Wednesday, October 13, 2021

MDHT Jumping

Whew, onto the fun part -- the second half of Charlie's and my long awaited return to an actual proper 3-phase event: the jumping!!! Complete with legit as many photos from GRC (used with purchase) that I could realistically squeeze in haha ;)

gratuitous photos will be gratuitous, sorry not sorry!
I'd walked both the cross country and show jumping courses after volunteering the day before, so the break between dressage and jumping was basically spent just trying to relax and stay calm. It unfortunately had not stopped drizzling but... Eh, at least it had warmed up a little bit. We got ready at an unhurried pace, and headed over to warm up just as things were getting started. 

legit almost got lost trying to find this jump after the in-and-out
Charlie and I were the first to go, which meant I didn't see the course ridden at all (had missed it the day prior since I was out on XC all day). It looked straight forward enough, tho. Aside from a slightly short 2-stride, the other lines were all in the 7+ stride range. Which is basically unrelated, more or less -- esp when there's a bend in the line, as there was from 5-6. 

such a star!
I definitely felt a twinge of imposter syndrome walking the course -- it all looked so big and fancy and formal compared to the small intimate stuff we've been doing at Thornridge. But actually, Thornridge has probably been the perfect preparation: jumping in that small tumultuous grass ring with all manner of crazy twisting bending lines made this big ring feel downright generous. 

Charlie aced his warm up, including clobbering one vertical despite hitting a decent distance. Something I admit to being *quite* happy about, since maybe he'd remember that feeling in the ring. And? Guys, Charlie jumped the snot out of the course. 

Really -- watch the video and really see how much he uses his neck and body over each jump. He really really tried, even when we got a little long to jump 2, and when the in-and-out rode a little short. It felt amazing, and I was so so proud of him <3 And we jumped clear, omg! 

"omg we are actually doing this"
I'm also proud to say that while I sorta objectively mused that "I could stop now if I wanted," like we'd done at Shawan (withdrawing after a lovely show jump round), I actually didn't want to. I was ready to try for cross country. Which... was also an oddly reassuring feeling. 

first 3 fences were BN size. charlie don't care tho <3
The warm up fences all looked great -- they had the BN, N and T log rolls that Charlie's jumped a million times, plus some other stuff. I love a nice soft round but chunky jump for warm up, so that looked good. Plus, again, I'd be first out on course, so it was just a matter of waiting for all the jump judges to get in position and test out their new scoring app

This actually.... Took a few minutes. And normally I'm kinda mentally in a big hurry to proceed directly to the xc course. But the extra 15min felt welcome, for whatever reason. We caught our breath, stood around, walked around, relaxed, and then -- when it was time, jumped the N and then the T log roll, and hit the start box. 

kinda love the black background effect here
Charlie knew, guys. He knew. He hit the ground running, and caught jump 1 nicely out of stride. As is his habit, he got a little behind the bridle on the way to jump 2... almost daring me to goad him into a 'tar-pit' moment. Luckily, tho, jump 2 was a distance away, and in the meantime he became distracted by a golf cart, then locked on to the jump himself. 

Which was nice, bc the jump was literally right next to the giant gaping chasm of an intermediate ditch haha, which caught out many many horses all weekend, and the weekend before at the championships. Charlie didn't care, tho, and jumped it well. 

lends to the intensity of the moment: approaching the first proper question on course
Ditto jump 3 -- the third BN-sized fence in a row -- despite spooking at some oblivious course walkers who didn't understand how to get the F off the track for approaching horses... Sigh. Jump 4 was our first proper N fence, and looked imposing on my walk, even tho we've jumped it a million times. 

It was fine, tho, and actually Charlie impressed me by coming right back for our first of three downhill runs toward home. We basically came straight down out of the darkness in the picture above, before rising up again to the top water, where a fairly aggressive question awaited us. 

ok so this was not a perfect distance -- but it was nbd
Again, due to the extreme volunteer shortage they squished the course together to make life easier for jump judge coverage. Thus, after jumping 3 BN and 1 N fence, we arrived at jump 5: the N boat perched high above the water on a somewhat rakish angle, originally used on the M and T courses (as part of combinations). 

I about choked when I saw it on the course walk... But... I also knew Charlie's done bigger versions of the same question. He'd be fine. And he was fine -- and actually quite catty with making sure he fit in the last step after missing the distance. 

a surprising number of stops at this table all weekend long
That section of the course was intense tho, bc landing from the boat pointed you straight at warm up -- but you had to turn away toward another big roll top (that again had been relocated for easier judging), and then land and keep turning to another big roll top -- the cut out table above. 

This one was an option right next to the down bank that Charlie and I have jumped before but... Eh, no need to do that on this particular day, thanks! Oddly, a LOT of horses had stops at this roll top. Maybe since it's positioned on a short turn away from warm up? Plus disorganization might have crept in after three rapid fire jumps in a row, so maybe horses just weren't getting there very well? Charlie was fine tho -- once he saw the jump, he jumped the jump. 

second water!!!!
We got a little breather after that to cruise toward the second water, that just had a single flag at the entrance and nothing else. In retrospect, I should have used this time to let go and relax a bit, and let off the e-brake. 

omg his face tho <3
But.... The next set of jumps at 9 and 10 were another result of the jump-squish situation, and were (imho) straight up stupid. It was an "L" shaped turn from a small BN corner at 9 to the lattice vertical at 10, with the lattice on the short end of the "L" -- and a massive wooden pillar in the elbow, so you couldn't just slice straight across instead of doing the "L."

