Thursday afternoon we headed to Carolina Horse Park for the final HT of the season. It’s already a very popular show, but since it was the last one of the year, they were also running the championship divisions in addition to the regular HT, so that made for approximately 350 entries.
Since the weather was going to be in the 20’s at night and 40’s during the day, I had to pull this little guy out of my library at home to, ya know, stay alive.
And added curtains and lights!
Friday was the schooling day. For a whopping $125, you can school all phases as many times as you want. The only other time I’ve been to CHP, I was in the BN division and the schooling was the stuff of nightmares. I opted for the 2’3″ division to get us off the main course and that turned out to be the best decision ever. Because OMG, SO MANY HORSES.
Trainer B was there as well, with some horses there just to school and also riding one in BN for a client. And that made for a seriously successful schooling. I got my usual, “Go faster than you want to” instructions, and had zero stops in our 2’3″ SJ schooling round. Then we went out to XC with another client on her horse (the one Trainer B was riding in the competition), and Trainer B on his young OTTB. Both of the other horses were super nervous, where P was acting like an old, reliable pro. So Trainer B had P lead the other 2 horses around the tiny XC course, and again, zero stops. So then we went to our course with us leading again, and once more, he jumped every single thing.
The horses got a break, and then we headed to the main arena to school the BN SJ course. For some reason, even though we routinely school BN+ height with Trainer B, these just seemed intimidating for some reason. Maybe it was because there were a ton of people watching. Maybe it was because the last time I was in that arena, I face planted in the dirt.
Then Trainer B came in after me on his client’s horse and put my round to shame. But I was still thrilled.
On Saturday my dressage time wasn’t until 12:30 so I had all morning to drill into my head that I needed to halt on the first centerline at X. I’ve done Intro C once before and I despise it; it’s a terrible test for P, but we were really there for the jumping anyway. He warmed up super soft, relaxed, bendy, and engaged, and we had a great, uh, first few movements until I went to ask for the first canter and at the same time, a nearby stuck tractor let out a loud boom and P went, “Baiiiiiii.”
We stayed in the arena, though, which was no easy feat, but alas, my relaxed horse was gone. He did his best to hold it together, and while, blah to the 36.5 we scored, I at least scored higher than my horse in the collective marks. Take that, P. That put us in 5th place out of 20.
About an hour and a half later, we headed to SJ and while yeah, P had schooled most of these jumps the day before without issue, there are never any guarantees with this horse.
But we pulled it off! That made 2 full days with NO STOPS. And we moved up to 4th.
Sunday I pulled P out in the morning for a light lunge, which I always do 1-2x/day each day he’s stalled. When I sent him around, he looked a little stiff behind, but as he went on, seemed to work out of whatever it was. There were no lame steps, and it was FREEZING, so I left it at that. I got on at 10:15 for my 10:40 start time, and headed to warm up with Trainer B. P warmed up great on the flat, then started cutting turns to the right when we started jumping. Trainer B observed he looked a little sore in his hind end, which could be causing him to drop his shoulder like that. He did a lot more than usual the last couple days so it wouldn’t be surprising. I decided to start XC and if he felt off, I’d pull up.
He started great, albeit steering wasn’t all that great. My biggest concern was the 5AB combination, but it turned out to be jump 6 that did us in. For NO REASON. Seriously. Usually I know what went wrong, but not this time. We were straight, he was on pace…I really thought he’d jump. Trainer B saw it and doesn’t know either. So. Sigh. But the rest of it was fine though he went into freight train mode when I tried to get him to trot down the hill from 6 to 7 because the footing was super torn up and there were roots everywhere. Sorry for trying to keep you sound. Won’t do it again. Anyway, the stop dropped us to 10th instead of moving us up to 3rd like we would’ve if we’d gone clear. Boo.
So we come through the finish, I let P out on a loose rein, pat him and all of a sudden he decides that a motor bike is super scary and TAKES OFF. I can’t believe I stayed on, but seriously dude, WTF?
And then he literally stood in his stall with his head in the back corner for the next hour or so until we left the show grounds. Not sure what that’s about, but he seemed very down, or at least the horse version of it. Maybe I shouldn’t have run XC, but I don’t know. While yeah, he stopped at one jump, the rest of them he was attacking the same way he did at Windridge. So I’m a little confuzzled right now.
I also could be way overthinking it. Horse had a dressage lesson Tuesday, Trainer B rode him on Wednesday, then he spent Thursday-Sunday at a horse show. I know I was exhausted when I got home. But either way, he’s going to get the next couple days off and we’ll regroup with Trainer B on Thursday. No more horse trials this year, and we’ve only got 3 more weeks before Trainer B heads off to FL until MARCH. He’s thinking he’ll be back one weekend a month BUT IT WON’T BE THE SAME.
- This was probably my favorite show weekend ever. Usually I’m alone, with sometimes Husband and kids coming. This weekend I had an amazing support team. Trainer B, Trainer B’s wife, client, client’s mom (also the owner of Trainer B’s farm), and one of their friends. It was so much fun stabling with them (especially when owner’s mom brought donuts), going out to dinner with them each night, being able to cheer on Trainer B (who naturally swept the division) and the owner of the horse he was riding, and getting that back as well. Not to mention the help from Trainer B on the spot was invaluable. And of course, Husband, with the kids in tow, drove 4 hours round trip on Saturday to be there. Because Best Husband Ever.
- Yes, my horse stopped at one jump. And it was terrible timing- during the competition, really? BUT. This is a horse where, not so long ago, stopping used to be the rule, not the exception. Over the course of 3 days, P jumped dozens of fences between warmup jumps, schooling, and courses, all fences that were new to him and he stopped ONCE. So, for this weekend at least, stopping was the exception. I’ll take that.
- Always camp next to someone with an LQ trailer. I had set up my pop up shower outside my trailer, but due to freezing temps definitely was NOT going to take a shower. No way. Dry shampoo + hat all the way. But the people next to me took pity (or maybe they could smell me) and offered me their shower. And it was the best shower ever.
- Quick hilarious story: I had P tacked up for XC and we were standing outside his stall while I got my gloves and helmet on and a girl walks up and says, “Are you the girl from the Kastel video?”