Here we go again…. Today was WET and COLD!!!! It was about 41 degrees and pouring rain, especially rainy during Nemo’s cross country. I debated all day long about whether or not the boys would be running… The grounds have received days of rain, and everything is supersaturated. We have been so wet, cold, and miserable for so many days. And after months of hard work and preparation, it is such a difficult decision to make. I leaned towards withdrawl all day… Especially since there were a pair of corners on a perfect four and a half stride downhill without an option… Imagine that 80 horses were going to gallop down that line, just asking for trouble on a half stride… The footing would have been incredibly dangerous. The ground jury removed the fence and a couple of others before the start of XC to try to keep the footing as safe as possible…. That made me feel much better. (I would love to have jumped the corners, but only if the horses could get enough purchase off the ground to actually JUMP them!!) I took the approach all day of warm-up and decide. Both boys ended up running.
My game plan for both horses was slow and safe, and if the footing wasn’t safe, just retire. Nemo set off first, as the 16th horse of the day. He was AMAZING!!! He had a beautiful round. All the way round, I made sure to find him fresh turf. We went slowly, but saved lots of time by angling fences and making good turns. He just stepped over the giant snake trakehner, as well as the big panda ditch and wall. He was soo good at big, tough turning tables in the arena, and jumped well down the downhill table to chevron on 5.5 strides. His best fence of the round was probably the sunken road, which was extremely tough!! You had one BIG rail, one stride, down bank, one stride, up bank, bounce over a HUGE skinny! He was picture perfect there. The first water was VERY tough…. A big goose in the water, four strides up a mound over a toothbrush balanced on the mound. That fence was my biggest concern for both horses. He was SOOOO good there! He jumped the goose really well, and was so straight and honest over the toothbrush. At the skinny mushrooms, he took a VERY tight inside line, allowing me to angle both skinnies… What a super star! The final water was a skinny, tough turn, rolltop drop into water, and an angled skinny brush out. He was so good all the way round! He jumped clean with 25 time penalties…. I was so happy with him! He jumped a super pretty round, and recovered really well.
Hopper had the worst of the conditions… He was the 53rd horse scheduled to go XC. As I warmed up, I was more prepared mentally to scratch than ride, but Hopper is exceptionally good in mud. He was all business in the warmup, and REALLY wanted to play! He went out of the box like a tiger, and as I rode him around I worked hard to find him fresh footing everywhere. He galloped incredibly well in the muck and mud. Fence 8 was an incredibly tall, incredibly skinny vertical balanced on the edge of a huge steep cliff down onto the road, then a steep cliff back up the other side. This fence and the duck-to-toothbrush question at #17 both caused lots of problems. He was super honest here. He was sooo good everywhere, and galloped strongly. I was worried about the #17 toothbrush for him, but he jumped it HUGE and he was incredible. He was so brave and scopey over the giant oxer at #15 that he jumped me out of my left stirrup (I was soaking wet!), but I kept my leg w/o the stirrup and it was fine. What a big effort! He was amazing all the way around. I had a sticky jump into the water at fence #23, but Hopper is an exceptional boy and landed well. The skinny out was numbered separately, and I momentarily thought of circling. But we were well organized and landed well, so I kicked on to the skinny out and he was a star! Brian O’Connor, the announcer, had to make a little fun of me, commenting on my super stickability…. LOL, I’d rather not have an opportunity to show that off! But he was so good at every other fence, and came across the finish line easily ready to do another 2 minutes. The most difficult part of the day with Hopper was leading him back!! He was so fresh that he drug me most of the way back to the barn on the 1 mile long walk…. He wanted to go again!!
They were both so good!! They came back without a mark on them, and both are happy and proud of themselves and mauling us for carrots. Nemo is in 19th, and Hopper is in 20th. (WOW, I’m consistent! LOL) I’m very happy with them, as they were great today, and there were 80 horses in the division as of Monday!!! Only 28 horses and riders made it through XC, and if I count properly I’m the only rider in the CCI** to have two horses still in it after XC. What amazing horses I’m blessed with!! I’m so proud of them!!!