There was no sleeping in on Saturday. The Open Beginner Novice Division started first thing at 8:00 am in the Derby Field and JLE and Dandy’s ride time was 8:20 am. Luckily Dandy was eager and ready for the day.
The best part about XC is that the getting ready is no where near as intensive as getting ready for dressage or stadium. There are no manes that need to be braided. Just get the horse sparkling clean, shampoo any white legs, Showsheen the tail, put on the hoof polish, and tack him up. I didn’t stick around to watch any of the warm up; I wanted to be where the action was!
Before braiding on Dressage day, N and I had walked the Beginner Novice course. It was so different from anything we’re used to up here in Washington. There were hills! And not just rolling hills like we see at Aspen but actually up and down steep hills that your horse is going to want to go charging at. None of the jumps looked scary to me on the ground so I was confident that Dandy wouldn’t have a problem with them. They also offered two options, a log instead of the water (swung you way out of your way) and a house instead of the ditch.
Eric and I staked out a place near the water jump where we could see the most fences and waited for the show to start. The first horse was actually the leader after dressage (by about four points) and they were not having a good run. They had three refusals (at different jumps) where we could see. And that unfortunately set the tone for the next few riders.
I know these are more skilled riders on their baby horses, for the most part, but I couldn’t believe how many riders chose to take the option or had a refusal at the water and had to swing around to take the option. There was one rider who spent the rest of her allotted time trying to get her horse in the water. She couldn’t kick him in, she couldn’t back him in, he didn’t want to follow another horse and she even got in the way of someone else trying to take the long route over the option. When we finally left after Dandy’s run I heard a jump judge radio in and ask what to do with her. But anyway, I thought water should be one of the first things you ingrained into your baby XC horses. Apparently it’s not.
So after the carnage of the first handful of riders, I was feeling pretty worried. It was early in the morning and the shadows were weird. Maybe Dandy was going to have problems too. Finally he came up the first hill and around the corner into the water complex. No problems with my baby horse, he canter right threw it like the pro he is someday going to be and took JLE confidently over the next jump (the barrels).
You could tell that he was having such a good time. His ears were pricked and locking on to everything she pointed him at. He was so full of himself but JLE didn’t give him time to fool around and got him focused.
Jump 10 was the one I was worried about the most. Not because of the actual jump, it’s just a little rolled table, but because of the approach. You come off the log jump and you have to swerve right into a bunch of trees and really get your line just perfect. There was not room for error and one team in the division actually full on missed the jump.
But as you can see, Dandy had no issues. He didn’t care about the ditch or the bank or anything. He did want to blast up both hills but JLE actually let him on the last as she was running behind, time wise.
Both JLE and I were so proud of him! Dandy was tired and sweaty after his run but you could tell that he was proud of himself too. I think he finally was starting to understand what the whole point of these shows are: to jump XC. And since XC is his all time favorite thing, he’ll put up with the rest.