I hung around at the dressage ring to watch my friend ride before heading back. I let the TWH walk all the way back to the trailer, hoping to conserve as much energy as possible for the day ahead. As a result, though, I again ran into time problems as a 15-20 minute ride turns into a 25-30 minute walk when you are walking back. Ugh! I tied the TWH up and let him eat hay while I changed clothes and ate a sandwich. I tried offering him water but because it wasn't water from home he refused to drink it, we are going to have to work on that. My friend came back from dressage about 10 minutes later and immediately went to walk the course, by the time I tacked up and left she hadn't returned. It was 15 minutes until my ride and 25 until hers, I am so glad I walked the course the day before!!
I trotted down to the XC warmup ring they were running about 10 minutes behind as well. Thank goodness!!! I immediately started throwing him over the stadium fences, first the crossrail and then the oxer. I then lined him up to one of the two cross country warm up fences and went for it. I sat far back, used a ton of leg, a little spur and kissed to him as we came up to it. He hesitated as he came up to the fence but for the first time ever he jumped the first xc jump he was pointed to. Success!! I had him go over it a second time while making a conscious effort to not yank on his face and I think I did a good job. I pointed him to the bigger, novice xc fence and repeated my aggressive riding and not only did he jump it, he didn't even hesitate. I was so happy that I called our warmup good, let him rest and walked over to the shade to wait for my turn to go.
We didn't have long, however, as there were only 2 riders in front of me. Before I knew it we were in the start box and heard the "Have a good ride!". Fence 1 was a basic log with a decent canter beside a big pond to a barn jump. After that was a canter up a pretty steep hill and I chased him over fence 3 as I was afraid he would be tired from the uphill run. Fence 4 was a coop that came up after going down a small slope of that hill and then 5 required a hard half halt, and open left rein to turn almost 45 degrees, jump a fence in the middle of a horse pasture and then out of the pasture. Fences 6 and 7 was a 2 stride we had schooled the weekend before and we had no issues though after 7 you had a pretty sharp turn to zig zag over to a designated road crossing. Fence 8 was an easy set of timbers before settling down into a trot to make a 90 degree turn over another road crossing. Fence 9 was a baby up bank that we had schooled down but not up the weekend before so I was aggressive and he went up with no issues. Fence 10 was another barn jump and 11 was a decent canter over to a rock wall. Fence 12 I chased him over really hard because it was the corner jump he had refused as the first xc jump the previous weekend and I didn't want to take any chances but he jumped it fine. We jumped Fence 13 easily and I was aggressive again over the ditch of 14 and I yelled at him to GO when we came to the water of 15 as he slowed wayyyy down and broke into a trot/gait but we had no stops.
When we jumped out of the water of 15 he had a randomly spooky moment. Over what? Who knows, there wasn't anything around us, the jump judge was probably 20-30 feet behind us and we were surrounded by nothing but grass but he suddenly went 3 strides to the left causing me to loose my stirrups. I became seriously ticked because I was going to be eliminated for a fall when I wasn't even at a dang jump (Isn't it funny how time goes so slow sometimes?), clamped on and hauled myself back to balance. I think I used his mane and his mouth but I think he deserved it if I did. I had only 4 strides before fence 16 and we jumped it with only my right stirrup and another growl/yell/hard spur. I got my left stirrup back about 5 strides after the jump and we finished with jump 17 at a time of 5:47, almost a minute faster than optimum time but still a good time and right on par with what most others ran. Success! I hopped down and walked back to the trailer hoping he had enough gas in the tank to jump stadium because he was one pooped pony, so pooped he was even only halfheartedly grabbing at the tall grass as we walked by.