After a decent dressage, Henry was sitting in 2nd. This show was run in the format of doing stadium and then going straight to XC with only about 10 minutes in between, so our strategy for stadium was to keep warmup as short as possible and save his energy. Because the XC goes right past the dressage rings, they didn’t start anyone in stadium/xc until all the dressage was over, meaning that even though Henry was the 4th horse on course, his start time wasn’t until around 1:00pm… when it was about 96 degrees.
Trainer had actually never showjumped Henry before, so this was a first. She cantered a few laps of warmup, hopped over a few fences, and then went to wait in the shade for his turn. I had a bucket of cold water with me to sponge him with, but he seemed to be handling the temperature and humidity really well. This is why we condition in the heat!
He went in the ring and had a fairly uneventful course. He got a bit flat and went past his distance at 2, the smallest and least impressive fence in the ring, so of course he had that rail. He tapped a few more but luckily nothing else fell from the cups. If you asked me to predict which one he’d take down, that jump would have been my guess. Bigger/scarier is better for him when it comes to stadium, so a tiny plain fence is ripe for Henny annihilation.
I was ok with a rail though… Trainer and I both kind of think that he’s going to be a one rail type of horse at Training, because he just doesn’t find stadium particularly interesting or challenging, nor does he seem to mind tapping the fences. Someone might have some square poles in his future.
After stadium I hurried to put his XC boots on, give Trainer her vest and some water, get the helmet cam ready to go, and then off they went to the start box. Henry perked up immediately as soon as he realized where he was going. Once they headed off toward the start box I ran back the other direction toward the finish so that I could be there waiting to take him and cool him down when they were done. I positioned myself by a jump judge so I could hear her radio: “Rider 8 clear at fence 1… Rider 8 clear at fence 2…” and around they went. I knew he’d be golden through the first 7, but fence 8 was an option – you could either take a longer route over a simple Training rolltop, or you could take the quick route over the Prelim weldon’s wall… I knew she was taking the Prelim option, so I held my breath a little until I heard the “Rider 8 clear fence 8”. Whew.
By fence 10 I could see her off in the distance in the far field. Bobby was standing in that area to get video, since it was the place where you could see the most fences put together. Henry easily hopped up the bank combo, then into and out of the water, then over the brushy table, and then was off and running into the next field toward the combo at the mound.
He skipped easily over the A-B-C combo at the mound, then they headed to the Trakehner, which was the other one I had a little concern about. You can’t tell in the course walk picture, but the ditch under this thing was MASSIVE. Like 4′ wide and deep enough for a family of hobbits to live in, with a metal culvert pipe running through the bottom of the hole and some random brush in it from the recent flooding. I took one peek in that thing and just about peed myself. Henry has seen some little Trakehners before, but never one like THAT. True to form though, he motored right over it without a second thought. Then they disappeared from my view again for the corner (“Rider 8 clear fence 16”, thank god for the jump judge’s walkie talkie), then popped back into my view for the last two – a couple of tables.
At this point I heard Trainer whoaing… and this is worth a little backstory. Originally in the prize list the speed for Training was listed at 420mpm, but when we got the course map at the show it said 470mpm. A couple of the riders (including my Trainer) were concerned about the speed, given the extreme heat, and the TD agreed to reduce the speed to what was listed in the prize list. She jokingly told my trainer that she better not have speed faults, which we all had a good laugh about. The horse is just here for a good confidence building run around his first T, she was not going for time! Well… guess who clocked around so easily that she found herself whoaing the last few fences? He absolutely would have made the time at 470mpm. Henny says the speed is no problem, guys – double clear XC!
This might be my favorite helmet cam footage to date… he’s totally in Beast Mode tackling this course. He just gets better and better as things get harder.
Trainer crossed the finish, checked the posted OT and Speed Fault times to make sure she wasn’t too fast (nope, plenty of room to spare) and I got to work cooling Henry down. He wasn’t very hot, and didn’t look the least bit tired, but his respiratory rate was up pretty high, which was no surprise. I sponged and scraped him in the shade for a while and got his resp rate down while Trainer chattered excitedly about taking him Prelim this winter. Heh, you go right ahead with your bad self, I’m sure as heck never running Prelim! But there’s no doubt that the Training XC wasn’t a challenge for him.
The horse that had been ahead of Henry going into stadium had some rails, so by the time all was said and done, Henry won! It was a tiny division but they were really nice, more experienced horses and the course was legit, so I’m super proud of him. He recovered really well from XC, despite the heat, and was still bouncy and perky and very proud of himself by the time we got home – he pranced off the trailer. This is exactly what I had in mind when I decided to have Trainer ride him in his first couple shows at this level. Watching him go around so easily makes me more confident in myself too. He’s fit, he’s happy, he’s bursting with confidence, and he’s ready for Coconino! And now Trainer is trying to steal my horse for Prelim/1*…