Coconino week 1 – cross country

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.

at least we found beer in an Intermediate fence on the course walk

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.

pony got hops

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.

I promised him a shit ton of cookies for a clear round

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.

delicious tree

Then it was my turn. On to week 2 – the 3Day!

70 thoughts on “Coconino week 1 – cross country

  1. Jesus, Henny is a freakin BAMF. Like, seriously.
    This course would have me pooping my pants too, and I’m just looking at these pictures! I LOVE Henny’s XC ears and it’s so awesome to see that he truly loves his job. He answered all of the course questions like a total pro, you must be so proud of him! Go Henny Go! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a hunter princess, and my horse is a Hunter Princess (even though he’s a he), so this is SO impressive to me! Congrats! How gratifying to have your hard work pay off so well!


  3. Holy sweet baby Jeezus. I used to compete Training and I swear the courses I jumped around weren’t anything like that. It looks like it should be the AEC Championship course! Congrads on a double clear!


  4. I shit a brick reading that. I’m not sure I want to jump things that appear the be the size of some studio apartments??? Jesus. I can’t wait to watch this bad assery in action in LA.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. YEAH HENNY! Okay, that helmet cam was amazing! I love trainer!

    But lets be honest, the TRUE star here is Bobby. Call Vogue. His modeling skills are the best thing I’ve seen all week. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought so too, I was wondering how anyone could pay attention to the course with my natural modeling ability just shining in their faces.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. hahaha what that was the most intense training course ive ever seen.

    fence 14 is ridiculous, maybe not even bc of the size but the placement. and that is the most ridiculous corner i’ve seen on a training course.

    the bogey for me would’ve been the halfish up bank. I wouldve cracked my teeth ‘landing’ from that.

    you should be really proud of henry. and like, possibly planning his move up to prelim bc wtf are they gonna do that you didn’t just see on that course.


    1. I was thinking the same thing. One of my students is schooling Prelim right now (I only lesson her on the Stadium part- she has different XC and Dressage trainers) on a Warmblood who has much less jumping talent than Henry. They have to work hard on the stuff Hen just does naturally. I think he will eat that level up before too long here. Keep him sound, happy and confident like this and the sky is the limit.


  7. I definitely was looking at your course walk photos and thinking, “… I don’t understand? What do they expect you to do on this course? You couldn’t possibly JUMP THOSE.” I have never seen a horse enjoy cross country like Henny does! Such a pleasure to watch. Congrats to you guys for a successful event!


  8. Good Job Henny! As a Eventer I personally think that course looks fun. But three waters wow we are lucky to have a one puddle to splash in here in the Maritime Canada. I did however wonder how the shadows would affect them. Loved Bobby’s Modeling at Each fence. I used Bobby’s technique of not really looking at the height of fences when walking the stadium. 😛


    1. It really makes all the difference in the world, I wasn’t worried about that table/Skyscraper because I didn’t walk up to it, was one of the smoothest jumps on my course!


  9. Love the way you write up this course. The commentary made me read through it, which I rarely do when it’s just xc photos. 🙂

    That course is kind of ridiculous. So many complex questions! Really a test that he rose to answer! Good pony!


  10. I hope whoever was snapping away on their camera at that table got something good! I can’t even imagine playing owner for course like that. What a cool dude for making it look easy, and I know I already said it on yesterday’s but Henry and your trainer really do work together so well.


  11. I bow down to both Henry and your trainer. Holy crap, that course was intense! And Henry was all, weeeee jumping!!! So awesome. Thanks for sharing with all of us in blog land!


  12. Man there is something wrong with your horse. And your trainer! Those jumps are terrifying and he had his ears pricked forward the entire time. Goof grief, they’re both mad and talented. I enjoyed your trainer’s comments, especially what I’m fairly certain was an f-bomb at the end haha.


  13. Some of those fences made me want to pee a little, like OMG!! That is the toughest training I’ve ever seen…more like a baby Prelim. Freaking kudos to Henny and trainer!! He ate that up. GAH that corner….


    1. I pulled up the Prelim we’re aiming him at in December and aside from one combination (and the jumps being overall a few inches bigger) it looks friendlier than this Training did!


  14. so wow. that was most certainly *not* a course of a bunch of single fences. holy crap. i can’t decide which freak me out the most (those upright skinnies at 6ab look… oddly menacing?) but am 100% on board with Bobby’s assessment of “don’t get too close on the walk.” congratulations to Henny on his debut!! eager to read all up on the 3DE (tho obvi i stalked but still need details!!)


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