Cross country ran immediately after stadium. I grabbed a quick drink of water and then headed straight over to warm up over the tiny house they had available. Eeyore popped over it without fuss, so we headed to the start box with 35 seconds to go.
I’ve never been counted down before and thought it would make me want to vomit. In truth, I sauntered in at the count of 10, circled at a walk and then trotted out without a care in the world. I was ready. I was more than ready.
Eeyore popped into a canter away from the start box and we headed to fence 1 like we have done this before. He was such a champ and so game to be out running and jumping that it made my heart swell and a grin split my face.
After fence one it was a longish canter to the next field with my next fence and Eeyore was still game to move forward as we made our way to the cabin at 2. Dusty was on picture duty and with the course being so spread out we had to make an executive decision on what fences to get. I wanted the start, water and end. In retrospect I really wish he had skipped the water and went 1 to 2 to 5 but oh well. He really busted his butt to run to the water after fence 1.
After fence 2 we ran into an issue. Eeyore was done. It was an insanely long canter through a pasture which housed a bunch of fences for the other divisions and then down a long sandy lane and he quit on me. I really wish there had been more tadpole fences to keep his interest because he really didn’t see the reason behind working that hard to run away from all the other horses when there wasn’t anything to even jump.
By the time we were half way down that sandy lane I was pony club kicking him to keep him in a trot. Fence 3 with a nice log that caught his attention and he picked up a canter right before it but it was a lot of work on my part. There was no getting in 2 point and coasting.
Dusty missed fence 3 behind the trees but if you listen with the volume up you can hear the jump judges making fun of our sloth like progress into the field and down to the water.
I really wanted a picture of us cantering through it. It is one of two bucket list pictures I want on cross country. It was not meant to be this day. We came over the log at 3 and slowly cantered towards the water. We came to the water and nearly slammed on the breaks, then entered and thought about drinking, but I kept his butt moving through and onward.
There were a few BN jumps I really liked the looks of after the water but once there I had no horse under me. He was still game to jump what I put in front of him but that pesky little incident at FENCE where he just would not move between fences came back to haunt us yet again. I made the decision to keep his feet moving and get this course done knowing that what I had left was going to be really hard terrain. Its so odd because generally my attention is spent trying to slow his roll yet out on cross country he acts like a sloth stuck in peanut butter on a cold day. My brain can’t reconcile the two.
We got out of that field and it became a war of wills to keep him moving. He wanted to walk. WALK. On cross country?!? WTH horse?!?! In dressage all you wanted to do was be a race horse, then in stadium you took the bit and ran off and now, now that you finally get to gallop to your little heart is full of it, you ask to walk?
It was partly fitness related. We had done a lot that weekend and he was feeling it but mostly it was attitude and a whole lot of not seeing the point of continuing on when nobody could see him, he was all alone in the world and this was starting to feel less like fun and more like work to the Orange Butthead.
Finally, we made it through the hills and around a sharp curve to see fence 5 which was a log shared with BN. You can hear me on the video talking to him and nearly pleading with him to just keep going.
When we passed through the finish flags I was elated and a tad defeated. I was so so so proud of us. We did it. We completed our first horse trial and all our hard work paid off. But also…that xc run sucked. The fences were fine. No issue. But the in between? I’m telling you all that when Eeyore isn’t on board with the plan it sucks and he was certainly not on board with that course.
Trainer AB came over and gave me a big hug for completing. She saw where we came from and witnessed my first show and she was beaming like she was my own mom (who by the way called me a loser for coming in last so…). Her end analysis was that Eeyore has got to learn to quit being an asshat (ok thats my word) in warm up and learn to conserve energy for later. Seriously, we worked hard to get him to stop being a turd in warm up and it was all wasted energy.
I have so many thoughts and over arching opinions on this show and how it went that I’ll save for another day. I will leave you with this though. Upon getting back to the barn and getting Eeyore cooled off and settled so I could pack up and leave Wyatt looked at me and asked:
Mom, can we go to a real horse show now?
Way to keep me humble kiddo. Of course this was after he had already told me “that looks way better mom” when I changed from dressage clothes to my jumping outfit and then when someone called me badass for sleeping in a tent “she called you a badass? I’m shocked”
Kids – killing you softly with their words daily.