XC DAY, BITCHES!!! Aka the real reason I came. Aka the only reason Henry tolerates the other two phases.
I was really excited about this course as soon as I walked it. This year brought a new course designer, James Atkinson, and I LOVED the way he used the little bit of terrain that this venue has. In Texas we don’t have a lot of hills, but he took advantage of every single one. I absolutely loved it. The fences were overall a bit smaller than in the fall (that course felt like giant fence after giant fence after giant fence) but this one was maybe a little more technical, asked a wider range of questions, and definitely used more terrain. I’m 110% all about that. The course was also running backwards from how we’ve ever run it before, which really made it feel like a whole new venue. The footing was perfect from the rain a few days before, and the weather when we went was upper 60’s. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Fence 1 was your typical first fence, just a plain log. The first 2/3 of the course was the more open area, with a few long gallop stretches thrown in. I knew that the last part of the course would ride a bit slower, so I wanted to come out of the box thinking forward and get a little bit ahead of time in the first half of the course. This is where it’s important to note that I actually FORGOT MY FRIGGIN WATCH (I had a hard time getting one of Henry’s studs in and was running behind, so forgot it in the rush because I dunno, I’m a hot mess of a person in general?) and didn’t even realize it until I was in the start box. I have a pretty good feel for pace by now though, and I had already carefully plotted out the places where I could save some ground. I just kinda shrugged internally and went “Ok, self, challenge accepted!”. I’ve spent a long time working on honing that internal pace tracker, let’s see how good it really is.
Fence two was a simple step table, which came up nicely
And then over to 3, the little mulch-filled table. We basically made a loop around warmup with those first 3, which had proven a little distracting to the lower level horses the day before. I don’t think Henry even noticed though, he’s so focused on finding the next fence.
We rebalanced a bit before 3, jumped it easily, and headed straight ahead to the first terrain question. Fence 4 was a skinny-ish house with a downhill landing (I should have waited for the deep distance here, but apparently there were ants in my pants. Thank goodness for Henny and his quick feet.),
down a hill, then back up a hill and bending around right to another small house at 5. Yep, I like these little terrain questions.
Fence 6 was a trakehner, which caused it’s fair share of problems. After my mistake of not waiting at 4, I got him a little deep here at the trakehner but that seemed like the better choice. I must not have been that concerned about because I didn’t do my nervous “tap tap” whip thing that seems to be my go-to move when I’m freaked out. Just a little clucking.
After that it was off to another terrain question at 7AB, a rolltop,
down the hill, to a small kind of slopey skinny upbank going back uphill. If you jumped the right side there was less slope and the bank itself was teeny. You could also save more ground that way, so that’s what we did.
It was an easy hop up the right side, then we whipped around quickly to the right to get lined up for the open oxer at 8.
Then we headed to my favorite series of fences on course. We had a long slightly downhill gallop to the big red barn table, then had to hang a fairly quick left to the first water. Interesting question. It would be easy to fly past your line to the water if you came in too hot over the table or weren’t able to get a pretty quick half halt on landing. We jumped the table fine and he came back nicely when I landed and half-halted, so I was able to get him lined up for the water easily and allow him to come forward again.
I was excited about this water, because it was a brush fence jumping into the water,
a little house IN the water (this is the first time we’ve had a jump in the water at Training! Finally!)
and then a bending line out of the water to another small house. I dig the combos, and this one rode really well. It was a super fun line.
Then we had a long gallop back up and around to the ditch wall with a steep downhill landing. Henry got a little distracted before this one, passing a bunch of people on the left and a little covered seating area on the right. You also really cannot see the landing AT ALL since the ground falls away really fast on the landing side, so I really had to put my leg on and ride all the way down to it, but he hopped over it fine. Tellin’ ya, love these terrain questions.
From there you had to roll back up the hill to get to the second water, so it was important to not get sucked too far down the hill and end up wasting time having to gallop all the way back up again. We managed a decently handy turn back up the side of the hill (thank you, hind studs), galloping back up a little bit before rebalancing again for the jump into the water. I took too much of a pull here and jumped weak into the water, but Henny handled it fine. I landed kicking and we jumped out much better. This water was simple (which is probably why I rode it worse, I always do that crap), just a hanging log in
and a slightly angled brush fence out.
Then there was a plain little table
down to the Corral. We had to enter through the “gate” opening with an overhang, make a right, jump a downhill rolltop
keep going down the hill, and hang a left to a corner at the bottom. I asked him to switch to his right lead before we got to the corral, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it as we went in and turned to the rolltop. That one came up great… then around the tree and down the hill we went to the corner. This fence was directly facing the highway beyond, so I thought it might ride a little looky. I definitely felt a tiny bit of distraction when we turned to it, but not enough to pull Henry’s attention away from his job.
From there we went over the creek crossing to the last fence, a table. When you came off the creek crossing there was an Intermediate roll top right there that we had to go around, and for a split second Henry really thought he was supposed to jump it. For that same split second I really thought he was going to. Luckily a little left spur convinced him to go around it instead, and we looped past their fence to hop over our last table and through the finish.
A few clips my trainer got:
And HELMET CAM! At least I remembered this, even if I forgot my watch. Maybe next time I’ll clean the lens.
