Last weekend was the last show of the year for Dexter and me. It’s always a bittersweet time—your horse is at the peak of his fitness and preparedness, but once it’s over you know you’ll be staring out the window into the cold until at least April, dreaming of horse shows and warmer weather.
Due to our local Kentucky Horse Park being taken over by the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and its associated construction projects for most of the summer and fall, it was more than a two-month wait for our last show of the year at the Hagyard Midsouth Team Challenge, the first show held at the KHP post-WEG.
According to the Omnibus listing, the cross-country would be “moderately difficult.” Since they tend to undersell the course descriptions quite a bit, it might as well have read: “Enormous giant honking Novice!”
As I walked the course, this was indeed the most technical course I’d seen at this level. And there wasn’t much time to get rolling, as the biggest challenges were “front-loaded” into the first six jumps (out of 17 total). Jump #3 made me the most nervous – a tall, wide table with slots in the front and back, so there were little “windows” you could see through to the other side. That’s a pretty spooky jump for a horse so early on course. No time to fall asleep after that one, however; jump #4 was a combination of max-height “forts” on a downhill left-hand turn nine strides apart. Right after that was a right-hand turn over a table, three turning strides to a down-bank, and a few more turning strides to another table!
After that was a water crossing followed by two large logs set as a two-stride combination, then one “easy” coop before a small log into the second water! Wow.
Fortunately, Dexter carted me around the course safely, letting me ride him strongly to the bigger, more imposing jumps, and then allowing me to set him up in a nice show jumping canter for the more technical parts. Good boy!
|I should mention that this was a team competition with “costumes encouraged”; our team was Wizard of Oz-themed, and I was the Scarecrow! Because my rides were at 8:00 A.M., it was too dark to get any photos other than this one.|
Combined with our personal-best dressage score and clean stadium jumping round, we ended up tied for third in a large division of 24 riders. In eventing, the advantage in a tie situation goes to the rider who was closest to the optimum time on cross-country (without going over, which would give you time penalties). The other rider ended up closer. As my dad said, “I doubt a man came up with that rule – faster should be better!”
But all in all it was a wonderful weekend with great weather, fall leaves, and a pony that did his best. What more could you ask for?
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