Fortunately I have much more media to show for the cross country phase at the WSS Horse Trials. Though first, let me say that the Ariat Odette shirt was on point during stadium. Coats were waived, and I managed to get the darn thing dirty between dressage and stadium, and you couldn’t tell thanks to the lacy weave! I got so many compliments on the shirt, it was insane. Honestly, completely, completely worth it. If you’re looking for a show shirt right now, it is highly, highly recommended.
Also, I forgot to mention that our double clear round in stadium on Saturday moved us up two places, from 11th to 9th (of 12).
After the competitors dinner on Saturday night I went home, went to bed at 9 PM, had super weird dreams, and woke up bright and early at 7 AM. I had a late-ish XC ride time (11:56) so I ran a few errands, took a monster nerves dump (yep, I said it), and headed out to the event. I got to watch a few of the riders from my barn going training, and then I was the next rider to go. So I chilled a bit.
At around 11 I started tacking up with all my friends. We blasted some Notorious BIG, Jay Z, AIH vs. Busta Rhymes (Touch It Whirlwind, so good but a little dirty) and of course a little Killer Queen. I had to get pumped. My friends helped me tack up and it was like, the best. I love my friends.
In warm up, Murray was like “WTF IS THIS HELL” because all the juniors in addition to all of the adult BN division had come down and there were waaaaay too many people in the warm up. I kept my leg on and we chipped in to every warm up fence and I was like “uhhhh…. at least we went?” B comforted me with the fact that there was a ton of activity (including horses with zero steering, for once it wasn’t me?) and reminded me: leg on, sit tall.
Murray was a professional about the start box. I was impressed.
The first jump was a teeny weeny little log, and I felt Murray express his confusion a bit as we approached it. However, it was teeny so he went. The second fence was where I realised I was in for a push ride — Murray was just a touch backed off to everything. So I sat down and kept my leg on, and over we went. Though it was sticky and lurchy, we went over everything. Murray didn’t look twice at the dirty water, and even though our downhill log was NOT beautiful, we did not stop and did not get freaked out over it.
The only fence that gave us a notable problem was #8 — a little log stack to an up bank. Murray spooked sideways at the Ride On Video people (oh Murray…), as is his MO, but I managed to turn him back towards the fence and popped over it without crossing our tracks or stopping.
And then it was through the water and over the coop by the crayons and then the log coop and then we were done!
I nearly cried when we were done. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t. Finishing cross country was more than enough redemption for me — sticky though it may have been.
When the scores came out I was confused, because we had somehow incurred 20 jump penalties. I was pretty sure we didn’t have any stops on course, so I went to look at the detailed results and talk to the officials in charge of jump judging, and lo and behold it was fence 8 where I was penalized. I was more than happy to accept whatever ruling the ground jury made, however I felt that it was important that I actually understand what counts as a refusal and what doesn’t — especially given that Murray does this sideways behavior more than never. I chatted with the head of the jump judges and she checked the score sheets, but unfortunately the jump judge hadn’t written anything down about the incident. The official then went to speak with the head of the ground jury, who fortunately had seen the incident, and ruled that it was not clear enough to call a refusal and removed the penalties from the scores.
Obviously in the future I will not be trying to toe the line between runouts and non-runouts, but I was really very sure that jump didn’t count as a run out. So I was happy that the head of the ground jury agreed with me.
I was really proud of Murray after Sunday. I know that he wasn’t as confident and brave as he usually feels when we are out schooling, but he did everything I asked him to, and listened to me the whole time. He also didn’t insist on galloping 500 mpm between the fences, which was actually amazing, so nice to have a reasonable, controlled canter the entire course. Gives me a lot more time to think! I don’t think I could have asked for anything more from him — he listened, he went, and we finished without being eliminated. I would have been happy even if we had kept the refusal.
As it was, I managed to achieve one of my big goals for this year, finishing on my dressage score at beginner novice. More importantly, I think this event put trust in the bank for me and Murray, and helped build his confidence. Most importantly, redemption. Yep, I’m that petty. Redemption was important to me.
Also, the happiest galloping picture from above? One of my friends suggested a more… appropriate creature to represent my feelings at that moment.