Monday, May 28, 2012

Part 2, or, in which I attempt to stay alive ...

Alrighty, after dressage Tiki was of course a bucket of sweat, so I schlepped him back to the washrack to hose him down and sponge him off with some vinegar.  He was getting SERIOUSLY tired of the cold water and attempted to sit back and break his halter at least 3 times.  Wow.  Much to my delight, I hadn't felt so much as a twinge from my ankle once in the saddle, which is pretty dang amazing.  Probably due to a combination of adrenaline  and lots of ibuprofen!  If any of you have ever thought it smart to vetwrap yourself, it IS ... however, the wrap itself will make my skin catch on FIRE, it hurts it so bad.  So smart me had brought a brand new pack of 5 pairs of trouser socks, and put the ugliest one on my bare left leg, then wrapped over that.  Perfect!

Worked like a charm:)  I had 3 hours before xc, so I pulled up a chair, consumed yet another bottle of water, munched on some snacks, and chilled out.  I had figured out the best way to get from the barn to the warmup, as the provided maps were next to useless, so I went ahead and changed into my super awesome shirt I'd just gotten for xc.  Horses were passing our stalls left and right headed out to the course, and I saw one girl in particular that had her bada$$ on.  The horse looked confident, she looked confident ... so I flipped on MY inner bada$$ and tried not to think about my looming E ...

Strapped on my medical armband so tightly I cut off the circulation in my arm, so I loosened that slightly, lol. Checked a dozen times to make sure I had my crop (I never ride with one), arm band, and bridle number (Hunterland uses back numbers) because the barn is a HIKE from the xc warm up.  Tiki was chill and relaxed, showing none of his former propensity to be a nightmare.  He stood still while I mounted with yet ANOTHER bottle of water in hand and waited patiently for Marisa and Pony to join us.  As we hacked down the road, M and Tiki were happy to be with each other and looked around with ears perked and happy faces on:)

As we arrived at warmup, I was trying to keep it cool.  Bada$$, remember?  I trotted about 20 steps, cantered about 20 strides, reversed and repeated.  He felt pretty dang GOOD.  Wow.  WAY different that our FIRST xc warmup at Chatt Hills.  There was the usual x rail, vert, and oxer set up, but I ignored those and cantered the tiny log first.  Tiki gave it his customary "solid jump look" as he bounded over with a pretty nice amount of air, then I came straightaway to the bigger log, which was a pretty solid 2'6/2'9.  We had a slight miscue as to where to take off at, so I came into that one more time and he was PERFECT..  We got there 20 minutes before our ride times, and they were running about 10 mins early, so I was ready to just GO.  ON.  Remember that I had it on good authority that May-Daze was "ridiculously small; equal to about other HT's BN".  OK, I don't know what division THAT person had been showing (Advanced, maybe?), but the course was NOT SMALL.  IT WAS HUGE.  This was literally going to be a round of the biggest, widest jumps we've EVER done.  The terrain made even the 2'9ish jumps ride more like 3', and the 3'ish jumps ride more like 3'3.  So I was quite literally quaking in my boots.  10 seconds!  3, 2, 1, Have a nice ride!

Big, but I was ok with it.
Jump 1 felt abso-frickingly loutely amazing!  It was only about 10 strides beyond the start line, and he locked on and jumped right out of stride:)

This one I was ok with because it's VERY similar to what we jump on the hunter pace.
Jump 2 rode quite large because as Tiki got up to it, he realized the top had a slight width to it, but it felt GREAT!  Right out of stride:)

This one I felt right at home; done dozens of these!
Jump 3 was off a bit of an awkward short turn to the left around a tree.  Tiki was FLYING at this point!  Huge, ground eating gallop:)  He locked on here, and landed looking for the next one:)

This was a tiny up bank ... WITHOUT the log of course!
Jump 4 was a tiny up bank.  Muffin hopped up ready to keep on galloping!  Little did he know what was next ...

Here is where I was half convinced we'd either be E'd, or have 20.  Uh, bench jump, anyone?
Jump 5 is literally the biggest jump I have ever seen.  Going up hill, a SOLID 3' tall, it had the 3 steps then a wide top on it.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 4' wide.  If Tiki jumped UP over that ... I'd fly out of the tack and we'd die.  As we made the awkward right hand turn after the bank, I grabbed the neckstrap, BREATHED, sat back but light and galloped.  And we SAILED over it!

This one is narrow and in the trees, so I knew I couldn't take it for granted
Jump 6 was a tall log, narrow, and set in the shade.  I knew I'd have to ride here, but we'd just landed from outer space, so he was coming on with a FULL head of steam and some supreme-o confidence.  He saw it and said, "WHATEVAH!  NO problem!"  Landed looking for more.  I positively laughed out loud at this point, and had to pull him up because we had a glorified puddle crossing coming up.  It was seriously like a cow pond with no good entry points.  I didn't even dignify it with a pic.  Pulled him to the walk for a second, then entered with no problems, trotted through, then looked for my path to 7.  After the water, jump 7 was beyond a blind hill and was somewhere vaguely to the left...