There were a couple fences where I definitely rode like a monkey, but Henry was great the whole way around. He really is such a fun cross country horse, it makes the other two mediocre phases 100% worth it. I don’t care about ribbons, I care about learning to ride. He’s teaching me a lot, and he’s super safe, so it’s just such a blast.
When we crossed the finish I felt 90% confident that we were good on time. I thought I’d kept my average speed pretty darn close to the designated 450mpm, and I followed the exact track I had planned out to save myself enough ground to where I thought I had some breathing room. Not gonna lie, I was pretty damn proud of myself when they posted scores and I ended up being 7 seconds under Optimum Time. Not bad for no watch! Double clear!
Henry wasn’t even breathing hard by the time we were done (I sure was, so much damn pollen in the air I can’t even breathe out of both nostrils) and wasn’t sweaty enough to warrant a rinse. By that I mean he wasn’t sweaty at all. He was looking around like “that’s it?”. So, the horse is plenty fit, too.
Overall I was pretty happy with the run. I think I sat up and rode in the places where he needed some support, and as usual I think he stepped up and covered for me in the places where I goofed. Teamwork… it really does make the dream work.
35 thoughts on “Texas Rose Spring HT Part 2: The Fun Part”
WOOHHOO Thanks Kate Boggan great pics!! yay.
Forgetting your watch. Sure didn’t matter did it?? HA
Really a great run. Henry says that is it/? What a good horse.
Looked like a great course. So glad it rode well and you guys had fun!!
What is the next one??
I honestly don’t know when the next one will be. Having two horses will really annihilate my show budget, so things might be few and far between from here on out. I really really wish we had more schooling shows!
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Omg I love the gifs! Plus early morning xc walk jump photos are soooo pretty! Sounds like an amazing run for you guys. Training is coming easy!
Training is definitely easy for Henry. His rider needs a lot more polish, but the horse has it covered pretty well. 😉
I love that his ears are forward THE WHOLE TIME! It’s so fun to have a horse who loves his job! Congrats on a good weekend!
His whole personality is totally different after XC too. Most of the time he’s kind of the grump who lives in the back of his stall and wants to be left alone, but after XC he always has his head out, ears up, looking at what’s going on. It makes him happy.
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What a fantastic adventure! Thanks for such a great recap. Congratulations on a spectacular round and sharing the fun.
I do love his face on crosscountry. It’s like half squirrel/half horse. And I love that “I don’t care about ribbons, I care about learning to ride”. I’m gonna need to keep that in mind when I’m showing this summer.
I mean… sometimes you get ribbons you don’t deserve, and other times you really deserve one but don’t get one. They’re fun to get, but they don’t really mean all that much in the long run. Learning, however… that carries through!
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what a ride – Henny is such a star and that course looks like soooooo much fun, esp with the neat combinations and use of terrain!! i literally cannot wait for the day when our own courses get more interesting than single jump after single jump haha. congrats on nailing the optimum time too!
It was so fun! It felt very level-appropriate, with a few good questions. Love James as a course designer, he did well with Coconino too.
Go Henny Go! What a 🌟
He totally is. When it suits him, anyway. Like for XC.
I cannot get over his ears! Like antennae searching for the next jump but also always focused on you as well!
Love the helmet cam vid, you can really see him pulling towards the next fence….and at the finish line he was ready to go again.
One teensy question – did he make contact with the second to last jump? I thought I heard something on your helmet cam vid….
Also: thank you, Kate Boggan, for so many awesome photos!
Yeah he whacked that one! I think he was paying too much attention to the highway.
Yay! What a great xc ride. You got some great pro pics, too!
Thanks! It was awesome having Kate there for pics.
I love his ears when he locks onto a fence – he’s like “that one is MINE” lol. He’s definitely ready to keep going! Such a star XC pony!
As long as he locks onto the right one!
Yay! Looks like you both had great day! It’s so fun to watch Henry out there. It’s so obvious how much he loves that job. Congrats on a great day!
It’s even more fun to ride than it is to watch! 😉
I’d need a special exception to wear brown breeches…
you can actually wear whatever color breeches you want… so it’ll be perfect.
that looks like an obscene amount of fun – thanks for all the detail so I could do a vicarious training level run 😀
Seriously, a very obscene amount of fun. I dunno why anyone wouldn’t want to event!
HENNY GO FAST! HENNY BE CUTE! HENNY THE WINNER OF THE WORLD!
Or, I figure that’s what was going through his head?
The photos are LOVELY. Y’all look like you’re having a blast out there.
That seems pretty accurate with how it feels.
Henry just looks so damn HAPPY in all your XC pictures ever. It warms the heart.
The only two times Henry is truly happy: when he’s eating, and when he’s running XC.
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What a fun ride! Henry makes the cutest faces.
Question: what would have been the repercussion had you jumped that Intermediate roll top fence after the creek crossing? Time wasted? Penalty points? Extra fun for the Super Derp XC Jump Eating Monster Henny?
You’d most likely get a DR penalty but the ground jury would technically be within their rights to eliminate you or give you a yellow/red card as well, if they wanted.
Yeah, none of that sounds like a happy ending. Good boy, Henny. Listen to the spur.
6 and 7 are some serious fences mate. Congratulations!!!!!!! what a great achievement
ahh LOVE me some helmet cams 😍 … somedayyy hopefully!
also cool that your pacing has gotten so on point – when I was running consistently I got to where I was pretty dang accurate and it always made me feel like a badass haha.