Alright CANADA!!!! Now it’s ON. I am so glad I went first thing in the day. I hate that sick feeling you get when you are nervous for cross country. Can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t function really. I walked the course early around 8am. Realized when I got to start I didn’t have my pinny. You aren’t allowed to walk course without it. So had to bike back for that. Then realized I didn”t have my Dubbary’s on and the grass was wet from melting frost. Yes I said FROST! YUCK.
Decided I am an eventer and don’t mind cold wet feet… so off I went. I like to walk it alone early in the morning when no one is riding yet. It allows me to walk the exact lines I will ride to save time. Each time I walk a jump, I go to the start in my mind and picture each of the jumps till the one I just walked. So I go over the course about 26 times in my head. I say the number of strides inbetween combinations as well…so I don’t forget them. Even for what seem to be unrelated distances such as fences 3 and 4 today. It walks as 11 strides. That way I am less likely to take a tug where it’s not needed. I also walked the strides between the birch rails “in” at the second part of “the head of the lake” and the island. Obviously you may or may not get those strieds depending on what happens at the time. But I find if I have a positive number in my head I ride more forward.
It was comforting to hear that the first horse on course had gone clean and under the time. I wasn’t sure if the time would be hard or not, because when we walked the course it looked like it might be tight. I decided if I was up on the clock or if Mr. C didn’t feel right I would take the long route at jump number 26 “the Landrover angled hedges”. He felt fantastic in the warm up. Strong and seeing great take off spots. I angled over the warm up corner and narrow fence every which way I could think of. He didn’t miss a beat. So off we went to the start box. Right out of the box I went as quick as I could. Never let up on him for the whole course. Went as quick as I could jump the fences safely.
Fence one felt great. Fence two is a huge table no problem. The two hedge boxs on a bending line fences 3 and 4. I got a long spot into the first water fence 5. Slipped my reins as it was a huge drop. Gathered them back up without ever taking my eye off the fish in the middle. Then a direct three strides to the king fisher on the way out. Met number 6 on a great gallop wasting no time. I tried not to steady him to early into the coffin or I would be wasting valuable time. Made him jump in over “A”, then imediatly put my eye on “C the corner out. Let him jump the ditch, then sat up and rode the line with everything I had till he jumped the corner. He got a pat for that one:)
Blast up the hill to fence 8A the basket. Jumped that a little right to left so I could fit in the eight strides on a bending line to the left handed corner “B” the wishing well. When I landed off that I thought to myself with a smile on my face…WOW that felt easy. Then I was off! I was really worried about that fence. 9A and B was a nice bending three strides between hay racks. Then gallop over the fallen tree across the ditch. LOVELY fence…so beautifuly carved. MAde sure I galloped up the next hill slightly left of center so as not to waste time turning left to number 11 a cabin down hill. Turn right to get striaght for 12A and B, double left handed open corners 2 strides apart. He felt great thru there. We have practised that so much.
Should have gone to the right of the trees there on the way up the hill. My bad. Let him take a breath at the top of the hill. Then wind him up on the turn to get a little power for number 13 at the Quarry. Over that and six quick strides up the other side and he flew high out over the C element. Let the down hill help me gallop him fast to the Violin fence number 14. The only breather fence on the course as far as I could tell. Then let the hill carry us again to the sunken road. Gather him on the turn and create some energy for the bounce in over the rail, down the step, one stride and up a bank, two strides and out over quite a wide cabin. Made sure we galloped nice and forward away from the fence on a bending line so we could easily fly across the massive ditch and wall wasting little time.
As we crossed the road to the Head of the Lake I gave a couple good tugs. The “in” was a skinny hedge with the top carved so you had to jump right in the center. It was angled away from the bank so you had a large gap you were jumping across as well. Five strides to the up bank. Which I must admit I took and extra tug and rode in six. Then one stride up the bank and over the goose. Staright towards the biggest crowd I have ever seen, bending left and in over birch rails at the edge of a steep hill back into the water. Turn left in approx 11 strides? Can’t remember? Up a bank onto a bounce island and jump a ramp off back into the water. Well Colombo must have lowered his landing gear a little early because I heard the entire crowd suck there breath in. All I felt was a slight hitch in our get-a-long. I sat up and started creating the power thru the water we would need to make the island happen. Just to be sure I gave him a tap with my whip on top of the island and he jumped right back into the water for me. What a good boy.
Next fence was a big table flew across that. Number 20 was a nasty corner and it was in the shade. It was low but very wide with a very sharp angle at the front. I respected that fence. Used the hill to pick up speed. Used the turn to slow him a little for the giant log off a right turn…then down the hill and up over the brush into water 5 strides left to another brush fence…the narrow section. 23 and 24 were angled cabins off a right turn. I feel I did a good job getting my line. Maybe could have used more pace? Started off striaght, but definetly drifted left in the one stride inbetween. So the second cabin was a MEGA stretch for him. He does drift left somtimes so I should have counter acted it more then I did. Pick a spot where you want to land. I remembered that for the first cabin but not the second obviously! Luckily I have a clever horse with MEGA scope:)
After that drift I was sure I was going to take the long route and 26. Nice leap over 25 the cabin. I made the right choice at 26 the agnled hedges. I was already worried about them. Humungous ditches infront of skinny agled hedges 3 strides apart. As I came down the hill to the option he was leaning towards home with his left shoulder. I strightened him up with a sharp kick jumped over the first, turned around the landrover to the left and jumped the second no problem. Raced home…remembering to respect the two last fences as they were wide and on a right handed turn.
I was so happy when went thru the finish flags. I had made the time and done my job for Canada and all my team (that includes support staff, friends, family, owners, fans, u name it)
Fingers X for tomorrow;)