honestly had the e-brake on basically the whole ride...
Basically everyone rode a circle between those two jumps the day prior, and I figured we'd probably do the same. Tho... I kinda had it in my mind that I wouldn't make a final decision until we were jumping the corner itself. This was probably a stupid thought, tho, bc it's part of why kept Charlie so wrapped up through this part of the course. I should have just let go, knowing we'd fly over the corner and then have to do a circle. 

what a star to the slightly downhill narrow wedge!!
Ah well, tho, this is what being rusty is all about!! Anyway, we executed that portion just fine, then moved on toward the second downhill run toward home haha, this time populated with two slightly technical fences. First: the narrow roll top wedge that Charlie's jumped plenty before. Tho, I really did not take any chances here. 

seriously the goodest boy <3 i look at these pictures and can't understand why i get so worried....
Then we continued to the even steeper downhill section where there was a narrow blue vertical house. Again, Charlie's jumped all these jumps before, but I've also seen the houses catch horses off guard. 

lol oh my lord i HATE jumping downhill
Obvi part of what I need to relearn about riding this horse cross country is.... Yes, absolutely keep supporting him the whole way around. But ya know. Trust him too, haha. Because Charlie takes care of me, even if that kinda means dragging me along as he goes LOL! 

100% will never jump that absurd intermediate trakehner in the background
Anyway. This next section of course had also been improvised a bit, and after jumping straight downhill toward home, we had to make a hard left turn, straight back UPhill into the woods again. Charlie, in his boundless enthusiasm, kinda missed the turn at first. I had hoped to use the little stone dust service road, but ended up having to settle for the steeper grassy hill instead. Luckily it wasn't too torn up or rain slicked yet! 

will jump this table for dayyyyyys tho <3
Once in the woods, we made our way around the final little segment of the course -- catching first a little cedar log oxer that is a little too show-jump-y for my tastes, then this BN table. I would have preferred the N version of the same table, but they are honestly both lovely fences to jump and we found a good distance. 

heading home, somewhat unbelievably 
Then just three fences to go: starting with a chonky red roll right up at the top of the hill, leading into the long descent to the finish line. Obvi I knew we were gonna.... er, fly home. And obvi then we saw a big one to the roll top, whoops haha. So.... haha.... we kinda careened down the hill, before I could kinda get a "WHOA!" through to Charlie, ever gung ho haha. 

Penultimate fence was the nice big N ark that we've jumped a ton, and luckily we found enough balance to jump that in a reasonably civilized fashion. Then the last jump was the BN produce stand, imo a somewhat unfairly small fence to put at the bottom of such a screaming descent haha. It was fine tho, and then it was over!!

Whew, holy moly what a ride haha. Hahaha. This horse, guys, he really is something. It's really not clear at all that he fully understands what this cross country thing is all about, ya know? He knows how to jump the jumps and answer the questions, but for everything else he's just like, "Uh, so, why tho? So we just get home as quickly as possible?

And it makes for a somewhat distracted feeling in the ride. Obviously if I can get Charlie to the jumps, he jumps the jumps. And he definitely DOES draw to the jumps, he does take me to them. But... he's not always looking for them, not always expecting them, and definitely not always easy to turn or steer lol. 

But, eh, what else should I expect given that we just don't.... do this very often, right? Considering the circumstances, I'm honestly pretty pleased. He's a good boy, he took care of me, and we made it happen. Could we do better? Should we do better? Yea, probably lol. That's my problem tho, haha, and something I'll deal with later. For now, this is enough <3


  1. You got some amazing pictures! So proud of you both :)

    1. dude, GRC really hit it out of the park with their coverage this weekend!! i guess that's another benefit of squishing the courses all together, they can shoot more jumps??

  2. Amazing pics! I would have all of my pics printed and covering my wall if it were me. Lol ;-)

    I'm so happy that you had a good day overall! Charlie looks great jumping (such a hunk. lol).

    1. thanks -- i'm so glad it turned out to be a good day too, haha. it was hard, definitely hard, but i think worth it <3

  3. Omg I'm obsessed with every single one of these pics!

    1. i'm pretty obsessed too, not gonna lie LOL

  4. No wonder you had a hard time just picking out a few photos- you both look amazing. What a way to end on a high note (:

    1. ha, around these parts we NEVER try to pick out just a "few" photos!! i'm an unapologetic media junkie LOL

  5. SO many great pics! Charlie is jumping so well! Sounds like a great ride, congrats!

    1. he really was such a good boy. there's always more i want from myself, but i'm eternally grateful that he's so reliable and predictable

  6. LOVE those pictures, what a good boy!!!!

  7. Wow, Emma, this is amazing! You two look fantastic in all of your pictures! I have not ridden XC in a decade but this totally makes me want to do it again. Congratulations on a successful show!!

  8. Congrats! What a good boy, he has really come along for you. I can understand the unsettling feeling when they don't "get" XC, but he is such a good boy for doing it anyway. Great pics too, A+ for turnout in the rain!

  9. Looking so good! Love the photos.

  10. You both look incredibly happy and that is awesome to see! Yay Emma and Charles!

  11. Woohoo! You both look so happy.

  12. Yesssss all the jumping media! I am HERE FOR IT. You guys look great and I love that galloping through water photo. Bad ass.


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