I know y’all loved that cliffhanger yesterday. Trying to fit all 3 phases into one post is a lot and honestly I don’t have a lot of other blog fodder right now, so sorrynotsorry. Plus, ya know, I had to wait a day between stadium and XC too when all this was going down… fair is fair.
The good news is that Presto was the 2nd ride time of the day on Sunday, set to leave the start box at 8:02. THANK THE LAWD. If he went late in the afternoon I’d have had a stroke for sure. The other bonus is that Megan handed her phone off to her mom, who gave me a few live updates. I love Megan’s mom, she’s the best.
Anyway, River Glen is known for having fairly inviting cross country courses, it tends to be on the smaller/easier side. Especially compared to Chatt, which was a monster for both size and technicality. River Glen does have a lot more terrain though, definitely more hills than Presto has ever seen in his entire life (there was a really big hill that he had to go up and down between fences 12 and 14), so that was a good “new” element that he hasn’t really had to contend with much before. Megan’s impressions of the course for Presto were that everything was quite small and straightforward, the only two things that warranted much consideration in her mind were 1) fence 8 – a little wagon jumping out of an arena, with quite a decent drop on the backside of it 2) fence 11 – the ditch that was literally just a rando ditch all by itself in the middle of the field. Those were mostly just possible spook-factor type fences because they were a bit unexpected, otherwise she said it was table after table (you can tab through the whole XC course here).
Right around 7:45 Megan’s mom “signed in” and texted me to let me know they were in warmup, being serenaded by live bagpipers to open up the show day. Add that to the new-experiences-for-Presto column. The bagpipers completed their musical number with Amazing Grace… maybe not the best pump up XC song but it’ll do. Then she was out of the box and away they went.
And, true to form, it was a pretty easy hop around. Presto took a little peek at a house set back in the trees at 5 (not sure what he thought he saw there that gave him a millisecond pause) but otherwise wasn’t too impressed. If anything he was maybe a little YEEHAW about the whole thing, Megan said he threw in a twisty little buck/leap over the ditch (he thought it was boring and chose to make it more exciting, I guess) and on the video you can see a very enthusiastic WHEEEEEE into the water. Megan’s mom reported that he cruised home easily, looked amazing, and barely broke a sweat. And he was quite proud of himself too, as usual. Cross country is his jam.
When you think about what we ask these horses to do on cross country – gallop over unfamiliar terrain, jumping things they’ve never seen before and sometimes don’t get their eye on until the last second, sometimes not knowing where they’re gonna land until they’re in the air, jumping out of arenas or up and down hills and into dark bodies of water… it really impresses me that Presto is so young and so new to this yet still so freakin bold and game no matter what we throw at him. He seems to love the challenge of never quite knowing what’s coming but attacking it with gusto anyway. A lot of horses would be intimidated by that, but he seems to thrive off it. You can see his little brain constantly thinking and figuring things out on the fly, and he’s always asking what’s next. Henry is probably the most brave jumper I’ve ever had and even he was not that confident and bold in the beginning.
Presto cantered across the finish well within the time allowed, 30 seconds to spare. His gallop is definitely getting better and more ground-covering with every run, to the point now where he has to be asked to dial it back a bit rather than just cantering around within himself. The hills didn’t seem to throw him off at all either. That’s a good thing for the future!
A friend of mine that was there was able to get some video of him in various spots around the course (thank you Francesca!):
Once he finished I was still hitting refresh on the live scores every 5 minutes, waiting for the results to get entered and then become official. It’s never a done deal until it’s right there in black and white, ya know? But finally they updated the scores, and Presto finished in 2nd place! Another red ribbon for the kiddo. All he had to do at this show was complete the event in order to finish out his AEC completion qualifications, but he did in style, earning another AEC-qualifying placing at the same time. And Megan’s sale horse Rocky won the division, so it was a nice little 1-2 sweep for the Novice horses.
With that, Presto has signed his entry for AEC. I’m not sure that he’d be competitive with some of the extremely fancy heavy hitters in the Novice Horse division, but I don’t care, he’s more than earned his spot. Of course, there’s quite a long wait list for AEC now so… we sent the entry, but we’ll see whether or not we actually get in. Sigh. Not much we can do but wait and see.
I already got my plane ticket because you can bet your ass that if we do get in I WILL be attending his first Championship. Now we just have to 1) keep him bubble-wrapped for the next few weeks and knock on wood that he doesn’t do any kind of dumb horse thing to himself in the meantime. 2) wait and see whether or not we actually get to go. Cross all your crossables! It sure would be fun to be able to cap off his first eventing season with a trip to Kentucky…