2017 Tryon Riding & Hunt Club HT – XC

I had just about two hours between dressage and when I had to be on for XC. Two hours to cool down, switch up my gear and get back on. 

Two hours to work myself into a panic. 

As I tacked up Gus, I could feel my stomach tying into knots. My hands were clammy and slipped on the zipper when I pulled on my vest. By the time I made my way to warm up I was shaking and pale and the only reason I wasn’t throwing up was because there was nothing in my stomach. 

I think LT was actually a little worried when she finally saw me. I rode up to her, sucking in deep breaths to try to calm my panic and told her I didn’t think I could do this, that I was having a panic attack. 

We talked for a few minutes but I honestly couldn’t remember what was said and then I started warming up. It was not a good warm up. Gus was fine. I was not. I couldn’t make myself ride boldly and the fences weren’t even that high. Before I knew it, they were calling me on deck and I hadn’t even gone over the oxer. Great. 

I rode back to LT and she said, “Just go out of the start box. Just go over the first fence.” I nodded, my heart in my throat and trotted off. 

The starter counted us down and we came out of the box boldly towards the first fence. And over we went. 

Then we went over fence two. 
Then fence three. 

And all of a sudden, I realized I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was having fun and Gus was having fun. Somehow LT had known. 

Gus flew over the big brush jump without blinking and we soared over the weird horse fence.

And then before I knew it we were through the water and up the hill to the ditch. Gus looked at the ditch so hard he almost didn’t realize we had another fence. But he pulled himself together and gave me a huge leap over it to continue on. 

Gus was flying over these fences like they were little logs on the ground. His ears were pricked and he was having a blast. I was even doing well enough on time that I could open him up and let him gallop through the end of the course.

When we crossed the finish I let out a little whoop of delight and threw my arms around Gus’ neck.  And then I let the tears come. That had, without a doubt, been a test of courage and my emotions were shot. 

Gus didn’t have a care in the world and he strutted back to the barn like he had just won the Kentucky Derby. He didn’t know how hard getting out of the start box had been for me. 

This go around XC taught me more about me and my horse than I had thought possible. It taught me how to find my courage and taught me to trust in Gus. 

And really, I was thrilled I hadn’t packed up my ball and gone home the night before. 

A XC Perspective

It was so awesome to go XC schooling at Poplar. It’s the very first place that Gus and I ran XC at a schooling show. We’ve come a very long way since then. If you’ll remember, I was terrified of a itty bitty little tadpole table. And, okay, they use that table for the BN course all the time but still. It is tiny. Now I see that table out on course and think, what was I scared of?

It’s all perspective, right?

And now that I’ll be running Novice my trainer has to find a way to push my limits and still maintain my confidence. It’s not an easy task but she’s pretty amazing. She has complete faith that Gus and I can do this and that helps give me faith that we can do it too.

For example, once through our warm up there is no easing into higher fences, we start riding the Novice fences right off the bat. It’s almost like she’s not even giving me a chance to over think. Don’t worry. Just do it. And so that’s what I did.

The questions started easy. Single fences, long distances. Slowly we added related distances, tighter turns, more terrain and little courses. I was thrilled that Gus didn’t even peak at the ditch or the drop, even though I was slightly terrified of the later. Each fence and combo under us made me a bit more confident.

A lot of it really is time and the right frame of mind. And, of course, the right horse. Gus is becoming confident too and is much braver than he used to be. He might look at a new or scary jump but he’s also willing now.

So one new fence after another. We’re on our way!

Area III Champs at Chatt Hills – XC

I only have one regret about XC last weekend…. I didn’t turn on my Cambox. *cue tears* I was just so focused and gunned that I completely forgot. Which is a bummer because it was a super cool and fun course and I wanted to share it all with you.

I will say though, that after running XC at Stable View which is maxed out and very well decorated, Chatt looked… small. Not easy. But small. And a bit plain. There were still some technical questions that I thought were appropriate for the level and all with the goal of moving you up and getting you ready for the next level.

My goal for this run was to really ride for time. I didn’t need to of course, but so far I have been coming in way too fast and I want to start working on where I am and how fast I need to be going. I knew all the minute markers and the halfway by heart so I felt pretty good about this. Gus was pretty amped up in warm up and going into the box. So when the volunteer told me “Have a great ride!” I started my watch and walked out. He was not pleased.

This was by far and away our best run ever. Gus was game for everything, rated when asked, and took everything out of stride. He was a little unimpressed but I’ll take it! We hit the first three minute markers right on point and then we got to the water.

Now, Gus was perfect to the water. He jumped “Noah’s Ark” like he’s done it a million times (he has) and powered into the water like a good XC horse. Love him.

We swung out wide to go over the table and then got to the jump before “The Hump.” This was supposed to be my 4 minute marker but we hit it at 3:30. Grrr. The water rode faster than I was expecting. But this was not an area where I wanted to power down so we kept going. The Hump was fun because it was a big mound and a much steeper downside to another fence than I’ve ever asked Gus to tackle. He got to the top of the hill, saw the downside and balked.

I could almost hear him say “are you kidding mom?!” But he trotted down gamely and then cantered out over the little fence. Good boy!

We were able to slow down at that point, and did trot some, to get back almost on our minute markers. Gus did not even bat an eye and rode so well.

I am so so proud of how well Gus did. I think part of it is that he really does like his new bit (I’ll do a post on that later) but most of it is that he actually understands his job and loves it. That’s all I can ask for! I am also really proud of myself because it wasn’t so long ago that I was looking at these BN fences and thinking “holy heck, there is no way” and now I am wanting to jump novice. It is so incredible what a good trainer will do for the confidence.

Chatt Hills Schooling Show XC Pictures

There wasn’t an offical photographer at the Chatt Hills schooling show a few weeks ago but the photographer that was going to be there for the Connemara show the next day actually got some XC pictures! I am so happy that I have a few since my normal photographer wasn’t there to help me out (how dare he ditch me for a bachelor party!).

These were the last few fences on course so by this time we’re both a little tired. Still, I’m happy with the effort even if it seems we got a little too close to the base of the fence. One step at a time right?

Plus I really think my black/white/orange set up for XC is kind of rocking it right now. Classy yet still bold.

Poplar Place Farm May HT – Video Round Up

I wasn’t able to share these two videos with you due to random things so I wanted to make sure I got them up on my blog!

The first is my trainer videoing my stadium course. You can hear her riding the entire thing with me which is so cute.

The second is my helmet camera from XC. It is fun. I love XC.