Sunday, February 15, 2015

FCHP Part 4: Cross country

The vet re-checked Danny today and says he should be back to normal in 3-5 days, so that's good news! I was pretty worried about him. 

I took Bert for a hefty handwalk before tacking him up today - not because it actually warmed him up but because it made me feel a bit better when he turned into prancy-monster out in the warm up ring. We trotted at an incredibly fast pace for a few laps of the warm up, cantered a bit, and by then he was already frothing with sweat. This horse has a real level of excitement for jumps. However he took everything I pointed him at and the only thing that made him wiggly was a stadium oxer.

Then we went over to the start box, I stuffed him in, and out we trotted. His canter started out really sucked back and hollow, but since he doesn't have experience out in the field I rode with a very strong lower leg and a super tight back. He took off probably a stride and a half out, but hey, he took it!

Fence 1 in among all the others (mine's the yellow flowers)
Fence 2, the green one
The approach around to the second one was a slightly curved line, but it was at this point that Bert first started to sense what was going on. He was already crazy excited, but here he started to stretch out and go for it a little more. We also took this one about a stride too early because of how much I was pushing him forward. I find if you give the horse no room to be silly, they sort of submit to it all and settle in.

I actually managed to sit him back for 3 a little bit, resulting in probably the most appropriately paced jump on course.

Bert thought this jump seemed really big (probably because it was one of the biggest jumps in our course) and so he tried to back off a little, but there wasn't anywhere to go between the fence and the hill.

Now, if you'll glance at the course map, you'll see that there is a strange line between 4 and 5. I basically had to dart right after landing off 4 and then hang a gradual loop back left to hit 5. We were coming down hill and Bert hadn't yet rebalanced for the downhill so my driving aids had to come back into effect. E could apparently hear me growl "NO" at him when he tried to stop cantering.

6 rode really nicely! But this was another one with a horrible line, so immediately after landing I had to turn sharply to the right to approach our first water combo.

When trotting through the water you kinda had to avoid the prelim jump in there, but first I had to get Bert into the water. He sort of skittered sideways into those trees before finally getting into the water, but then he started staring at the big jump as if we needed to take it. He cantered out of the water nicely and popped right over 7.

You had to rollback left to get to 8, and Bert wasn't a fan of the shadows but I doubt you could tell. He was a huge fan of this whole running and jumping thing.

There were two approaches up to 9, one set you up totally straight and square to it and the other was shorter. There was a long canter stretch up to it and by the time I started climbing the hill I knew I wasn't going to have any trouble getting over it even though I had thought the contrast might be slightly spookier for him.

10 was the jump I was most worried about (after the start box, believe it or not) just because I'm almost certain he's never jumped a ditch in his life. But we had zero issues and he got some enthusiastic scratches and "good boy!"s for clearing it. However, as I let go of some rein to scratch him, we did accelerate somewhat alarmingly forward.

11 was pretty skinny, and Bert tried to drift a little to the left but since we were already turning right immediately after it, I had the aids ready to keep him straight.

We stopped before entering the water again to have a brief discussion over whether he really needed to get his hooves wet, but then we went out over 12 really well.

I neglected to photograph fences 13-15, but I did order the video of my ride so I'll post that when I get it.

When I came out over 12, I'd officially jumped everything I was concerned about. 13 had a great approach, and 14 & 15 were just easy to canter up to. It was after fence 12 as I rounded the corner for 13 that I thought, "holy sh** we're going really bloody fast." I thought about trotting a bit, or circling, or something to slow us down, but I also was so focused on just getting both Bert and myself off the course alive that I didn't do either for fear of a refusal if we were at the trot or forgetting where I was if I circled.

So when I crested the hill and started down to 14, it was surprising to see that the rider ahead of me was not that far ahead of me. She and I crossed the finish line very close to one another.

Bert and I jumped clean, although I got 2 time faults for coming in 5 seconds too fast.

Photo of a photo! but look how happy he is

Also here's the zebra jump I promised you a photo of
We finished 7th overall and somehow earned a ribbon! (Oh you 'magnificent' beast)


  1. congratulations!!!!!!!! what an awesome outing, and way to go Bert - sounds like he LOVED it out there haha! can't wait to see the video! and glad Danny's eye should heal up soon too :)

    1. Thanks so much! It was a total blast and I'm surprised/happy/proud/shocked at how well Bert took to the whole thing.