Cross-country day (aka T-Shirt Time) dawned chilly and sunny. We have enjoyed a decent night’s sleep in a finally air-conditioned motor home and got to the barn around 5:30 a.m. First ride was Monkee at 8:07. He went out and despite leaving the start box late (that’s my boy!) he jumped around clean and fast. Perfect prep for a more difficult Intermediate course this weekend. Then Devon went out and jumped around clean….followed by Ardy…then Cory. What a bunch of rock stars! C couldn’t stop smiling about Ardy’s first Prelim…the horse is a beast! He knows it, too…he’s fit for the first time in his life and he’s found the ability to puff himself up well beyond his already HUGE stature and act like he’s king of the world. I’m perfectly happy letting him have the title as long as he keeps jumping like that!
So after a lot of waiting, waiting, waiting…it was Pop Star’s turn. I got VERY nervous and was shaking and sick to my stomach right before I got on…the anticipation was getting to me more than anything. Pop looked great in his black pad and black boots w blue tape, and I wore Lizzie’s black vest with aqua laces and trim. Warm-up was great…we just jumped three fences and he was spot on to all of them. Then we chilled beside the volunteer tent with C, Lizzie, and my Dad until we were called to go over to the start box. The volunteers at the start box were VERY friendly and complimented me on Pop (he’s SO pretty!!). Then with a good luck, the countdown began.
10….9….8….7….(Pop starts bouncing)…6…5…(enter start box)…4…3…2…1……..GO!!
He exploded out of there like a rocket and we flew over the first fence. Galloped down and went to make a right hand turn to Fence 2, and Poppers was on the left lead and locked on to an Intermediate fence straight ahead. Really had to sit and wrench him around and was talking to him the whole time… “This one’s ours, bud!” We chipped to 2 because I was so busy picking at him with my hands. Same thing with fence 3. Fence 4 was a lot better and so was 5…then we went around to 6, which he was a little crooked to but willing..then 7 which was another sharp right hand turn (with him on the left lead booking it), but we made it over. Then down a big hill to Fence 8, which was the ditch. He literally never hesitated and we flew over it…bye bye, ditch phobia! Up a hill and down a hill to fence 9, which was through a hedge of brush. Fence 10 was beautiful and we galloped around to the water…galloped through the water (splash splash splash) and out over Fence 12.
13 and 14 were my favorite jumps on course. You had to come around the bend, hug the brush and then make a right angle turn left to 13 (he was perfect!), then 6 strides to an up bank. He attacked it! I didn’t even have time to be nervous about it. Up and around the bend to 15, jumped it beautifully. By this point we had found our rhythm. 16 was fine, 17 was tough because it landed down a hill but he balanced himself beautifully for it and then we really galloped up the massive hill to 18, where our “fan club” was standing! Hit the distance perfectly, flew over and heard cheers for US! One fence to go….he was on his left lead again and not listening to my aids to turn right for Fence 19…I managed to get him turned in time and then through the finish flags! WOO HOOO!!!!! GOOD BOY!!!!
I had forgotten the adrenaline rush you get from this sport. This is what I’ve been missing from my life. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to have this horse, the opportunity to compete, and the most amazing support group anyone could ever hope for.
We finished 7th. We had one of the fastest times in our division (whoops, hehe) so that’s something to think about this weekend. I have a good idea of things to work on and things that need improving and most of all, I know I can do this. I’m not petrified anymore. I have confidence in myself and my horse. We belong as much as anyone else, and believe me, this is WELL worth being completely broke for the rest of my life.
Thanks for all of YOUR support through this blog, and stay tuned for this weekend at Five Points! Take care!!