If you’re on facebook, you’ve probably seen a little bit about Seaver and their new smart girth and girth sleeve. It was a project featured on Kickstarter (it ended a few days ago so if you didn’t get in on that, you’ll have to wait until full production/availability sometime next year) that quickly surpassed it’s original production goal. It’s really fancy and does all kinds of cool stuff, but short version: it’s a girth that takes metrics about your horse’s performance and sends it to an app so you can analyze it. It should surprise exactly no one that a) I backed their project b) I’m ridiculously excited about this.
Seaver isn’t the first wearable to hit the market – some of you may remember or have contributed to the Equisense/Balios Kickstarter. Their’s is a fairly small plastic sensor that attaches to the girth via a special strap. Similar concept that provides similar data. I wanted to back their Kickstarter but just never committed, since I really wanted heart rate and respiratory rate data too. I figured I’d wait for it to hit the market and see what the reviews were like, then consider it.
Then the Seaver campaign started, and I was drawn to the idea of an all-in-one piece plus the heart rate/respiratory rate data. So of course I caved and backed the Kickstarter while everything was still 50% off. All of the information about Seaver, the products, and the technology is still up on the Kickstarter page, for those who are interested in learning more. At the very least you should watch the first few minutes of the promo video, just because it’s cool:
Pretty incredible all the information that this thing can give you. Like the Balios, not only can you analyze your rides and track fitness, you could also potentially spot soreness or unevenness before it becomes apparent to the eye. The technology is cool, for sure, but the potential benefits of the data are even further-reaching. Here are just a few of the things it can do:
Since Seaver reached not only their original goal but also their stretch goal on Kickstarter (yaaaaay), they’ll now also be including a way to measure your horse’s stress level, too. How, I don’t really know. French magic? We’ll see.
Given how much just a decent heart rate monitor can cost, the prices on the girth sleeve (between $123 and $200, depending on when you backed) and the girth (between $270 and $370) were pretty reasonable in the Kickstarter. It’ll be interesting to see what the final retail will be, but I’m encouraged by those prices, all things considered. Pretty darn fancy gadget for that price. Hopefully it works.
Did anyone else contribute to Seaver’s (or Equisense’s) Kickstarter campaign? Surely I’m not the only data loving nerd that is really interested to see how it works and what all it does. I can’t wait to start playing with it, and see how they do sales-wise when they come onto the regular market. I hope it does all the things they say it will… it could potentially be a really useful tool for me and Henry!
We haven’t been doing much since we got back from Arizona, which is totally by design. I feel like we worked really damn hard for many months leading up to it, then Henry spent a lot of time in a trailer, then showing on hard ground, and he deserves a little bit of a mental and physical break. Honestly, I want one too. I’m not ready for another damn trot set yet.
I’ve “ridden” him three times in the 10 days that we’ve been back – two bareback road hacks, and one half road hack/half canter around the arena and jump 3 tiny fences. Which I really only did because I wanted to more thoroughly try out the fancy breeches a friend bought me as a gift (more on those at some point). Henry spent most of that ride pretending to buck while I tried my hardest not to laugh. Bucking… not Henry’s forte, but I’m glad he’s feeling good.
It’s also just really hot and humid here, and the ground is officially so cracked that riding outside of the ring isn’t safe. And you know how Henry and I both feel about riding in the ring all the time?
During his little mini-break I’ve tried to leave him alone as much as possible. He doesn’t really like being fussed over and pampered, so he’s been enjoying a lot of MeHenny time. Except for that one bath where he just looked tortured and sad from start to finish. Meanwhile I’ve been doing those adulting things that I pretty much suck at doing on a regular basis, like laundry and errands and making food and hanging out with non-horse people. Ok, I still haven’t done those very well either, but better than usual counts right? And we’ve caught up on some Netflix, finishing Stranger Things (anyone else having some trippy dreams after watching that?) and the last season of OITNB (which I probably need some therapy for).
We’ll start getting back to regular rides this weekend, slowly amping back up to a heavier workload. Hopefully this little reprieve is what we both need to feel ready to come out swinging for the fall season, because I have a lot of work to do before our Training debut in October…
If you follow me on Instagram you already know a little bit about this, but I have a Devoucoux Loreak (henceforth known as The Unicorn) coming to me on trial. Yeah, I know, just a few days ago I said it probably wouldn’t happen until winter, but let me explain.
