The last two days were long but good. I ended up going cross-country at 4:00 pm, so I had all day to hang out (and stress) and wait for the shadows to add to the difficulty of the cross-country course! The course is lovely though, with lots of open galloping spaces and a wonderful feeling of being on top of the world. It had the feel to me of the Burghley cross-country course in England, actually. There is plenty of room to run and make time between the fences.
When I finally did get on and headed to the warm-up, Spike seemed good. He was jumping out of his skin and really going great in the warm-up. I practiced getting up some speed and then coming back because I knew I had a good run right at the beginning of the course and would need to make up time wherever I could! Well, Spike wanted to get a bit silly when he got going, but I figured he would be better out on course.
The first fence was in a grass grandstand arena, right next to the vendors and patrons tents. After jumping the first fence, you galloped out the end of the ring.
(The third fence on course.)
Spike was fabulous to the first fence, right in front of all that commotion, and out we went. After leaving the arena, you galloped through the dressage arena area, between two rings and out on the course. The second fence was down a hill a little, with uneven terrain. Spike was being a bit silly and pulling on me, and didn’t really listen coming back, but jumped the fence fine.
We then made a sharp right hand turn, up a hill, and galloped on to a big brush fence. Spike jumped it well, but again was pulling on me a bit, which caused me to ride him with a bit of hand down to the base of the fence. I prefer to be able to get him up and soft so I can ride forward to the fences, not pulling against him to the base, but I hoped when he got a little gallop out of him, he would be easier to ride.
(Fence 4A & B)
After the third fence, there was a long gallop up a hill, and I let him roll on a little to stay up on my time. I was quite worried about fence 4AB and the word from the coaches was that it was really tough and rode a bit hard. It was right around a turn at the top of the hill, and into the sun. I planned to just keep coming at the fence and take it off the turn. But as I was warming up, I was talking to Sam who said to swing wide into the un-mowed area and make sure you get a good straight line. So I ended up doing a bit of both. I tried to swing wide, but Spike had his head between his knees after running up the hill, and was not listening to my half halts. I came around the turn again having to pull on him and as I got a stride away, I had that sinking feeling. The fence was too big to hold to the base of, Spike had never seen anything like it, and he had his head down and not paying any attention to the jumps. And I held right down to a nothing distance where he couldn’t jump out of. So we had a right hand glance off, swung around down the hill and got straight with his head up, and he jumped through great!
But then we were off and running again, with his head between his knees and more focused on running that way than paying any attention to me. he jumped the next two fences fine, but I really wanted him more uphill. The seventh fence was a big log in a small water run through. The approach was coming down a big hill, so I really sat him back at the top of the hill, and rode straight to the fence. He was great! Jumped the fence in the water perfectly. Then on to 8AB, a bench to a big table on a bending line. Spike was still pulling on me, and I had to get him in a bit deep to the B portion, but he jumped well. I later heard that the fence was jumping that way for everyone, getting a close five-strides in the line.
Fence 9 was a table, and jumped well despite Spike keeping his head down. Fence 10AB was the skinny round to skinny round and while we jumped through it, it wasn’t pretty because Spike was again getting his head down and not looking at the fences. Another long run up a hill to a ditch and wall, which jumped great and Spike was finally starting to let me ride him a bit. Then a big gallop and on to an oxer at fence 12. This was the first fence where Spike listened to my half halt and came up in front, and it rode wonderfully.
(The bank complex)
Then to the bank complex, on, off, over a log bending line to a roll top. Spike was great here and then jumped the next two fences well also. We jumped fence 15 at the top of a hill, then headed down a huge hill to the big water. This was the toughest water Spike had ever seen! A big ascending log jump, two strides over a log drop in the water but heading right for the big patron tent, left turn in the water to then turn back to the right and over a crazy skinny brush right next to the tent!
(Huge water complex!)
Spike came over the hill and saw all the sights and luckily backed off to get a good look...which meant that two strides out I could push him forward to the fence and he was awesome! Jumping in like an old pro, listened to me in the water, made the turn out wonderfully and saw the skinny brush and went! It couldn’t have been better!
(Crazy skinny brush next to the patrons tent.)
We galloped on to the last two fences out of stride, with Spike still pulling after the finish. Into the 10 minute box where I got off and we untacked. Spike was perfect in the 10 minute box, more interested in eating than anything! His pulse was 80, and his respiration was almost normal. After the 10 minutes, his temp was back to resting, pulse was 60 and respiration was still resting.
We ended up with 45 seconds of time with the stop, and Spike recovered well. I used a product called Liquid Ice back at the barn instead of the normal ice boots, and I was really impressed! You put a bandage in a liquid formula and then wrap the leg like normal. The wrap is instantly cold and continues for two hours to stay at ice temperature. The best part is the even application of the cold all around the leg and knee, and no risk of ice burn or damage. It was awesome and no more frozen hands scooping out ice!
(Final horse inspection – bright and early!)
This morning was an early day--trot-ups at 6:30 am!! After getting up at 4 am, we jogged fine and then I tacked up and headed to the show jump warm-up. The course was a bit bland and very easy, and despite Spike being a tired boy, he jumped a nice clear round. He ended up moving up 10 places, but there were a number of eliminations. After finishing, I had the chance to sit in a Southern Stars jumping saddle and jump a few fences. Oh my...what a NICE saddle. I have to figure out a way to get my hands on one! It really feels a lot like a Devoucoux, but Spike seemed to be very happy in it. Check out www.southernstarssaddlery.com . These saddles are designed and ridden in by Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks.
We are finally home and packing again to head down south for a week. Spike gets the week off, then back to work for Squad School and then to Canberra One-Day Event. There are lots of pictures posted on webshots of the courses and facilities, so check them out!
The 2020 USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) East Coast Championships kicked off today at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland following the successful completion of the FEH Central Championships at Haras Hacienda in Magnolia, Texas this past Thursday. Twenty-three horses were presented today to Championship judges Robin Walker and Susan Graham White – four in the FEH East Coast 4-year-old Championship and 18 in the FEH East Coast 3-year-old Championship.
After a rainy night, the footing for the FEI cross-country drained nicely and held up well throughout the morning. Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp held on to her overnight lead aboard Fernhill By Night and added 4.8 time faults to her double clear show jumping round to take home the win in the CCI4*-S. Not one rider was able to make it through the finish flags within the time allowed, but the top 28 had no jumping penalties.
The CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S divisions were able to complete their show jumping before the torrential rain interrupted the competition for the CCI2*-S division.
The 2020 United States Eventing Association (USEA) Future Event Horse (FEH) Central Championships took place yesterday, September 24 at Haras Hacienda in Magnolia, Texas. With four new champions crowned, this marked one of the first USEA Championships to be held in 2020. Jayne Lloyd, the organizer of the Championships shared, “Everyone had a nice day with their youngsters. The quality of horses is getting better and better. Haras [Hacienda] is a lovely facility to put this on – great stabling, great footing, all indoor because we’ve had some bad weather the past few days. But overall, I think it all went really well.”