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.

 

Poplar Place Farm May HT – XC

We had moved up to third after Stadium so you better believe I was determined not to get any silly time penalties for XC. Thankfully, I wasn’t worried about any runouts as long as I stayed focused. The course was a little weird but not particularly difficult. There were, however, a lot of faux baby keyholes and light/dark questions. Since Gus is usually very willing and we had just had our best stadium round the day before, I was feeling confident.

As long as I didn’t come in over time that is… because the way I walked the course, I was definitely going to come in over OT if I rode at the posted speed of 325. No bueno.

So what is a girl and her OTTB to do? Well, up the speed of course! Lol. I had all my minute markers mapped out and knew that I had to get a time over 5 minutes but under 6. That shouldn’t be too difficult on an ex-racehorse. And it wasn’t, the course ran fast!

I met my first three minute markers perfectly. We came out of the start box a little heated so the first fence was less than pretty but worked. Then came the coal box which we’ve jumped a million times before but Gus was not focusing so it surprised him. Again, no issue but at least it got his head out from his chest and we moved on to the third fence (a “double” coop between trees) and jumped it beautifully. That’s when the first minute marker rang right on time as we swung around to fence four a simple log into the woods.

Fence 1

The path to fence five from four was weird. We had to swing wide out of the woods and then back in. I actually rode my line completely wrong and almost missed the fence. Thankfully Gus didn’t think twice about the full sized house (complete with squirrels) and we went cantering into the woods. Our second minute marker was supposed to ring after a quick jaunt through the woods and right before we jumped fence six out of the woods and we hit it perfectly (and the fence out… though Gus did spook at the jump judge).

Fence 2

It was then time for the little squid jump and the weirdest BN water crossing I have ever seen. You could have ridden the water in this case without ever going into it. The quickest line was to actually ride as close to the left flag as possible and immediately make a 90 degree turn around it. So silly. I rode hard into the water and did a roll back. I didn’t want to risk missing the flag and we need the water practice. It still rode weird but whatever, sometimes you have to go with it.

Still doing well on time, we jumped a semi related distance of a lattice vertical and a table. Between those was our third minute marker. So far, so good but that’s where my luck ran out. Not with Gus being a superstar though.

Fence 3

The next fence was a “squeeze” and you had the choice of two different skinnies between three trees. I ended up taking the one on the left just because it felt better but I had no really reason for saying that. Either way, despite the squeeze and the dark, Gus didn’t even hesitate. I was still trying to be cognoscente of my time and took a wide swing around to the up bank combo but then I got confused and thought I was behind time and let Gus go a little bit faster to the mushrooms which was fence 13. We were still flying after that fence and as we came down the hill. That’s when I looked at my watch and went “oh crap, we’re going to get speed faults.”

Fence 14

We slowed down to a reasonable pace to jump a really pretty table (seriously, why do I ride like crap when I know my husband is photographing that fence?!) but took the inside turn to a little tiny log on top of a hill and had the worst jump of the day. Ugh. Then I knew we were going to need some forward momentum to get to fence 16 and it was indeed the only fence that Gus slightly hesitated at. I can’t blame him, it was a weird one and was supposed to be jumped at a bit of an angle.

Fence 16

We only had one fence left before the finish and I was under 5 minutes. Cue the major slow down. I think we were barely cantering and, as a consequence, barely popped over the last fence. But you know what? We came in at just over 5 minutes. No speed faults and under optimum time. Lol.

I was so happy when we crossed the finish line. While it definitely wasn’t as pretty of a course as Sporting Days, I felt like Gus had been a lot braver. So in that sense, it was a better course. Gus and I keep getting better each time we go out and our confidence keeps improving as well.

In the end, we did get our third place and I couldn’t be happier. Not only did we qualify for the AECs (which we’re not going to) we also qualified for Area III Champ Shows (going to but not competing in the champ division). That is two major goals on my list and it happened in our first two shows.

 

Sporting Days HT April 2017 XC

Unlike stadium warm-up, XC warm-up was on point. It probably helped that I was coming directly from stadium and rode tough from the very beginning…  but Gus also really likes XC. Whatevs, I’ll take it.

And I also won’t bother you with a lot of text. Let’s just leave it at Gus being a rock star.

The fences seriously looked so so tiny. Even when we were driving into the farm, I was like “NICE!” I can’t remember a time when xc fences ever looked small to me. Let’s keep this feeling. Makes life easier.

I was slightly worried about the bank due to the fact that Gus has not had a lot of experience with them. I shouldn’t have worried. He was fine.

The only place we had a slight problem with was the water. Gus is still not a fan of going into it and I had to kick him into it.

 

I’ve got 99 problems but a ditch aint one. Thank God.

We were flying around course and I actually had to slow down during the sections that my trainer told me I could open up and let him find his stride. I know we don’t need to go speeding around at beginner novice but I was just riding Gus at his normal canter and I would have come in with speed faults if we hadn’t trotted one section. As it was, I only came in about 30 seconds below optimum time so that was good.

Gus was a tired but happy pony after XC. And I loved watching the helmet camera. I may have sounded like an idiot until I found my own stride but Gus wasn’t even listening to my rambling anyway. Happy forward ears the entire way around.

Even with the rail down, we ended in fifth place and even snagged the Reserve High Point TIP award. YAY Gus! It’s not often I get two ribbons at an event. We could have been in forth had we not had the rail but such is life.

I can’t wait to do this all again at Poplar in just a little more than a week!