Still no pro photos. Super glad I paid that rush fee for nothing. GIF’s it is!
When we left off on yesterday’s recap I said that I had a feeling that the XC would definitely have an impact on the placings. Reason being – it was a pretty legit Novice. Nothing super big of course, being Novice, but there were definitely a few technical combinations that weren’t so simple. I didn’t get pics of the first two fences (a simple rolltop thing and a simple house thing) or the last fence (run of the mill hanging log) but I got most of it.
What’s kind of funny is that originally I thought one of the perks of Presto doing the YEH class on Friday was that he’d get to see the water before the actual horse trial. Sometimes he’s still just a little careful/looky at water so I was like “hey if nothing else comes from the YEH class at least he will have gotten to see the water!”. Ha. Hahahaha. Only problem with that logic is that the YEH class used one water complex and the Novice XC used an entirely different water complex. Because of course it did.
Walking the course there were only two things I thought might potentially be tough – the coffin combo at 7, and the water at 10. At the first week’s show the coffin caused mass chaos and total carnage, and while Presto has schooled ditches, neither of his first two shows had one on course. Not only was he meeting a ditch for the first time in competition, but he was meeting it in kind of a tough question – the ditch was skinny across but quite wide, and had a boat on an angle one or two strides away (depending on where/how you jumped it). I thought that was quite a stout question for Novice.
The water was dark and kind of hard to see until you got right up on it (it’s shaped weird), and it had a jump just a few strides before it and a few strides after it. Megan wasn’t worried (she’s never worried about anything, how do I get some of that?) but since it was only his 3rd show I wasn’t quite sure what he’d think of it.
There was also one more combination that I thought was pretty legit for Novice – a little roll thingy, bending line to a down bank, 4 strides to a sharks tooth. He’s schooled something similar so I didn’t think he’d have an issue with it, but still, definitely a legit question for the level. I’m not sure I’ve seen many Novices that asked more questions than this one did. There was definitely plenty to do out there.
Luckily it’s quickly becoming obvious that XC is Presto’s phase. He was a totally different animal than he was in showjumping warmup, more settled and more focused. He’s still got his patented Presto Swagger of course, but he’s more tuned-in the the job from the second he steps foot in warmup.
The first jump was set quite close to the box, so Megan cantered out and popped quietly over the first one. Presto was very nonchalant about it.
There was a decently long stretch before fence 2, so she revved the motor a bit and picked up the pace, which he was more than happy to do. He pinged right over 2 on a bit of an angle and then made the turn back around to 3 (for some reason a few horses thought that fence 3 was definitely a horse eater, not sure why) with no issue.
Then it was over to the first combination on course, a simple 4 stride line from a wide brushy thing to a sharks tooth with some very bright flowers in it. Presto jumped in a bit bold there so the four was tight, but he was quick and clever with his feet and made it work no problem.
From there they had a loooong gallop out into the back field, which unfortunately we couldn’t see very well. Fence 5 was out of view, but I could see the ditch and boat of the coffin way off in the distance between the trees, which he jumped through without hesitation. Good kiddo. From there he disappeared behind trees again and I was very impatiently waiting for updates from the announcer, since we couldn’t see the water at all. It wasn’t long before he said “here comes Like Magic WTW and Megan Sykes confidently back into the main field” and there they were popping over the stone wall and headed toward the downbank combo. He looked to be cruising along easily.
She jumped the little roll and asked for a big whoa to get him back on his butt and make sure he actually saw the down bank, and he came right back, popping politely down the bank and staying balanced for the four strides to the sharks tooth.
After that it was pretty much home free, with just the big V table and then cruising over the last, coming in with 20 seconds to spare.
When Megan pulled up after the finish she said it was super easy, he didn’t look at anything or even so much as hesitate, he just cantered right around like it was old hat and was quite rideable. She jokingly said “He’s ready for Training!”. (don’t come for me internet people, he’s not actually going to move up to Training, but you understand the sentiment). Double clear like a pro.
As I anticipated, XC did indeed have an impact on the placings, moving Presto back up two spots to finish in second. Without the forgotten-jump-circle in showjumping he would have won by a good 7 point margin, but we’ll still very happily take 2nd at a big venue in Area 3.
I was really super proud of him all weekend. Was he foot perfect? No, but he was pretty damn good for a 4yo who just started eventing a couple months ago, was at his third event, and was at a real legit venue like Chatt. It was a lot to see, a lot to do, a ton of atmosphere, a really long journey, and a big ask, but he stepped up to the plate big time. He proved that he can seriously lay it down in the dressage (I’m still mind-boggled by my 4yo doing a 23), showed improvement in the showjumping, and absolutely ate up a tough XC like it was a fun and delightful second breakfast. For a young horse I think he’s pretty freaking exciting, and I think we’ve got a future XC machine on our hands, which absolutely thrills me. It seems to just make sense to him innately, which is pretty freaking cool to see. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I bred him, and watching him blossom under Megan’s tutelage so far has been a feeling I can’t quite describe. It’s really really really fun.