Ok, so we made it through dressage. I had a xc start time of 4:09 pm, not a time anyone was envious of. I spent much of the day pacing, cleaning my stall, walking Georgie, and watching other rides. I tried really hard not to sit around stressing, and I managed. To a degree.
So, the xc course was accesible by jumping in your car and driving 10 minutes or by walking about 30-40 minutes through the woods. I tried both ways, and am glad I did. The walk included a trek down an enormous hill. That meant our horse would have to come back up said hill after our xc ride. I figured I would take Georgie’s saddle off and have a nice walk home with her post xc.
We headed over to xc at about 3:20pm. I figured we would have a nice walk where I could think about my course, do some thinking about my minute markers and visualize myself running the course perfectly. Georgie had a completely different idea. She was a FREAK on the way over. She spooked at EVERYTHING. One would have thought I had just walked her out of the box she had spent the last 11 years living in. At one point, she spooked so badly and jarred my back that I screamed out “YOU BETTER BELIEVE THAT IF I FALL OFF BEFORE WE EVEN GET THERE I AM GOING TO BE SUPER PISSED.” It did nothing to calm either of us, and even better two riders came trotting up behind us (Georgie spooked at them) and asked if everything was ok.
“Totally,” I lied. I let them trot by and Georgie lost it. She reared, spun and spooked. I decided to let her canter up to them and asked if I could finish the walk with them. They were super gracious and we all walked to xc together, chatting about the course and how excited we were. Thanks ladies, you are the reason I love the competitors in this sport.
So, warm up was a cluster, but Georgie had regained her brain and it went pretty well. She was still amped, but she wasn’t a brainless mess.
And then it was time to walk to the startbox. Who doesn’t start to feel the adrenaline at this point? Georgie and I walked around until we heard “10, 9, 8”. I turned my watch on at 5 seconds and kicked her out of the box when we heard “have a good ride.” I didn’t need to kick. Georgie TOOK OFF. I think between the kick, which I don’t usually do as I let her lope to the first jump, and the fact that she was already amped from the walk over, she was on fire. I honestly tried to slow her down, but I really couldn’t. So, I let her gallop. I supported her with my leg and just let her go at the pace she wanted. Jump 5 was an ABC coffin combo. I got her back a bit to it and let her gallop through without issue. We had a long lovely gallop to 6 and gallop we did. Our minute markers were on point if not a little behind so I kept up the pace. But, by minute marker 3, we were well ahead of the marker, which has NEVER happened to me. We had a big table that made me nervous and a skiny-ish house, but she flew over both so I kept her going. The water was easy, once I got her back a bit to make a sharp turn, and the only jump that was a bit intimidating was a rolltop to a 5 stride to a chevron. It was a little sticky, as Georgie shortened and looked at it, but it was totally fine. The optimum time was 5:14. When I stopped my watch it read 4:45.We never made the 5th minute marker alarm. We were the fastest team on course. And I am not saying that as something to brag about. I am saying it as “WTF??” Apparently I am over my fear of going fast and “what ifs.” Apparently Georgie is fit because she was as much of a freak on the “walk” home as she was on the way over there. I ended up riding her because she was so full of it and thankfully we found someone to walk home with so she would stop spooking and being a nut job.
The adrenaline rush which is running xc. And going fast. And trusting your horse utterly and completely. I mentioned to a friend that I could have never gone that speed on a horse I didn’t trust was going to jump. But not once did I think Georgie would stop or run out. And that makes her worth her weight in gold. And makes our partnership so much more special. As bratty and opinionated as she was walking over and back, she made up for it ten times over when we were actually out on course.
So, after xc there’s always stadium jumping. And I think that in true eventing fashion, I’m going to save that for a third blog. Oh the excitement!
Nadia and Georgie