Last week, the SO and I were driving to dinner and I was rambling on about our adventures in Arizona. I mentioned the saddle frustration… how much I loved Trainer’s saddle, was hoping I could make something cheaper work, yet failed at that and now was really sad about it. He chastised me for not buying the best saddle in the first place (he’s very much That Guy, he prefers to buy perfection right off the bat). I totally agree with his theory, but when perfection is like double your budget and you own a horse (aka 4-legged money burner), reality is harsh.
He asked me how much they were, and I told him the new price (mind boggling) and the used price (less mind boggling). He said “that doesn’t really seem that bad”. Thank goodness for an SO that comes from the world of road cycling, where a fancy bike can easily be 10k. I told him it was a fair price for such a nice saddle, it’s just not a realistic figure for me right now. I had to sell the current one first, save up for a few months, hope I found the right saddle at the right time, etc etc. Then he said “Well, I can always buy it if you find one you like.”.
Stop. Back up. Wha-what? Did you just tell a horse person that you would buy The Unicorn saddle? My one and only? My Eleanor? I must be dreaming. Am I dreaming? Or just dead. Is this heaven? No wait, can’t be heaven if I’m there…
I may or may not have geeked the hell out, professed undying love and devotion, promised him I would pay him back (because that seems like too much money to just TAKE), and then immediately texted my trainer to let her know to be on the lookout for one like hers. She in turn contacted the Devoucoux rep she always works with (thanks Sam!), who happened to have a buffalo Loreak just like that in my budget, and boom. It was literally a matter of hours.
The Unicorn is on it’s way to me as we speak. I have a trial period, but the panel specs are right on so I’m hoping it works. My only hesitation is that it’s a 17.5 and I might need an 18, so we’ll see. I’m trying not to get beyond ridiculously excited, but still…
I must have racked up a crapton of karma points somewhere along the way.
This is it, you’ve made it to the end of the Coconino posts! Congratulations, and I’m sorry for all the rambling.
I really had to do this post for me… I feel like Coconino was meant to be a learning experience. I walked away knowing a lot more about myself, good and bad, and with a greater understanding of why I do this. Some of it was a little hard to swallow, but maybe that makes it even more important to remember.
It’s ok to make mistakes. This could also be “it’s supposed to be fun” or “you can’t win ’em all”, and man do I struggle with this when I’m in the heat of the moment. I absolutely hate how it feels to dismount and know that I haven’t done my part. That’s difficult for me to work through mentally, and I tend to stew on it and let it fester. But this is not a sport where perfection is possible, and it’s not supposed to be. There will always be something I could have done better, and because I am but a mere mortal, sometimes I will make completely moronic mistakes. Everyone does, that’s part of it. I have to get better at forgiving myself, letting it go, and remembering that this is FUN, otherwise I’ll burn myself out. And while, no, I didn’t walk away from the N3D with the placing I wanted, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had at a show in my entire life… because it WAS.
My horse is a badass. Ok, I already knew this, but,for real though, have y’all met this creature? Henry continues to impress me at every single show with how brave he is and how much he loves cross country. He just keeps getting better and better, and he’s so incredibly confident in himself. Week 1 was by far the hardest course he’s seen and it was pretty much a piece of cake. He is legitimately knocking on the door of Prelim (uh, with Trainer obviously, not with me) and I’m just awed by him. How did I get this lucky?
Summer camp will never stop being awesome. This trip was like the best adult version of summer camp ever. We basically spent two weeks camping in the woods with our horses… which, now that I think about it, makes it better than any summer camp I ever went to as a kid. The only thing missing was the campfire and s’mores, but we had wine, so fair trade? I made several new friends, had a great time getting away from the real world for a while, and got to play with my pony for 13 days straight. That needs to happen every year because it was therapeutic beyond belief.
The Classic 3 Day format is an art. While I had a good idea of what the long format was all about before we got there, reading about it and actually doing it are totally different things. Spending more time on my horse on XC day, gauging how he felt during Roads and Tracks, and feeling how bold and forward the steeplechase made both of us… it was phenomenal. I do completely understand why the long format went away in the first place, but man, I wish there were more of these Classic events. I would choose them over the regular format in a heartbeat. Steeplechase was a huge lightbulb moment.
