I don't think I sent in a proper SJ report. So in front of a packed house, estimates around 10k people on all sides of the stadium, we had the final phase of the 3 day, or Military as its know in Holland.
Running Order is generally quite a good show jumper. I was unsure of how well this particular round would go just due to the countless unknowns...the people, flags, banners, grandstands, bars/restaurants etc... The course was not overly technical. I was the second on course. So there wouldn't be much time to assess the typical problems which would have been clear after watching a few horses go, ie tricky combination, bogey fences or time. We figured the time would be tight, and this was the case. After walking there were a few areas of concern for me. A few of the jumps were situated in a way in which you were directly jumping into the stands. This was the case with the 2nd, the approach to 5, 8 and the final triple combination which if you drifted left you'd land within 15' of the outside wall separating the grandstands and the stadium. We made a plan to angle a few of these to take the people out of the question as much as possible, we also planned on an inside line to the triple allowing us to jump a bit left to right allowing the horse to see an out at the end. I can't tell you how happy I was that I've had the opportunity to jump so much over the past year. Anne's advice was ringing in my ear the entire time. And to my surprise I really was hardly nervous. The course looked small, I guess Courage's Grand Prix being the last course I walked puts things in perspective :). Not so say that's always the case, its all what your riding, and Skinny can jump with the best of them.
I hopped on for warmup, I've never been so excited a sunday before about a horse. Most horses would come out a little stiff and tired after 12mins of xc the day before. Not Running Order, I've always thought he'd make it big, this was confirmation. He jumped great in warmup. I went into the ring knowing the first horse had 1 or 2 rails and a few time. He jumped great throughout the course. We did have 1 down at a fence that ended up coming down all day. In hindsight I could have helped him off the ground a bit more. Such is life, we made the time without a problem. As I said before, upon finishing I knew there was a lot of room for improvement, but I was very proud of my pony!
Aside from the individual competition, we were one of 19 teams competing in the Grolsch Nations Cup competition. On the strong preformance of Sinead, Will and Tiana we finished 2nd. Which meant RO was back for the awards.
What a mad house. Between carriages of fresians and fjords, tons of authentically dressed people, notice the PC description ;), bands tractors etc...RO's eyes were popping out of his poor little head. We actually saw some woman a few ft away get run over by a tractor.
We won beautiful coolers, which I was excited about until I got a leg up...not sure how many of you have tried to ride with a cooler between you and the saddle, but without a doubt this ceremony was the closest I came to falling off during the weekend. My dad managed to assimilate into the masses of press as they entered to cover the awards ceremony, so pics should be coming soon. The victory gallop was exciting to say the least, but it was a great ending for the weekend.
Without question, I would rather have had a much different result. However, I know I speak for everyone that went along, it has been an immensely valuable experience. I certainly have never ridden in such an environment. Everything from the team experience, to the shear numbers of spectators to the stadium atmosphere for the horses, flying, packing the list goes on. I'm a frustrated, but much better rider and horseman for the experience.
As for Running Order, I really couldn't be more proud of him. The glitch we had on XC was not due to anything but inexperience, on his and my part. The only way of getting it is doing it. As much as I hate to admit that! The exciting thing was that he just continued to get better and more confident throughout the competition. He has come so far in such a short period of time. As an 8 year old he was one of the youngest in the competition, not only that but the fact that 2.5 years ago he hadn't been to a beginner novice! He is a much better horse coming out of the event than what I had going in.
I also want to thank all of the people who have made that all possible. First off, Patti, his owner. Without her support we're dead in the water. The Springsteen's have been exceptional throughout RO's short career. Then Mark Phillips, my Mom, Irma Hotz, Anne Kursinski, David O'Connor and I'm sure I'm forgetting many others. As for this trip we also can't forget Sara Ike and Mike Huber.
I also wanted to thank Larry and Amelia Ross for making the trip from Italy to watch over the weekend. They own Tali with me, and with a little luck he'll be competing at Boekelo in a few years!
This is an exciting journey, its going to have ups and downs, and I see it as long as your learning and getting better the future is looking bright. This trip cranked up the intensity of that light exponentially.
We have an off weekend coming up, we'll be heading off the Far Hills Races...then off to Va horse trials the following weekend for the rest of the horses at the barn. Running Order will be enjoying some much deserved time off in a field!
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