Well, thanks to the threat of a whopping inch of snow, my CT this weekend was rescheduled for January 6th. Houston, we have a problem.
See, my PLAN had been to do the jumper show at TTC last weekend (completed), the BN CT this past weekend, do a crossfit competition January 6th, THEN head down to Aiken for a schooling HT on January 7th. It was going to be our triumphant debut (4th times a charm, right?) at BN, and I was going to be SO PREPARED, having already done a CT at BN. I’m 100% Type A and I plan everything. And this was going to be great.
But the snow (actually, lack thereof since it melted pretty much the second it hit the ground) messed all that up.
So Friday I was perusing FB and up popped a post from the schooling HT’s organizer saying there was still room for the schooling HT December 10th. Come on. I couldn’t, right?
So I emailed the organizer and asked if I could still enter. She responded right away and said yes, what level?
Welllllll…..I mean, they were running a 2’3″ division also, so that was the obvious choice. Do that for another good experience, and then be all ready to go BN in Jan.
So naturally I typed back, “Beginner Novice,” and hit send as fast as I could.
I mean, it’s not like we were under-prepared. He’s had two good runs at the 2’3″ level, has schooled BN XC successfully, and we just show jumped around 2’6 and 2’9″ last weekend. Why not just see if we could do it? Especially because this was a schooling HT and they specified in the entry form that even if you were eliminated, you could continue on XC. So worst case, we get eliminated and school the course. Best case, uhhh, that doesn’t happen? But either way, it wouldn’t be a complete waste of money.
For those of you newer to my never ending saga, I’ve attempted (sort of) BN three times under a previous trainer. The first time, I walked XC and scratched, blaming the footing (which definitely wasn’t good but still), the 2nd time we made it to SJ warmup, where he refused a jump over a dozen times and I scratched because public humiliation really isn’t my thing. The last time was this June and I fell off halfway through SJ.
So. Great track record.
I didn’t say anything to anyone (except Husband, of course, since he’d notice if I was, well, missing. At least I think he would…), and headed to Aiken Saturday afternoon after the “snow” was cleared from the roads.
As soon as P was settled in his stall, I went to go walk XC before the sun set. I was relieved when I saw jump 1- this was going to be super easy. In fact, when I was finished with the course, I was feeling even a little confident- besides the ginormous red table that was jump 15, but that was at the end so I was sure it’d be fine. The only jump I couldn’t find was jump 5 but I’d ask about that in the morning.
Sunday morning came and I hopped on for dressage at 10. It would be our first time testing out the new BN A test and…well, I’m not a fan. P was a dream to warm up, but for the second competition in a row, became super tense when we went in for the actual test. I’m not sure HOW we managed a 4 on our first CL- we definitely were nowhere near the quarterlines…and he felt fine to me at that point. As for the rest of it, he was for sure tense. But there were no explosions, no bolting….But whatevs. We weren’t exactly there for the dressage part anyway.
I had a couple of hours before SJ, so I went to go walk the course and my heart sank. Talk about ALL THE FILLERS. Stone wall, spotted wall, bushy flowers attached to planks, mucho oxers, pallets with brush, and a little GREEN ROLLTOP. We were doomed.
Another competitor approached me was I was walking the course and asked if I’d walked XC and knew where jump 5 was. Oh right…that’d be good to know, huh? So we went to the office, got a map, and set off on our search.
And, well, I thought about running back to the office and scratching as soon as we found it. Because after 4 teeny tiny jumps to start (in comparison), this was 5:
But I’d already done dressage, so I figured that since I’d definitely be eliminated in SJ, then I’d school the XC course and skip 5.
P warmed up for SJ much more exuberantly than usual. The warmup area is a pasture (not to mention this venue puts on tons of shows so it’s used frequently already) and the footing was BAAA-AAAD, so I think P was just getting pissed about the constant tripping he was doing. Then the stewards were asking for people to go and I immediately said, “Pick me! Let’s get this over and done with.”
And…double clear. I failed at life and forgot to turn my helmet cam on, naturally. While it didn’t feel pretty, I was assured it didn’t look bad at all, and P was just awesome. And a little angry. He took jumps 1 and 2 like a champ, then backed off at 3 (the pallet/brush jump), and I smacked him with my crop. I NEVER do that and he was highly offended but didn’t even look at a thing after that- even the solid stone boxes that made it look like an XC jump. So with that we headed to XC.
And I remembered my helmet cam!
P was a little high strung at this point- the last two competitions we’ve done D/SJ on day 1 and XC on day 2, so he seemed a bit confuzzled why we were heading away from the barn. I didn’t bother with warmup jumps and we were sent off after a couple of minutes.
Coming out of the start box, P immediately tried to migrate sideways and backwards back towards the barn (which was behind the start box) and I wondered if we’d even MAKE IT to jump 1. So I raised my crop and that got him going forwards in a jiffy.
Once he complied, jump 1 was done. And we were officially on our first BN course!
Jump 2 looked a little weird and he definitely took a second to read it, but no hesitation!
Jump 3 was shared with Novice and a couple Novice riders told me it caused some issues because of the equipment on the other side. But P didn’t even notice.
Jump 4 was a cabin that P hopped right over.
Then it was time for jump 5. I’m pretty sure I just repeated, “Please jump, please jump, please jump,” over and over all the way from jump 4. He definitely looked, but still went anyway!
But we still had 11 more jumps. So back to work.
Heading into the next field and turning AWAY from the barn is where I felt P really start to click into XC mode. And it was FUN.
Jump 6 was a plain roll top at the bottom of the hill.
Jump 7 was a bench…the same size as the one I had FREAKED OUT OVER at CHP in June. And then never jumped. So game on.
Then we dropped to the trot down the slippery hill to 8, which was a drop option. You could take the Novice drop or just go through the flags. My original plan had been to just go through the flags- while P has always been ok with banks, why give myself an extra chance to pick up a refusal? I ALMOST changed my mind because he was going so well, but decided to stick with the plan.
Jump 9 I almost missed because turning + right drift = impossible.
Jump 10 was the water complex. He’s never had an issue with water and thankfully didn’t decide to start one yesterday.
Then we had a nice gallop through the woods and over a tiny cabin at 11. Yes, I’m calling BN tiny. Whowouldathought?
Up the hill and over 12 and 13- a coop to a ditch. I can’t even tell if P saw the ditch…
Then up the hill and we swung around to 14, which was a ramp. Even though we got in a little weird, P saved the day.
Then to 15, the BIG ASS RED TABLE. But still narrower (if only slightly) than jump 5 so I just asked P to take it out of stride. And he said yes!
And then galloped to 16 and through the flags!
Full helmet cam (including the stickiness out of the start box):
And despite our crappy dressage score, finished 3rd ON OUR DRESSAGE SCORE (for the 2nd time ever!)