Sunday brought a pretty relaxing morning as our first ride wasn't until almost 11, that allowed me to get out of bed at 730a (on a weekend!) and get ready. The bath the previous night stuck around with the sheet and sleezy he was wearing so after a quick rebraiding he was ready to wrap and go. I got the the show in plenty of time and met my cheering section there, they helped me get all tacked up, dressed up and mounted for dressage. During warmup, however, I could tell that schooling cross country the day before was a bad idea. The TWH was uncharacteristically heavy, forward and dull to my aids. I had a hard time riding in the sand warm up area because of a couple of riders who wouldn't look at anything but their horses' ears, we were cut off and blindsided multiple times. We left the level sand and tried to ride off in the grass to settle the TWH down with no success. He was still very heavy and while I was able to bring his canter/trot transitions back, he was fighting me the entire way.
When one of the two troublesome riders left, I went back to the sand arena and worked more on my transitions. While doing so I met a gal who was riding a Rocky Mountain who trotted and paced, how cool! She was having lots of trouble with his canter, unfortunately I couldn't give her much advise as I said the TWH's canter was easy. It was his trot that I had issues with. I hadn't ever met another gaited rider at these events so it was super cool to see one, I hope I see her again.
It was finally our turn to go, the TWH was sooo heavy in the reins and was rushing so much and there wasn't anything I could do to fix it. We had a decent start though the first circle at A was small because he wouldn't listen to my inside leg to move out. Most likely had to do with my smaller arena, he was going at the size we practice at instead of the size I was dictating. The canter transition was really nice and the canter/trot transition was immediate. Success! The freewalk was almost non existent as he decided to almost trot in the middle instead of walking with his head forward and down. I guess I should have practiced that during warmup, I didn't so my bad. The last canter/trot transition went really well too except it felt like I was riding the App instead of the TWH with how much he was pulling on me. As a result we overshot the centerline for our final trot/halt/salute. Dang horse, too bad we couldn't have pulled it together. We were sitting in 6th out of 8.
We went back to the trailer and got him all ready for cross country, I have to say it was cool finally being able to use all the awesome stuff I have for cross country. Most of it I had bought last year and wasn't able to use due to being injured/recovering the entire year. I had a new vest, new jumping boots, new saddle pad, new 5 point breastplate, new breeches, new spurs and straps, I sure looked like I knew what I was doing! Cross country started off with him knocking down a crossrail pole on jump 2. I looked back in amazement because he typically doesn't knock poles so I decided instead of trying to ride to time we were going to ride for clear. As I approached each jump after that I stopped holding him and instead gave him a good solid nudge with my spurs. The rest of the course went smoothly with not a single issue. We came in at 4:37 but clear.
We went back to the trailer and untacked and let him have lunch. He had no interest in the water I brought him but enjoyed the brushing and hay. I chatted with my cheering crowd while I cleaned my tack and finally they announced the placings. Turns out I didn't get 6th. Or 5th. Or even 4th, we ended up 3rd!! Someone the pretty poor dressage score made up for 2 refusals and a fall. Also because it was a cross rail they didn't count the rail at fence 2 against us so we ended up 3rd. Go us! AND we likely wouldn't have gotten 1st or 2nd as our dressage score was a good 10 points higher than 2nd place so it worked out all around. I am so proud of my TWH and plan on giving him several days off as a reward.