I need a new dressage saddle. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to do a difficult job when you don’t have the right tools. I really didn’t realize just how much better Trainer’s saddle was until I rode in it twice and then went back to mine. The right saddle makes everything feel so much easier. Shoulda just bought a Loreak in the first place. But, I do have some news on that front…
Oh, show jumping. Considering I came from h/j land, you’d think I’d be better at it.
At our past few recognized events I’ve managed to royally mess up stadium somehow. Not at schooling jumper shows, those all seem to go just fine. Not at derbies, those have gone fine too. Usually not when the jumps are bigger, since I have to ride better at those. But slap a USEA label on it, put me in a ring full of Novice sized fences, and watch the little monkey dance! For real though, what is my deal?
I seem to have a problem applying a plan. I go in the ring, my mind goes blank, and I fumble around like a total moron. So at this show I was EXTRA DETERMINED to listen to the plan, learn the plan, and execute the plan!
Surely you can see where this is going.
But before we could get to all that planning, first we had to pass the final jog. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more anxious at a show before, with the vet and Ground Jury examining my horse and watching him trot. The ground was really hard at Coconino, most of the Roads and Tracks was literally on the road, and the XC course had rocky patches that were just unavoidable. Even with icing, poultice, and hoof pack, paranoid doesn’t even begin to cover it. I was definitely feeling glad that we’d done a lot of conditioning on hard ground.
Luckily they declared mine “ACCEPTED!” really quickly, so we made it past that hurdle. Accepted is my new favorite word in the entire world.
After the jog we hurried over to walk stadium, and I spent the rest of the morning going over and over the course in my head, replaying Trainer’s words. Keep the shoulder up here, a slight counterflexion here, turn exactly here, keeping coming forward here, etc etc. I had that shit down pat.
SURELY you can see where this is going.
I got on for warmup and Henry felt great. Still very forward, not at all tired from the day before, and all the distances were coming up perfectly. Everything felt great. I walked up to the arena, thought the jumps looked TEENY TINY, and started feeling really confident.
SURELY YOU CAN SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING.
We went in, picked up a good canter, and jumped 1 and 2 just fine. I actually stuck to the plan, and it worked! Go freaking figure. Then as we were coming around to 3 I clearly heard Trainer’s words in my head “make sure you go a stride past where you think you should turn, the angle is deceiving!”. So I made very sure to wait before I turned. Except I waited 2 strides instead of 1, and when I turned I found myself lined up perfectly with the standard. Henry was super confused about where the hell I was trying to go, and I tried my best to get him back toward the middle, then basically laid on his neck (because I dunno, that always helps?) while he struggled to put in one last teeny tiny stride, which forced him to pop straight up in the air over the oxer, taking down the back rail on the way down. Bless him for even trying. Many cookies for that poor horse, he is long-suffering. Someone call PETA.
There are no words. I wish I could tell you that our 3 Day experience ended in triumph and victory and accolades, but nope. Unfortunately those 4 faults dropped us down out of ribbons, which was really disappointing, but you just can’t get away with mistakes in a really competitive division like that. Luckily our team still won (woot, Anchor Equestrian!) plus USEA is kind enough to provide pretty cool little 3 Day completion ribbons, therefore we didn’t walk away totally empty handed.
So uh… yay for not falling off?
One more Coco post tomorrow, and then we’re officially done talking about it. I promise.
I still haven’t come down from the high that was Endurance Day at the 3 Day, so brace yourselves for a lot of exclamation marks and all caps because OMG IT WAS THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD ON A HORSE IN MY LIFE!!!
For real though, it was. What I really loved about the whole 3 Day experience was the clinic-type feel that it had to it. We got to do a steeplechase practice on Thursday afternoon, taught by none other than Hawley Bennett. Really appreciate Hawley giving us her time and her expertise, she did a great job and I felt much more prepared afterwards. The organizers also drove us around the Roads and Tracks course, explaining the gates and the markers and the vet box, and how all of that stuff worked. We got to ask questions and talk things out as a group. We even got to learn how to properly jog and present our horses to the ground jury/vet for formal inspection (swear to god that was the hardest part). The experience was phenomenal… sometimes it’s really fun to step a bit outside your comfort zone and learn something new. Anyone out there who’s been toying with the idea of doing a classic format 3 Day – DO IT!
