|All fence photos taken from coursewalk.com. This was actually how the first fence appeared in our course walk...they thankfully removed the top log about 10 minutes before we left the start box, making it perfect for a surefooted pony to climb over!|
Jump 2 was a little log going up the big hill and while a little sticky, went ok.
Jump 3 was another small log pile at the top,of the hill. The line you needed to take involved heading straight uphill to a spectator area with a tent and some scaffolding for a platform for the announcer, then making a hard 90 degree turn with room for about three strides before a little log pile. The combination of the distraction of the spectator area and the uphill/away from home approach combined with the ground line disappearing a little behind the fence caused a lot of problems, us among the victims. A refusal there because she was distracted by the surroundings and I don't think she really saw the jump until too late. We circled and jumped it no problem the second time.
|Like so...unfortunately slightly too big for me to feel comfortable making Midge to jump from a standstill.|
Jump 4 was a bigger log pile with lots of flowers decorating it this year. She looked hard, but by now I had my inner 7 year old channeled and we got over.
Jumps 5 and 6 were more logs on a big bending line heading downhill. 5 sat beside a ditch, but no challenge there for pony.
|this might not even be the right jump 6...all I remember is it was yet another log near the forest :)|
Next was a nice long gallop through the trees, downhill over probably the biggest jump on course, and onwards to the far bottom corner of the property before hanging a right back up the hill to surprise! more raised telephone pole logs. The only tiny challenge here in this field might have been the fairly busy truck route adjacent and the weird lighting coming in and out of the trees...if your horse hasn't seen a busy road or is generally spooky alone in a trail type situation you might be in trouble.
Jump 12 was sort of sneaky, hidden between a large hedge and a HUGE brush fence and not really visible until you got fairly close to it. Midge thought I was nuts to point her towards that huge brush, but then was happy when a few strides out our jump became a little more obvious.
Jumps 13 and 14 were a little 4 stride line of baby logs maybe 2' high. By now, Midge had her game face on and I was really starting to enjoy myself.
After 14, I saved a big wide turn and took a short cut through the water. Since that went just fine, we took the option of going through the second water rather than jumping 15. Actually a bit of a game time decision because by now we had pretty much caught up with the person in front of us and they appeared to be potentially stuck at jump 15. So, taking the water route was doubly wise. It also set us up very nicely for the one jump on course I wasn't sure what Midge would think of, a little log palisade type thing about 5 strides out of the water. It was on a bit of an uphill and the way it was built I think made it appear much more substantial than anything else out there. I've seen the preview of the pro photos and Midge was taking no chances with it either and over jumped it by a foot or so lol.
|This year's starter fence 16, a mini palisade|
17 was our final jump, in the form of yet another friendly log.
I finished super happy with the pony, while I wouldn't say she was super keen, over the course I think she figured her job out and was quite happy to canter around and jump all the things. Her little ears look happy in all the pics I've seen so far (and yes, I am ordering some and will be sharing here)
I think the level was appropriate for a first outing, and while I think the course was tougher than most expected, I was happy to have the opportunity to give the pony experience with water and terrain. I also think the obstacles were wisely placed, everything from the pretend drop fence to the brush that wasn't and the ditch that was actually a log...super confidence building for everyone!
Since the weather was baking hot and I wanted Midge to have fun, I wasn't worried about time or penalties, my goal was simply to get around and end with a happy, confident pony who wasn't too tired. Mission accomplished :)
When we went to the vet check, Midge was only worried about eating grass, so the vet waved us through..."she's a pony and she's eating, I think she's fine ;)"
And, since I did of course check scores once the weekend was over, I can tell you we obviously had the 20 penalties for reattempting fence 3 and a further 20 time due to our adventures on the first part of the course where I didn't rush her in favour of letting her look and figure it all out. That sounds like a lot, I know, but we only dropped down from 10th to 11th place. XC must have claimed a lot of victims!