After cross country we had a decent break, almost 2 hours. By the time we made it back to the trailer the TWH was looking much more chipper so I untacked him and let him graze while waiting on my friend. As he grazed he returned to his more normal self and about 20 minutes later my friend came back to the trailer. She didn't do as well and had 2 refusals but finished and I reminded her of Bad Eventer's motto, It's always better to finish with a number instead of a letter!. We let the horses graze for a good while before tying up to the trailer and meandering over to watch the stadium jumping of the other divisions.
The Novice division was going when we got there and it was pretty bad, jump 4 was being knocked down by almost every horse. While talking with someone we both knew, they said that jump was hard because there is a decent downhill slope after fence 3, you have to turn almost 90 degrees and get the horse in front of your leg to then jump uphill over fence 4. Yowsers. When the course was finally opened up for the beginner novice coursewalk my friend and I walked through it. The only way I could see to make it was to be absolutely straight, apply lots of leg and try to jump higher than the actual jump. I had been telling my friend that if we were going to lose our placings, we would lose it in stadium as it is what we aren't able to practice the least since I have such a small arena. I said it again, I was nervous of how stadium would go, I wasn't sure if TWH could do it. We meandered back to the trailer and started getting ready.
Stadium jumping is usually run in reverse order of placing so that the person in first place goes last. Today, however, they were going in numerical order which made it impossible for me to keep track of everyone's placings. It also meant we were 2nd to go! I warmed up and he was tired. Really tired. I threw him over the warmup oxer a couple of times and the second time he rapped his front leg really hard. Enough that he took some yellow paint as a souvenir on his hoof. It seemed to really help, however, as that seemed to have woken him up! He suddenly was more forward and alert and he jumped the oxer two more times without touching it.
We headed into the ring and I walked him around the jump I thought he would be most spooky at and he wasn't reactive. Good, hopefully he is being desensitized! Fence 1 was uphill so I started the course by chasing him over each fence and kept it up over all 10 fences. He was certainly tired and I didn't want to chance any faults so at the base of each jump he got a squeeze, spur and/or a growl or kiss. Fence 2 he rapped but it didn't come down and he also rapped fence 4 but it also stayed up. Fence 5 was a 2 stride that he took with ease though fence 6 required a pretty sharp turn back to get to. A good hard chase over the jump got us to a 4 stride of fence 7/8. Fence 9 was easy but required another hard turn/bending line to fence 10 and the finish line. I missed the line for the bending line so I yanked him into the turn, jumped it straight and then turned again to the finish line. A quick glance at my watch indicated we were 5 seconds under time, OMG we just went double clear!
After the division they started handing out placings, I knew I was tied for 5th after dressage but I had no idea what happened since. I just knew we had went double clear in both cross country and stadium (that means we were clear in the time allowed and we were clear with no jumping faults). They read off 8th, 7th, 6th. I got a little excited when I didn't get 5th and my mouth dropped when I didn't get 4th. I ended in 3rd place at our first Horse Trial! I am so pleased and proud of my cremello beast it is hard to put into words.
One of the debates I have been having is if I should get a third horse, something more suitable for what I want to do. I am now looking at it as yes, he has odd trot steps that gets comments about it in every dressage test and is not a perfect match for what I want to do. However. He is riding well enough that he has now placed in the top 3rd of his class in each of his shows. We may never win 1st because of his trot but is 3rd good enough? Well, right now it is. We won't ever go Training level but we should be able to go Novice level. I will keep an eye out for the perfect option but for now I am pretty dang happy with my gaited partner to do eventing. Go us!