This one gave me SLIGHT pause because it's pretty stout, and SEE that stupid speaker RIGHT next to it?
7 was the biggest brush we've done, but it's right in the fence line of the actual steeplechase track!  Cool!  I was thankful the brush wasn't sticking up in the center too high, but I knew he'd be fine here.  As we galloped down the hill, the speaker started talking of course, and Tiki looked at it a little bit.  I grabbed the neck strap, sat back, closed my leg, and we sailed over it!

This would have worried me a year ago, but not today!
Fence 8 came up off a fairly tight right hand turn.  Tiki was motoring along and didn't even look at this one as he flew over it!

Fence 9 was the actual marked water crossing.  It was again pretty small and brown, and it took me the entire time from 8 to get him to come down, lol.  He was pumped UP!  I came down to the trot again so I could line him up for the second of impossible fences ... I hadn't even been sure we'd MAKE it this far, so to be riding to it now scared me ...

This thing is HUGE.  WIDE.  UPHILL.  ACK!
Fence 10 Tiki ate for dinner.  I lined him up coming out of the water, he locked on and galloped right up to it:)  I think I nearly wept with relief in the air.  From this point on I was "that" girl.  Yup, the one babbling nonsense baby talk to her rockstar of a horse and patting him every 3 feet.  Still some challenges left, but by now I felt pretty bada$$:)

Fence 11 was another tiny up bank straight ahead to ...
Our first combination!
12 AB was either a very gallopy one, or an easy 2.  I felt good about the distance.  These are smaller in height, but they're pretty wide on top.  Tiki galloped up, then looked twice when he saw the width, but I just closed my leg and said "Good Boy!" and he took them in a nice easy 2.

The dreaded half coffin ...
13 AB was the half coffin.  The ditch was well defined by the M10, and was 4 easy strides beyond the easy barrels.  It was about the width of the Calimar ditch, but much more shallow.  Tiki didn't even peek into it, just sailed over.  I laughed here and patted him as he galloped on looking for more to conquer!

This is a really stout rolltop
14 he didn't even think about.  We galloped up to it and over we went!  At this point, I got to thinking we were 3 from the end and it hadn't felt like even CLOSE to 5 minutes (optimum time).  We'd run through pretty fast, so I wondered if we'd have speed faults.  As I was wondering all this, I got lost lol.  Go figure!  I turned inside the fence line and was looking for the log, then realized the log was THROUGH the fence.  Whoops.  Pulled Tiki up, turned him around, apologized, then got back on track:)

The log wasn't quite as tall as some, but it was a slight drop fence
15 was FUN!  It was only about 2'9 high, but had a downhill landing.  Tiki felt like he was FLYING as we hopped over this.  Might I add, I balanced him up, and properly sat back on landing?  Only 2 from home and I was having the TIME of my LIFE!!!

Um really big table, Batman?
Fence 16 was HUGE.  I'm not even sure I knew I'd MAKE it at this point, as I was aware there were quite a few places Tiki would jump huge over, or slam on the brakes 10 strides out, or ... yeah, you can see how much I trusted how much confidence Tiki has now.  To be fair, this is only the SECOND full xc course we've EVER run.  And the first one, at BN we got around with one stop, one NEAR stop, and me just kicking and cropping for dear life as I forgot to breathe.  That was a year and a half ago, and we haven't even been schooling at one of the bigger venues, just little 'ol Calimar down the road.  Needless to say, he flew over this right out of stride, no hesitation, no looks, just ready to fly!

Final jump!
As we approached the last jump, I was blabbering non stop.  In the air over the jump I was praising him, patting him, and was near tears.  Galloping over the finish line, I threw my arms around his neck.  That was truly, 100% the most amazing thing I've EVER done with my horse.  He was fast, clean, and BOTH of us still had gas in the tank! We both could have done it again!  I could feel his perkiness, that cockiness as we walked in the shade, getting our breath and waiting on the Pony.  I felt AMAZING.  We had NAILED all 17 jumps, not one single missed distance.  Not one awkward jump, I felt tight as a tick and we felt like one entity the entire time.  I held my neckstrap at probably 5 jumps total, but I hadn't needed it.  Didn't pull out the crop at all.  We had a BLAST, and I definitely want to come again next year.  Double clear, baby!!!
Well deserved chilling in front of the fan:):)

1 comment:

  1. Tiki is THE MAN!! I am so impressed with both of you. You guys made that course your bitch!