As mentioned in my horse show prep post, this event ran in a different order than I have ever run a horse trial. After Dressage, we had a couple of hours to relax and get our gear swapped out, then it was on to cross country. I quickly found out my biggest issue with this format… I have to keep my jacket and stock tie clean from Saturday to Sunday so that I don’t show up to SJ looking like I’ve never seen a washing machine. Luckily, I have a great garment bag, and I forced myself to remain at least somewhat organized.
Unfortunately, the professional video isn’t out yet, so I will just have to post it later. Luckily, professional photos were available, and I got some great ones to include!
We had walked the course the night before, and there really wasn’t much I was worried about. A lot of the course was decorated with VERY bright flowers, and the entrance to the water was a bit weird. Quite honestly, the biggest concern was whether or not I would get lost. After the water, you had to cross up and over the dirt road that loops around the property, and it wasn’t at all marked as to where exactly this crossing should happen.
Either way, I tacked up and headed over. Passed a couple of barn-mates on my way there, and they were raving about what good rides they had. I got a high five, and made my way to the warm up arena. To discover… that once again… I was SUPER early. Oh well, we walked around a bit… and May jigged around a bit. She clearly knew what was up.
Warmup went SUPER well. We jumped the starter log, then the beginner novice log… then ended up jumping the novice log… then Chloe had me jump the novice log and bend it to a vertical show jump in the cross country warm up. Did May care? No. For context, the warmup arena for XC at Galway Downs is a giant arena, with footing. In the middle of the arena is a line of jumps ranging from intro/starter to Intermediate-ish. In between each of the jumps is a giant cypress tree. Seriously, it’s bougie. It is also contained. Remember this fact.
So May warmed up great and reasonable, and we headed to the startbox… to watch the horse that went before me get eliminated at jump one. Fun! But she’s been great, and I know she is brave, so we are ready! 3…2…1…Have a good ride! And we are off.
Jump 1 was a hanging log with some flowers, but it ran alongside some sketchy palm trees. I took my time to it, trying to keep May rideable and soft. She jumped it great, and we headed up towards the trailers to loop around to jump 2. She was fighting with me a bit to jump 2, not so much afraid of the trailers, as trying to tell me “hey mom, the jumps are the OTHER way.” Then we made the short 90 degree turn to jump 2… and this was her view.
Let’s just say… this amount of open space and a downhill run to the next jump did not work in favor of the “keep May rideable and soft” goal. She jumped 2 great and basically wanted to bolt down the hill with me. I half halted and zig zagged my path and used all the tools in my tool box and… yeah… not much was effective. We had a similar issue at our last horse trial in Indiana, but it ended when she got to the woods portion of the course… there is no woods portion to this course in Southern California.
Three was a jump we had jumped before… in the location we had jumped it. So no worries as May popped over that one and continued to want to run away with me. It’s funny because I am sure that when I get the video, we will be going at a reasonable pace, but the horse was literally running away with me in slow motion. Again, I tried zig zagging my path so she wasn’t jus running in a straight line, and we popped over fence 4.
Part of me was like, this is fine, no worries. Jump 5 was a combination of a hanging log to a bank. We had done it in the opposite direction when schooling, and I figured the bright flowers and the combination would help back her off a bit. Now… I am pretty sure that the line was supposed to be 6 strides… I am also pretty sure we did it in like 4 and a half… She locked on to the bank, read the question, and took off. I have no idea how the pictures look this tame.
Enjoy the perfection of that roached mane right there. 🙂
At this point, I was kind of like… oh no… I need a better handle on this. I was about 2 minutes into pulling against a brick wall with all my strength. My 45 minute spin classes were starting to fail me, and I knew I couldn’t spend another 3 minutes trying to strong arm my little yellow freight train. I gave her a bit half halt to get her back to the world’s most collected canter, and she blew me off. FUN. We popped over a gray hanging log at jump 6.
Jump 7 was a fairly large table (for BN), but the big question was the steep hill down and then back up leading up to it. I made May trot then let her flow down the hill and back up it… at which point she charged the giant table. No… no ma’am. So then we were officially in full schooling mode, and I made her trot until she let me soften without trying to take off. Since the water was kind of a lot to look at, I had her trot into it. (You came off a soccer field, past a soccer goal with the net and everything, and then into a water with a lot of upper level questions in it.)
She didn’t care, so we stayed in the water and then up and over a little hanging log on the other side… then… I needed to find my way over the embankment/road to jump number 10. Apparently, at the last event, a lot of riders had cruised right past it and had to double back. Honestly, I am not surprised… look at this.
There is the idea path. Right past those little baby palm trees. May was ready to charge right past it since… you know… there are CLEARLY more jumps for jumping over that way. So we trotted again. I stuffed her brain back in her head again, and then we were able to canter up the hill and down to the blue roll top on the other side.
Again though, this path gave her a GREAT VIEW of all the other jumps that needed jumping, so she went to bolt into the field. Again… we trotted until she was listening, then cantered again and finally FINALLY she became rideable. Jump 11 was some red stairs with a lot of flowers. Then we had a straight shot to a hanging log under some trees. This was the first jump I was able to get any kind of close distance to, which was a nice change of pace. Jump 13 was a combination of a wall and then a 90 degree turn to a half ditch.
I feel like you can see in this photo that May was jumping a bit rounder and softer over the fences vs. earlier in the course where she was jumping straight across them. On the course walk, I had joked that she was going to trip on the half ditch because she always trips on the half ditches. And you know what? She tripped on the half ditch.
So we ended up counter cantering the last fence, and I let her gallop across the finish. I knew from my watch that I probably had some time. As life turned out… I had ONE second of time. UGH. First time penalty of my eventing career.
At first, I was pretty frustrated. Why couldn’t my horse just be rideable and easy around cross country? Why couldn’t I be stronger/fitter to be able to manage her without needing to haul her back to the trot? But the truth is, I did give my horse the ride she needed. Was it the ride she wanted? No. Was it the ride I wanted? No. But it was the ride that she needed to be more rideable on our next cross country course AND to be rideable for show jumping the next day.
Plus, its hard to stay frustrated with such an adorable, brave, corgi horse. <3