My experience can be summed up in this photo:
It was awesome. I still have that goofy grin on my face.
We came in last place on both rounds, with plenty of time faults on the first go (Intro BN), and both jump and time faults on the second go (Easy BN), but I am incredibly proud of both Hemie and myself for getting through it as a team.
Even though we didn’t do dressage (I’ve only had 1 dressage lesson on him to date), we did tack up and ride around in the warm-up arena when lots of others were warming-up for their dressage tests. It was Hemie’s first time in a busy warm-up arena (at our last 2 shows, there was only one other person warming up at the same time we were). This time there were over 10 horses warming up at the same time, including children and green horses and yelling trainers and start whistles and bells and all sorts of commotion and hubub. It was exactly what I wanted. Bohemian was a bit nervous but we worked through it. He got a bit stuck but we worked through it, and before too long he relaxed his body and moved forward freely. He even was able to walk around on the buckle.
Small note: the dressage arena next to the warm up arena used a type of cow bell as its start signal. When Hemie first heard it, he coiled his body like a cat ready to pounce. Or more accurately, like a racehorse ready for start gates to shoot open! Luckily he caught on pretty quick that we were NOT there to race, though.
Okay, so our first round was Intro BN, up to a max height of 1’8″. We had 11 jumps total. Small enough where we could jump them from a stand-still (which we ended up doing like twice). Some of them were *H*O*T* colors. We’re talking electric blue and eye-scrunching orange. Maybe they had a sale at the paint store – I dunno, but it defiantly made the jumps interesting to look at. I took a nice long approach to the start poles, trotted him to the first jump, where he tried to exit-stage-right towards home, but a small tap and a squeeze and we got over it. Jump #2 was our first halt, but it was nice and square so I just squeezed him over it. The jump judge was gracious and didn’t count it as a refusal even though I’m fairly certain we were completely halted. We made it through the course like cringe-worthy children you see at these small schooling shows. Lots of hesitation, sliding out, change in rhythm, but darn it – we got through!
Our second round, Easy BN (up to 2’3″) was much better. I figured out how to use my right leg to stop the right slide, and he was overall much more brave. The course was almost identical – a top pole was added to the stadium standards and a few of the solid jumps swapped to slightly bigger ones. He knocked down the top rail of the first fence, but he didn’t make that mistake twice and cleared everything else. We were much more steady in our approaches and our rhythm overall, but it was still not nearly as “hunter”-ish as we are at home.
Since there were only 2 entrants in each of my rounds, I came away with our very first ribbons! Two delightful reds that will need to find a fitting home in my new house. Videos and photos soon to come (need to confiscate my husband’s phone tonight after work).
I was incredibly blessed to have an entire support team for our first XC-ish competition. THANK YOU to our trainer, Laurie Canty. Congrats and thanks to my barn mates Ariel, Jeannette, and Ashley. Thanks to my amazing husband, fabulous mom, and wonderful friends who made it out in the heat and dust to support us.