The day started off on a sour note. Somehow I managed to get a bee in my shoe. I thought I had stepped on a nail but turns out I got stung. Good thing is now I know I'm not allergic to bees! Bad thing is holy bejeezuz did getting stung on the bottom of my toe hurt. Between my ankle giving me fits and the sting on the other foot I hobbled around like a crippled goat.
After that we got the horses loaded and were off to Red Deer. We got there only to find out the times had been pushed back by 30 minutes. Which turned out to be good since our coach was running behind. When she got there we headed out to walk the course. Considering the week before Beaumont had felt small and short, this one felt big and long and both were designed by Barry Tyerman. There were a few fences that I had some concerns about but figured the mare likes them bigger anyways.
Fence 1 was a max height ramped oxer with a short gallop to something that was apparently forgettable... 3 was a big, dark roll top with only a couple strides until we went down a steep hill and winding track through the trees. 4 was a vertical grey wall with 8 strtides to a natural table. Then a long gallop back up a hill to a brand new light coloured thing. Long gallop to a tan and brown box then a right turn into the infield. The first fence in the infield was an unassuming vertical with a black picket (this becomes important later). Then through the water (wasn't flagged but made a nicer line) and a left turn to a vertical 2 stride. A tight left run to an oxer that was between the two stride and then a short gallop out of the infield to a BIG rampy fence. 12 was up the bank and then the final fence was a big square oxer.
|In the picture it looks small but it walked BIG!|
In the start box I was crazy nervous so I cracked some terrible jokes with the timers. Before I knew it we were off. She had a single moment of hesitation coming to the oxer but I growled and we got over it (and then I sat down early and we pulled the back rail). Fence 2 was no issue (since I can't even remember what it looked like) and and fence 3 we had a run out to the right (which never happens for us). I represented and we sailed over. She wasn't sure about the footing so we picked our way down the hill and trotted through the woods. I cut the corner to fence 4 and she just stalled out. On our second attempt it was clear sailing and she didn't even look at the table. If she could have squealed and galloped at the same time I"m sure she would have going up the hill. I think it was her favourite part.
A run-out to the left (I wasn't sure she was going to jump and she took that as instruction, bad rider!) at fence 6 but success at try # 2. I let her move out on the gallop which turned out to be very hard to bring her back from but she jumped 7 smooth as silk. The unassuming vertical brought me a refusal. And then she leaped into the water! We were crooked though the 2 stride but managed to survive. The oxer was easy peasy. I actually brought her to a walk just out of the infield because she was pulling on me so much. We then picked up a lovely canter and she jumped the big ramp like a pro. Up the bank and we finished strong over the oxer.
So if you're skimming, we picked up 4 stops, were only 25 seconds over time (1875 m and 5:21 was optimum) but I stayed on!
Our second ride was much better. The whole course rode super smooth and easy with her taking fences out of a nice gallop, coming back better and it just generally felt like a fabulous x-country round. That is until that stupid vertical. She ducked left, despite the growling and whip application and I nearly came off. I grabbed my holy shit strap and managed to stay on. I also may or may not have fit pumped I was so excited. Again she jumped it on the second try and pulled a rail but at least she cantered into the water like a solid citizen. I lost my reins over the first fence in the 2 stride and just squeezed my legs and grabbed my neck strap. I was very proud of her for saving my butt there. The rest of the course was great. I trotted some since we were quick and we finished only 12 seconds fast.
The second ride gives me hope that there is cross country horse in there. We may not have taken a placing but I was happy with our day. Now to just figure out how to jump the fences on the first try every time.