Saturday, October 22, 2011

Endurance Day!

Well, that was fun!

Today was the big endurance day at the Kentucky Horse Park - it's the reason I made this trip! For the chance to experience the heart of three day eventing at the location of the biggest event in the US - to remember what eventing used to be along the very same paths so many of our greatest American (and international!) event horses have tread. And today did not disappoint! It was absolutely wonderful.

And it was especially wonderful because my pony was just super! He was a little confused, and I think he had a few "ah ha" moments out there - "oh, I get it - this is why we've been doing all that boring trotting, up and down all those big hills - well, okay, yea, this is okay!" Katchi was just a total star in my eyes today. The giraffe stayed back in the barn and he was all business. He couldn't have been more lovely on roads and tracks, and it was just such a wonderful time spent with my very best friend. Amanda even caught some video of us. So, get ready for the excitement, the suspense, the drama, the insanity.... of Roads & Tracks on video!!

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the steeplechase course when I saw it Thursday - only 3 fences (2 the first minute, then 1 minute 15 sec gallop around a tear-drop turn, then one last fence and the finish line - I think we kinda got cheated on that, but anyhow...). When Katchi came out of the start box, I had to laugh at him - how could he have known what was coming? But he practically leaped out of the start box, just how I imagine a racehorse feels coming out of the gate. He galloped strong up to the first, got a little spooky, and leaped 6 feet in the air. That was when I was dead thankful I only had to survive 2 more steeplechase jumps. My cute little pony just doesn't understand the concept of brushing through brush. He jumps over brush, with room to spare. So, onto the second - even bigger jump, but we land running - only trouble is I'm trying to kick my stirrup off my heel where it planted intself on the landing of this enormous leap. A couple of months ago, I took the plunge to modern technology and replaced my old faithful stirrups with a new hi-tech lightweight plastic version. Not a good idea. The stirrup slipped back so far, it was practically stuck on my heel, and because it has no weight of its own, I couldn't get it to come back down to my toe. We're flying, and I'm shaking my leg around like a spaz. I'm just ready to give up, when I decide to give it one more try. SHIT! Came right off my toe. Now we're galloping down the hill into the final turn to the final jump - no stirrup and that left leg aint' holding me. And I can't get my toe into the stirrup because Mr. Lightweight Stirrup isn't hanging where it should be! And there's no way in hell I'm going to survive over that last jump with one stirrup. So, I tell Katchi, I'm so sorry, you have to stop. Now he's really confused. I get him slowed down just enough that I can get the stirrup back where it should be and my toe in it, and I dig my spurs into Katchi and he is flying now!! Damn I don't want time penalties. I look at my watch at the last 30 second marker and we're only down a few seconds - we fly over the last jump and charge at the finish... 1 second over time, 0.8 penalty points, dropped 2 places to 5th. Ugh, heart breaker. But what a tremendously fabulous pony I have - go, stop, go - and he did it all, just as I asked!

XC was great too - just the confidence boost we needed! As I was afraid, the small jumps rode a bit crap - Katchi just couldn't figure out why they were so small and he was a bit spooky at them, adding strides, and jumping like a llama. But, when the jumps finally got bigger and the questions harder - he rode like a charm! Even right through the ditch combination towards the end that I was worried wouldn't quite go to plan. But, he was great! And I'm also super thrilled that neither of us felt all that tired at the end of the course!

Amanda cooling Katchi out after XC

Here's the breakdown in speeds and distances for today's' endurance day:
Roads & Tracks, Phase A: 3520 M @220 MPM 16 minutes
Steeplechase, Phase B: 1300 M @520 MPM 2:30 minutes
Roads & Tracks, Phase C: 4000 M @ 160 MPM 25 minutes
10 minute vet box hold
XC, Phase D: 3009M @ 450 MPM 6:42 minutes

So, tonight Katchi is resting all poulticed, wrapped, and feet packed. He's always a tough one to keep comfortable, so we have our work cut out for us in the morning before the final jog. Please keep fingers, toes, hooves, and paws crossed for us tomorrow morning. And then it's show jumping around 4:00 tomorrow afternoon - another long day! And with that, I am off to bed!

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