PERFECTLY. I’ve freakin buried him at a trakehner at the last 3 shows we’ve been to, so I was glad to finally break that stupid streak. Sorry Henny, thanks for your patience as you endure the life of an amateur horse.
I also was able to get a little redemption at the Weldon’s Wall, which we jumped on course here in the spring but it was not particularly pretty. They have a bunch of people and the ambulance parked near it and you have to pass all that stuff to get to the Weldon’s, which itself has a big downhill landing that makes it look like you’re jumping off into the abyss. Last time Henry was pretty spooky here and I had to growl at him a bit, but this time he was laser-focused and jumped the absolute shit out of that thing.
Henry also crossed the finish line with his ears pricked, barely so much as an elevated respiratory rate, and I’m pretty sure he could have quite easily gone around again. He’s really fit and strong, and that makes me happy.
What could have gone better?
First of all, there was a lot of confusion about what course my PT division was supposed to be doing – the regular Training course or the Championship course. It made more sense for us to do the Championship course, but nothing was posted or said about it anywhere, so several riders had to go track down the TD and ask. I didn’t find out that they just assumed we were going to do the Championship course until I was in the warmup, which was a little frustrating on several levels. Luckily there were only a couple things that were different between the courses, and I had seen them even if I hadn’t walked them.
But anyway, we had kind of a sad and tragic “shit happens” incident when Henry almost busted ass galloping through a patch of longer grass/chewed up sand going up a steep hill right before the C element of the coffin. We were only a couple strides out at that point and there was just no way we were going to make it safely over the corner while he was still trying to get his feet back under him, so I had to circle, picking up a 20. It was a major bummer, but not a genuine refusal, so… just one of those things that can go wrong when you ride over terrain, I suppose.
What can we work on to improve things next time?
Clearly I should be more aware of slight footing changes, even if they seem relatively minor to me. Henry does have a tendency to trip easily, so I maybe should have tried to do more to help him there. Lesson learned.
Otherwise he was pretty foot perfect and everything felt good, but if I’m nit-picking I do think that I was a little bit less forward and positive to the first few jumps than I normally am, and it felt like he didn’t really get settled into his gallop until after the first water. Granted, the course was really twisty and turny and did not make for a good flow at all. I wasn’t a fan.
In general though it was a good show, with LOTS of learning moments, some big triumphs, and plenty that we can build on going forward. It was a major confidence boost for me, and I’m looking forward to Pine Hill in a couple weeks to close out our year!