I’ll do my best to explain the phases that make up endurance day (as briefly as possible) as I go along for those who aren’t familiar with the long format. But basic overview: there are 4 phases – A, B, C, and D. Phases A and C are Roads and Tracks, B is Steeplechase, and D is the actual cross country itself. Between phases C and D you have the 10 minute vet box, where vets look over the horse and make sure it’s fit to continue to phase D. Then after you’re done with D you have the After D box, where the vets again check over the horse, make sure it’s vitals are returning to normal, check for soundness, etc. It makes for quite a day.
There really is no warm up on Endurance Day – phases A through C are meant to be your warm up, so you just show up at the start flags about 5-10 minutes ahead of your start time and wait to be started on phase A. I had quite a fun start to my day when I went to check my watch when the starter said “90 seconds” and realized it had died sometime between when I put it on and exactly that moment. I should also note that it was a borrowed watch, because the battery was starting to die in my watch and I wanted to be safe rather than sorry. So I wheeled Henry around and trotted back to the barn, yelling for one of the girls to grab a watch. She tossed it to me and I put it on as I trotted back to the start, arriving with 10 seconds to spare. Third watch was the charm.
Phase A was pretty simple – 2640 meters at 220 mpm, which is basically just a working trot. If you can read the flashcard in my armband in the picture above and look on the map below, you can see that there are K markers, for kilometer. Just like on XC, you want to keep track of where you are time-wise to avoid coming in too slow and getting penalties. There were two kilometer markers on Phase A, A1K and A2K. There were also two “gates” on phase A – mandatory sets of flags that you had to pass through. Those were designated by A1 and A2 on the map.
We trotted all of A until the last stretch, where we picked up a forward canter to let Henry open up his lungs and stretch his legs before steeplechase. We arrived into phase B about a minute early, so we had a little bit of extra time to hang out in the shade (you can come in early on phases A and C without penalty, just not later than optimum time).
At Coconino they run steeplechase on the racetrack, which makes it extra fun. They count you down out of the startbox just like they do on cross country, and then you’re off! We had a distance of 1300 meters with 4 fences (the first fence was also the last fence, so we made a little over one full lap) to be ridden around 450mpm, which is Training speed. Time was done on this phase just like on XC, with a minimum and a maximum. No faster than 2:30, but no slower than 3:00.
Henry and I had SUCH a blast on this phase. He was so happy to be running and jumping, and it was awesome practice for letting him jump out of stride. Hawley’s advice was to leave their speed alone on the approach to the jump, but to just bring your shoulders up a little in the last few strides for balance. She also said that we should land going faster than we took off – basically be thinking forward the whole way around. I took that advice to heart and hugged the rail in the turns, let him jump out of stride as best I could, and landed going forward. Doing all of that put me on the faster side, we came in at 2:34. It was such an amazing feeling, and really confidence-building to feel your horse self-adjusting for the fences. I sat up, he picked his spot. They really don’t need our help as much as we think. Steeplechase is AWESOME for learning to not micro-manage your horse so much, something I definitely needed. Those 2 1/2 minutes alone were worth the trip.
Bobby actually got video of fences 1, 2, and 4…
The finish for phase B also marked the start for phase C – a second Road and Tracks. This phase is meant to be a cool down from steeplechase, so the speed is slower – only 160mpm (basically trotting with some walking mixed in) but a little bit longer at 2720 meters. There was also an “Assistance Area” right at the beginning of C. This was the ONLY place (aside from the vet box) where you could get outside assistance if necessary. My trainer was waiting for us there when we came off of steeplechase, asked me how it was going, sponged Henry off, and bid us adieu. Phase C also had 1K and 2K markers, plus two mandatory gates that we had to pass through, just like Phase A. I walked the first couple minutes, then trotted most of the way before walking another minute as we got close to the vet box. I came into the vet box a few minutes early by design, knowing that Henry can take a little longer than average for his respiratory rate to come down due to the scar tissue in his lungs. I wanted to give him extra time before we started D.
We had a great team of people from the barn working in the vet box for us – designated timers (to keep track of how long we had), horse holders, spongers/scrapers, etc. I was able to go get a drink of water while they worked on cooling Henry down and the vet team checked him over. With 4 minutes left to go until my start time for D, the vets did one last check, watched him jog, and cleared us to start D. I hopped back on, went down to the start box, waited for my countdown, and away we went.
