Going out to walk the course with super-leaser Andrea I realised how wet it was. I had download the virtual course walk and was a bit worried as there was a brush double (brush jumps scare me!), a ditch and a drop on an s-bend, plus a couple of tricky turns that would be worrisome in the wet. I planned my lines and decided that lots of trotting and going over time wouldn't be the end of the world.
We've had two young women die out on xc courses in Australia this year, (at higher levels admittedly) but I couldn't help but think that maybe I might meet a bad end, even though I could jump everything from a trot and nothing was over 60cm.
As luck would have it, Andreas friend came on the course walk with me and she had noticed a sign that had mentioned course changes for my class - they moved the stupid carrot box that had stopped us at the last event from a straight to a right turn (boo) but they had also scratched the ditch from the course (yay!!) so really I only had to worry about the brush and the drop. If it hadn't have been for her I would have been eliminated and gone off course!
In the warmup, I got to school a drop that was bigger than the one on course and I decided I would trot into it with a step or two of walk then canter away. The brush I knew I just had to ride her properly and the pond just needed to be trot into.
The wind had picked up and she was wired for sound during xc warm up. I just rode her through it and gave her something to do other than to spook at shit and by the time I was in the start box she was manageable (but still quite a handful!). There was SO MUCH horse in my hands! Once I got her on the job after the first couple of logs she really got rolling along and I had to really sit up and use my seat to keep her from galloping off. I was terrified but determined.
She kept looking at jump judges and photographers instead of keeping her eye on where she was going so I spoke to her constantly - the people on course must have thought I was nuts. The first half I kept having to grab her attention away from pointless shit and onto the jump ahead.
The brush double was half way through. It went a bit like this, from about 7 strides out:
Als: "I'll just go right around it".
Me: "ahhh, no you won't".
"Ok, I'll just go left then!"
"Nope, not left either"
"Ok well let's stop then"
"GET YOUR ARSE OVER THIS FENCE!!" *KICK KICK CLICK CLICK WHACK WHACK*
Als: "holy jeebus ok ok ok I'm JUMPING!!!! WHEEEEEEEEEE!!"
Me: *struggles not to be left behind, gets whip caught in reins*
The second brush two strides after she just jumped on autopilot, thankfully, as I did NOT have my shit together.
After that fiasco she was great! Looked forward to the jumps, was in front of my leg, adjustable, the works. I think she just needed to have a bit of a come-to-jesus moment and she switched on. She even jumped the yummy (stupid!) carrot box really well, giving it heaps of air. Andrea was on course at that jump and they cheered me on, it was awesome to get that little pep in the middle!
She didn't even think about not jumping anything else and was great for the drop and listened going into the water. The drop was the second last fence and I kept waiting for my "ok this is where I die" moment but when I saw that last fence I said to her "come on Allie, that's the last fence, let's GO!"
Over the last easy log while people cheered and we were DONE! I laughed and hugged Allie and told her what a great mare she was. Natalie was at the end with my niece and I hopped off and hugged them and loosened her girth and we walked back. Allie was barely puffing and was ready to go again! She's an easy horse to get and keep fit. My fitness was really good too, I've been doing a little bit of running and it had helped immensely.
We had gone over time from all the trotting, so I knew we could be close to last with the one rail down and the abysmal dressage. Turns out, we were dead last of 19, but about 8 combinations got eliminated on xc so at least we completed!!
All in all I'm happy with our experience. I got to ride her when she was tricky and a handful instead of her normal easy self and now I know I can handle it.
We have booked our next comp in a couple of weeks time, Equestriad. Goals for that are to have a decent dressage and maybe go a little quicker xc to try to ride to time if possible. I would love to finish on my dressage score too but I've learned that to do that it is much much harder than you think!