Saturday, March 10, 2012

Red Hills Day 2

Cross country day was it always is! After all that is the main appeal of this sport. There really isn't anything much like it.

I was planning to do another podcast recap (yesterday's dressage recap is here), but my bandwidth is being sucked up in an attempt to upload Running Order's helmet cam from today. It is an exciting one. I was nearly knocked out by his head when his hind end slipped out on a bending line during the last combination. Turns out, my good friend Michael Pollard had a horse fall in the same location from slipping as well. So keep your fingers crossed, with some luck it will be online tonight.

The day started off well. I was nervous this morning, the unknown is never settling. Hughie set off on his second prelim course ever. Red Hills is unlink nearly every other event we see throughout the year. The spectator attendance is probably second only to Rolex. This is invaluable expereince for younger horses, although it does make for a few sketchy moments. Hughie grew up as we progressed around the course.

For the first 10 or so fences he was more interested in the surroundings than the jumps at hand. This was unsettling at the time, but he quickly realized this might not be the best strategy. He got better and better as we continued and he finished up very, very well. He is a better horse because of this round, without a doubt! He was 8 seconds over the time, and finished up in 4th. Not bad for a 6 yr old!

Running Order was next up. This was his first XC round of the year. 'Skinny' is a very careful horse, with a massive stride, so a course like this is a great opportunity for him. There were various striding options throughout the course, and he answered each one like a pro!

Like Hughie we had a few fences I'd like to do over, but overall he was much, much better than years past. Fair Hill CCI3*'s xc last year was a turning point. I think I've figured out the missing link that was holding us back. Today he was very quick to adjust, and was excellent in responding from the bobble at the 2nd to last. When I say bobble, I'm glad I came away without a concussion. It was a bending 4 stride line, and he came through like a champion, until his hind end gave out. This sent his hind quarters out to the side, and his poll directly into my head! All of this about 1 stride out from the 'B' element. He recovered very well and finished up strong. I did not go for time, so we dropped from 2nd to 3rd, but I really couldn't be happier.

Tali was the last out. As I mentioned in the podcast, I'm looking to qualify him for the Jersey Fresh CCI** in May. This CIC** is the remaining component I'm missing. He is an XC machine! He galloped around it as if it were child's play. We did have one hairy moment at the last water where we got in wrong to the hut in the water itself. We climbed all over it, but he continued as if nothing had happened. Ultimately, that's what you need. A horse that will not be flustered, and will be more determined after an hiccup. He is that horse! He finished up with some time as well and currently sits in 10th. All is looking good for tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed!


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