I have to say, this Novice course felt REALLY easy, even with the coffin that caused a ton of problems week 1. Henry thinks he’s a big bad Training horse now and there’s just nothing they can build on Novice that remotely fazes him. He skipped around like it was a Sunday afternoon stroll through the park. I tried my best to just sit there and leave him alone as much as possible, keeping in a steady rhythm and jumping out of stride (thank you steeplechase). After the coffin I realized we were definitely ahead of time and tried to squish his canter back down, then immediately biffed the distance at the next fence (enjoy the lovely GRUNT that you hear on the helmet cam video at 15!). At that point I said screw it and let him go again. He’s most comfortable around 450mpm now, and that seems to suit us the best, so I’m just not going to mess with it. Instead we trotted the last fence to make sure we weren’t too fast, which seemed to be a better compromise.
After phase D we went back up to the vet area for the After D check. My helpers stripped the tack, sponged, and walked him for a while, and the vets checked him out again to make sure he was cooling down appropriately and still looked sound. Once they were satisfied with his condition we were released to go back to the barn. Then it was icing, poulticing, and packing feet, because we had our final jog bright and early the next morning before we could show jump!
Overall it was a really freaking fun day. More stressful than a typical cross country day, for sure, but roads and tracks + steeplechase was such a great warm up for XC. Everything just flowed so well and Henry felt bulletproof. Totally in love with the long format. It was challenging enough to be interesting but the course itself was easy enough to be… well… easy. Hopefully that was our last Novice, so it’s good that XC felt like a walk in the park and it ended up being a penalty-free day.
Hope y’all got your fill of good riding in the week 1 recaps, because it’s about to get reeeal Amateur Hour up in here! After his weekend running Training with Trainer, I got on Henry on Tuesday to ride through our dressage test… and unfortunately he was just totally wired for sound. After lots of saddle time and some tack changes (added a flash, switched to Trainer’s saddle) it was better, but we still never got to ride through the test. Horse is really damn fit and full of himself these days.
It’s impossible to deny how much better Henry and I both feel in Trainer’s saddle. I’ve known this for a while, and getting a saddle like hers has been on my to-do list, but riding in it again was a real wake-up call. Priority has changed, Loreak needs to come off the “someday” list and move right up into ASAP. Henry feels freer through his back in those D3D panels, and I feel so much more stable and balanced that it’s borderline ridiculous. Unfortunately to buy a new one I’d have to sell the current one plus save up another $500-900, not to mention they’re a little bit hard to find, so I just don’t see it happening before winter unless someone wants to loan me $2k.
Originally we thought I’d be able to use Trainer’s saddle for my test, but the night before dressage I realized that her N horse went at exactly the same time I did. Huge bummer. When I got on to warm up for dressage I could really feel the difference, and was definitely struggling a bit in my saddle after riding in her magical unicorn saddle for two days. It’s frustrating to feel like you’ve come all that way and spent all that money and still don’t have the right equipment.
Henry also felt a bit… electric. By that point he’d been cooped up for over a week and had already run XC once. When you have a fit, enthusiastic thoroughbred, you know how fun that is. He was obedient, but jesus he was LIT. It was a very careful warm up, to say the least. Every tiny little move I made got a big response, and it was like his legs were stuck in fast forward. The only time he seemed to take a breath was in the canter.
I thought I’d learned my test pretty well, but by the time I got in the ring I was trying so hard to keep my very tense horse from losing his shit that I completely blew past the first canter and had an error. Seriously. I still can’t believe I did that. Probably would have helped if I’d gotten to ride through the test at some point beforehand. Live and learn.
After the error I got a bit frazzled and Henry got more and more tense. The whole test felt pretty heinous and embarrassing, not gonna lie. Luckily it didn’t look quite as bad as it felt. I was expecting something like a 40-42 (with the error) but we got a 38. Damn that effing error.
I was pretty livid with myself when I came out of the ring. An error is just such a dumb mistake, things like that make me nuts. Trainer said I was way too hard on myself, and I knew she was right, but I needed time to process it. And finally I realized that the fact is: I’m just a very average amateur rider, and as such, I’m gonna make mistakes. Lots of them. All the time. Sometimes I’ll get away with them (ahem Holly Hill stadium), sometimes I won’t. That’s just the way it goes. I’m also really competitive, so it’s hard for me to reconcile my expectations vs my reality. But I figured – I was still happy with my horse’s effort (he always tries) and happy that we were even there and able to do the 3Day in the first place. A kinda crappy dressage ride at a 3Day in Flagstaff, AZ on a beautiful Thursday morning just doesn’t even begin to register on the scale of what constitutes a bad day. Time to own the mistake, learn the lesson, quit being a baby about it, and move on.
