For stadium that afternoon, our times were far enough apart to take Eugene and Levi up separately, but that created it’s own issues, which I’ll get to in a moment. One of the things we’ve learned over the last year is that Eugene needs very little warm up for Stadium. In fact, the more practice jumps you do, the worse he gets. He’s gotten so much stronger and better at jumping, but he still has a limited number of good jumps in him at a time.
It’s a long walk from stabling to the arenas which is nice for letting the horses stretch their legs and chill their minds. We got Eugene tacked up and headed up to the arena early, but then just walked him around for a while. When it was time, they did some trotting and cantering to get Eugene’s muscles warmed up and popped over a few practice jumps. Then we spent some time watching people ride the course to see how it was flowing.
The course was pretty easy: not a lot of tight turns, no scary looking jumps, a lack of scary line along the judge’s booth or anything that would spook Eugene. There was also only the one combination. It was a two stride though and we were a bit worried he might try to chip in a 3rd.
Then it was time to go in. I think I might have been more nervous than my husband. I certainly managed to do a terrible job of taking pictures because I was trying to also watch him ride.
Eugene was super excited to be jumping though and flew over that first jump.
The turn from #2 to #3 was tough. If you wanted a straight approach to #3 you really needed to go down the line after #2 and make a sharper turn instead of turning more smoothly from #2 to #3 but having to slice #3 or straighten out at the last moment. Eugene really needs a straight approach at this point. They had a bit of a tap at #3, but everything stayed up.
#4 was right next to the judge’s box, but the box at Fresno is set back and there isn’t usually a large crowd standing around it so Eugene was fine.
I really thought they were going to take out #5 as Eugene just casually strolled over it, but it stayed up.
The 6th jumps is the fun safari decoration jump.We watched a few horses take issue with the jump and thought it was just the poles, but what you can’t see from the viewing side is that it’s fronted by blue/teal “greenery.” Eugene was so busy staring at it, he got in really close and had to make a big effort to clear it, but it stayed up.
Then it was around to the combination at #7. As I mentioned, I was probably more nervous than my husband and I know that combinations are where Eugene’s had rails before. I was so busy trying to watch them go, I didn’t actually center the camera on them. It was never going to be a great shot anyway since there are like 3 jumps in the way, but I’m still annoyed with myself. More importantly, they got the 2 strides and were clear.
OMG. Now they just had one jump left. I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement. I wanted to actually see them go over the last jump so I just pointed the camera and held the shutter down for burst mode. I took 20 shots of the last jump without any horse in the frame.
Then Eugene finally showed up and was like “Imma awkwardly hurl my legs over this in a manner specifically designed to make Olivia panic.” And it worked. But he was clear!
Their first clear round at a rated event! F*ck yeah! Kate and I both met him at the gate to congratulate him. And of course Eugene freaked out because he’s never seen me before in his life and went flying sideways, but I eventually got close enough to congratulate my husband. This has been a long time coming. It’s been especially hard when Eugene was going to schooling shows and go clear, but still have a rail down at rated events. My husband has had a goal of going clear in stadium for a while now and was so happy with his little Mustang to have finally achieved it.
Although going clear was it’s own reward, as a bonus, it moved them all the way up to 6th place.
Back at the stables, we found that Levi had been pawing and digging a hole to China in his stall. He’d managed to dig out enough of a hole to expose the metal beam running along the ground line and then bashed hit foot into that for a while. He had the tiniest spot of blood on him. Dammit horse. The blood wiped off with a towel so I wasn’t worried about it. Seriously, it was the amount of blood you’d get from a paper cut. What I was concerned about was it’s location right above his hoof. Right where his side bone is.
I didn’t have much time though so I tacked him up and rode up to the warm up arena. He was sound, but he was being weird. He was doing his I’d prefer to walk and canter only and not trot thing. I did force him to trot and asked Kate who agreed he looked sound, but not like his normal self. We decided to do the bare minimum of warm up and then get him around the course. We would scratch him in the morning before XC if he was off the next day. Luckily, the intro jumps are super tiny and Levi could step over them so a lot of warm up wasn’t necessary.
The second jump was also small, but apparently needed a lot of eyeing and careful foot management to avoid potential danger:
I dropped my right rein going over the jump because I was trying to slip the reins instead of just moving my hands forward because I am terrified of moving my hands forward but that’s a long story for another day. It took me a moment to get the rein back and then I was past where I’d planned to turn which made the already difficult turn to #3 even more intense, but we made it around to #3 where we got in as close as possible.
Seriously – his back legs are almost touch the poles. I have no idea how he got over this without touching it even if it is tiny. Then it was on to #4.
And then for #5 we finally took a non deep spot. Which I rewarded him for by keeping my hands as high in the air as I could.
Luckily, Levi had seen the scary safari jump during schooling rounds so he didn’t freak out about it. He wasn’t going to touch it though.
The only change to the Intro course (aside from height) compared to BN was the removal of the B part of 7. Thank COD because I don’t we’d have made it over a second jump when the first one went this badly. Remember that whole don’t lean thing I said I learned?
And around to #8, which we got super close to but jumped fine,
We were double clear. When we did Intro here in November the time was much more demanding and we had time penalties. This time I managed to take longer and I was still like 10 seconds under time. I watched someone trot almost the entire course and be under time. The Intro time was 113 seconds compared to the BN time of 94. Because the jumps were so tiny and the time so generous there were no faults in my entire division.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s thrilling conclusion to this trilogy.