This is going to be a long one. I know a lot of you split up posts by phases/days, but nah. I got a lot of texts from people who had checked live scores so I’m just putting it all out at once. Maybe take a few days to read this one. Maybe just skim through and look at all the awesome pictures/videos. Enjoy!
To start, I’ve never been to VA Horse Center before, and WOW, it’s such a gorgeous venue. The stalls were huge, aisles were wide, and I loved the mesh stall fronts- made it so easy to hang all the things.
We got up there around 5 PM on Friday, settled all the horses in and headed out to dinner. Halfway through, someone mentioned braiding. Braiding? For Novice? That’s a thing?
Thankfully E, whose horse Trainer B was riding in Novice as well, saved the day and P looked suitably fancy for prancing down centerline.
And fancy he was.
When I did Novice A back at a schooling show (remember when the judge laid on her horn in our faces?) we scored a 35. This test was significantly better than mine (should go without saying) so I was a bit surprised to see the score of 34.3 pop up. The judge was equally tough on everyone though, as E’s horse, who takes the word “fancy” to an entirely new level and routinely scores in the low 20’s, scored a 31. But P was dinged for his open mouth (an entirely other discussion/post), coming above the bit a couple times to whinny (which he NEVER does ::facepalm::), and she wanted to see P cover more ground in the canter. Which would be ideal, yeah, but because of P’s tendency to get stronger and then strung out in the canter the longer he goes, Trainer B did a great job of keeping him rounder to prevent that from happening.
That score stuck them in a 3-way tie for 11th.
Because the weather had showed storms all weekend (which never came to fruition), the schedule got changed up and P’s division ended up doing XC on day 1, instead of the SJ as originally scheduled. So that morning we treked up and down lots of hills to walk XC.
Jump 1 was just a simple log. It actually looks a bit smaller than the BN one to the left of it.
I didn’t see anything intimidating with jump 2, but it apparently caused the most issues on course- B said P looked really hard at it and on his other ride, he almost had a stop at this fence.
Then you went straight down this really steep hill to this table/box thing. It looks much bigger in real life, I promise. Trainer B said it was a bit unfair for the level to have that steep of a hill to this big of a jump. His words, not mine.
Then you made a left hand turn to 4.
Then curved back to the right and uphill to this rolltop. Which was green. Godspeed, Trainer B.
Then back to the left to this 3 stride. P gave a good peek at the B element with all it’s little branches. Then through the water, which I could say with great confidence that P would be fine at. And I was right.
Then up this massive hill with a fairly sharp left turn to 8, a coop.
Then down the hill to 9, which was a ditch/wall. Trainer B said he didn’t notice it had a ditch in front until he was galloping at it on his first ride of the day (P). But he said P didn’t give any indication that he noticed the ditch, or cared. So win!
Then 10- which landed slightly downhill and from the backside just looked massive. Remind me when it’s my turn not to turn around and look at jumps from the back.
Then 11 AB was a feeder with a 4 or 5 stride bending line to a corner. P has jumped a corner built out of rails before, but never seen one on XC. Trainer B said he could’ve cared less.
Then around the woods and down the hill to this airy table. Again, not sure why it looks so small in the picture. I assure you, it wasn’t.
And then a right hand turn to the coffin ditch. Trainer B said he was really glad he jumped P over the ditch at his place 2 days prior.
And then 9 strides to this hanging log with brush.
Then curve around, up another hill and over the logpile.
Then a looong gallop straight uphill to this table. This was one of the very few jumps I didn’t really want to look at too hard.
Then over a cabin which again, looks super small until you walk up to it.
And lastly over a bench to be done!
Here’s where life gets a little disappointing.
Before I left, I plugged my Cambox in and deleted all the files off of it. Trainer B rode XC with it on his helmet, but when he got off, said it might not have worked because it beeped a few times and went dark. When I got home, somehow it had turned on in it’s case and used up all the memory because I could hear my kids’ voices. So bummed.
We headed up to warmup and P looked pretty good, so I headed down to get a good spot on course for videos. After I had left, I was told that P was galloping around and suddenly stopped and ducked to the left, nearly sending Trainer B flying. It’s a move I know well, as my face and P’s right shoulder are by now intimately acquainted. But usually there’s a reason, and this time there were no other horses nearby, he wasn’t anywhere near a jump, and nothing anyone saw could be the reason. Gotta love P, right?
Trainer B asked me how competitive I wanted P to be- did I care about the time or no? I said no, only thing I was hoping for was no refusals. So he didn’t wear a watch, and said he regretted it later; that halfway through the course he thought he was going way too fast. And yeah, out of the 25 horses in the field, only 2 were a couple seconds faster than P. Goodness.
The video starts with jump 3.
That clear run bumped them up to 8th, 5 points out of first.
The next day P seemed a bit off. Not lame or anything, but just a lot of standing at the back of his stall, not eating much hay (though enthusiastic as ever for his grain), and not really being very sociable. Since he’s turned out practically 24/7 at home, at shows I usually get him out every few hours, but this time I really couldn’t- Trainer B was riding 4 horses in 3 different divisions and both days were extremely busy. I just hoped that P would pull it together and have a good attitude for SJ Sunday afternoon, as they had moved his division into the coliseum and P has never stepped foot in an indoor, let alone one like that.
Luckily, the warmup was all clear by the time Trainer B got on P, as P was the last horse to go in his division. Trainer B had just won the division on E’s horse (yay!) so at least I knew HE’D be in a good mood, and hopefully that would transfer over to P.
Then Trainer B pointed P towards the first warmup jump, got him in all sorts of wrong and P clobbered the top rail. Uhhh, Trainer B doesn’t miss.
He would later explain the reason, which is actually quite genius. Because P can’t always be counted on to jump the jump, Trainer B wanted to start off by seeing which P came out to play that day. So while he didn’t exactly set him up wrong on purpose, he didn’t help him out with the distance either, and then he just sat there to see what he would do. I can only assume he was trying to ride like me. But P passed the test by jumping anyway, so Trainer B so kindly helped him out the rest of the warmup.
Then it was his turn. P definitely gave the hairy eyeball to the chute into the coliseum and was a little hesitant to go in for a second or two.
Now let’s just gush about this round. The flag jump in the far corner was definitely the problem fence for all the divisions and while P took it a bit long (unsurprising), everything else was pretty much perfect.
So THIS clear round put them up into 6th place, only 3.3 points out of first.
And earned P an enormous green ribbon!