What’s done was done, and really it could have been a lot worse. Either way, now we were done with dressage and could finally get on to the fun part!
Not gonna lie, this course made us crap our collective pants. We came to Coco hoping for a nice easy move-up course for Henry and that is NOT what we got. When you get to the trakehner and go “oh good, a let-up fence…” you know you’ve walked into something gnarly. I wondered if I’d made the right decision. Was the course asking too much of Henry? Was it fair to him? I wasn’t sure.
Fences 1 and 2 were simple enough, although there were a few problems at 2 (guessing because it was fairly skinny and off a turn)
Fence 3 was just a rolltop
Fence 4 was supposed to be a simple hanging log in the middle of the water, but because they tried to build the water jump last minute (no joke, they were still working on it the DAY OF) the footing wasn’t right and they ended up removing it from the course. I didn’t really care much about that one either way, Henry is good with water.
Fence 5 was a huge ugly maxed out square table that I’m pretty sure will haunt me in my dreams. Bobby says the key to jumping the big tables is to not go anywhere near them during the course walk so that you don’t realize how big they actually are. I’ll be heeding that advice in the future. It was SO WIDE.
6A and B were two skinny, upright fences that also caused problems for some people.
Fence 7 was the first one where I was like “Oh thank god, that one’s small and easy”…
well, it was small and easy because it was the first fence of a bending line to a CORNER. A real, legit, wide, skinny, awful, scary, nauseating corner. Hidden behind a tree. On Training! I’ve never seen a corner like this on a Training course, especially not off of a short bending approach. There was only one good line, and if you didn’t find it you were screwed.
Then it was down the hill to a max steeplechase fence (which by this point just looked cute)
Then down two more short steep hills basically straight down into the second water, which had a hanging log in, bending line out to a fairly skinny cabin. There were a lot of problems here… the water really came up out of nowhere at the bottom of the big hill and was very very dark.
After the water you wound around to the trakehner (which yes by this point it was like “oh good, just a trakehner”)
Around to a very basic log, which was the easiest fence on the course (like a “congratulations for making it this far” kind of reward?)
And then down into the 3rd water (yes 3rd) which was a rolltop into the water with a bending line (yes another one) out of the water, up to a skinny faced (yes again) brush fence that they shared with Prelim.
Had enough of the skinny fences yet? HAHAHA too bad. Guess what was next?
Then it was around to the ditch and wall (yeah sure, at this point, why not throw that in there?)
Then down the hill to the COFFIN! With the C element being a skinny-ish brush fence on a bend. Did you expect anything different by this point? I think this was where Trainer declared it the toughest Training course she’s ever seen. Cue me sweating lots of bullets.
17 was a max height/fairly wide log oxer, but one of the friendliest looking jumps on the course.
And then to the last fence which looked like a regular jump from the front, but really was more of an upbank… the landing side was only about a foot lower than the top of the fence. Kinda weird.
I was really nervous when they headed to the startbox. It’s my responsibility to make the right choices for my horse, a responsibility I do not take lightly, and I was questioning this decision a little bit. Would this course be asking too much of him at this point in his career? He’s an XC machine, but still… this was a lot for a horse that is new to the level. The very last thing I want to do is overface him and damage his confidence. My heart was absolutely POUNDING as they counted her down and she left the box.
I could see him jump 1 and 2, which he looked perfectly happy about. Then they disappeared from my view before coming back by the start box for the giant table at 5. He jumped that thing like a freaking rockstar, so I was hopeful that he’d be Game On for the rest of the course.
I stayed by the jump judge as they headed up the hill into the woods so that I could hear the walkie talkie… clear at 6ab, clear at 7, and then after what seemed like the longest pause ever, clear at 8 – the corner. I let out a huge breath at that point. There had been lots of problems at the corner and I really wasn’t sure that Henry would understand the question, but he’s like a freaking XC savant so of course he did.
Then I ran across the clearing so I could get video of them at the third water. I stood there waiting and waiting… the horse before them should have come through but never showed up, which started making me nervous. Then finally there they came through the trees, to the water, and very easily through. Pretty sure I screamed my lungs out, punched the air, and looked like a total psycho. Whatever.
Then I ran back across the clearing so I could video the last fence. I just couldn’t stand still, and was pacing back and forth. Watching your horse go is way more anxiety-inducing than actually riding. By the time I heard them coming I was basically jumping up and down. They jumped easily over the last, galloped through the finish, and I took off running after them, grinning ear to ear.
This is my favorite helmet cam video to date. There’s a lot of Trainer’s heavy breathing (high altitude is fun!), approximately 100 “Good Boy!”s, and one pretty hilarious “SORRY HENNY!”. But his ears really tell the story.
Double clear, and I could not believe it. Who’s a badass? HENNY! He’s never seen a course like that in his life, but he flew right through everything like it was no big deal (Trainer said he took a good peek at the second water, but it sounds like pretty much everyone did, even Halo). Of course, it helped that he was very well-piloted. He was so pleased with himself that he strutted back the barn, and by the time we got there he was cooled out and looked ready to go around again.
There was enough trouble on XC that Henry moved up to 4th in the Open division. He was also on the winning Training Team (woot, Texas!) and was the 6th closest Training horse to optimum time. So he got three ribbons, a gift card, and some other stuff… prizes at Coco were awesome. But really, I was just so thrilled that he jumped easily around such a tough XC full of questions that he’d never seen before. He was a very happy and confident horse at the end of the day, and that was the whole point.
For week 1 of Coconino, Trainer showed Henry in his first recognized Training. Everything we had seen and heard about Coco from years past made it look like a pretty good move-up course… that was not the case this year. When we walked XC the first time I’m not sure whose eyes were bugging out more – mine or Trainer’s. But before we could fully panic about Sunday’s XC, we had to get through the dressage and stadium on Saturday.
It feels like there’s never really a whole lot to say about dressage. Henry slowly gets better but he’s still tense and a bit tricky to ride in the little white rectangle. His test was very obedient but obviously tense, and he scored a 35. For him, at Training, that’s a totally fair score. He just needs more miles.
The Open division was full of fancy horses, so his 35 put him 7th of 10. My little nervous TB cannot compete with the big fancy Holsteiner stallion that (deservedly) gets a 24. That’s ok though… the XC was gnarly enough that we knew this would NOT be a dressage show.
And yes, I messed up this video too by accidentally clicking on an Instagram notification mid-recording. I think one circle is missing. Horsemom fail.
In the afternoon, Trainer got back on for stadium and almost immediately tossed me her whip. Henny was plenty fit and excited and ready to jump, thank you!
They went in and laid down an awesome trip, definitely the best stadium trip I saw all day. Some of the turns were tight and tricky but Henry was just looky enough to jump really well, while also staying very rideable. It really couldn’t have been better. He loves Trainer.
Even better, the double clear moved them up one spot into 6th.
Day 1 was a success, but we were all still sweating bullets about that XC…
We’re officially on our way back to Texas, having left Flagstaff yesterday morning. We overnighted in Clovis, NM again and are now only about 8 hours from home. This was a fantastic trip and I had such a blast, but I’m totally worn out and ready to be home.
So, I’ll start working on the show recaps tomorrow, but hopefully this will hold you over until then… Coconino by the numbers
Likits that Henry consumed – 6
Times I kicked Bobby because he was snoring – at least a dozen
Dead optimum time watch batteries – 2
Tall boot blowouts – 1
PTO days taken – 9
Middle fingers extended in my direction – at least 6 (five from Bobby, one from Trainer when she asked for help to get her hair un-stuck from the truck visor and I took a picture instead)
Jars of Magic Cushion used – 1
Number of times I considered killing the mare in the next barn over who tried to kick her stall down at precisely 2:30 every morning – 5
Big beautiful 100lb bales of hay purchased for and consumed by The Boys – 6
Mornings I woke up freezing to death in the tent because it was FORTY ONE DEGREES – 1
Cookies required to keep Henny still for icing – I dunno, how many are in this pan?
Rocks picked up from the XC course & roads and tracks – eleventy billion
Metric shit tons of Arizona dust inhaled into my lungs – eleventy trillion
Hacks ridden out in some of the prettiest country I’ve ever seen, with equally crazy people – 6
Chef Boyardee/Spaghettios consumed straight from the can – 6
Ribbons brought home – 5
Nosebleeds from the dry, dusty air – 3
Evenings spent consuming adult beverages and just hanging out, chatting with friends (new and old) – at least 5
Grand Canyon souvenirs that I just had to buy – 1
Basically, it was the best adult summer camp EVAR. Until next year, Coconino!