National Junior Championships – Part Two
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   14th Mar 2011   •   5,722 views   •   15 comments
11 December 2010

This was our first day competing, and our third day at the championships. Finola, of course, was still not starting to compete, since she came only for the jumping. As such, this was Bronze’s moment, and all attention was focused on him.

National Junior ChampionshipsOn this day, Bronze would perform for the first time as a competitor in a national championship. He was feeling rather proud of himself, too, and he clearly didn’t care who knew it – since the second he left his stable he was strutting around like he owned the place.

I took him for a long walk, hosed the ice-tight off his legs, then took him back to his stable for a thorough grooming. He was already quite the fancy, shiny horse, but I attacked him vigorously with the curry comb all the same, and managed to get him even more sparkling than he already was. My instructor plaited him, which he thoroughly enjoyed, then we gave him one last going-over with a rag and a grooming mitt, and set about saddling him up.

When I mounted, he was feeling big. He was energetic and excited about what was to come, and his movement and presence reflected this. Unfortunately, the excitement that I would ordinarily adore made him a little too stressed to concentrated properly on dressage – which happened to be what we were doing that day: The dressage phase of our eventing.

Still, Bronze was willing to work, so all was not lost. I took my time in the warm-up arena, walking him around to calm him down, stretching him out, working on a loose rein, and generally trying to create a nice, relaxed atmosphere for him.

National Junior Championships

Once his head seemed to be in the game, I did some neck flexes to get him bending, and a few transitions to get him responsive. He seemed to be going very well now, so I took some time to try to correct his canter transitions. They were a lot better from the work I had put into them the previous day, so I rode into the dressage arena feeling fully prepared for my test.

Overall, I think Bronze and I produced a good performance. It was nothing to write home about, but nothing to be ashamed of, either. He was straight and active down the center line, he halted without resistance, and he bent into his corners and on his circles. He stumbled into the halt mid-way through the test, but corrected himself very quickly and still managed a very good halt, whilst another horse might have used its lack of balance as an opportunity to resist. But Bronze was well behaved and honest, and tried his best throughout the test. He got a little excited at times with all the new sights and sounds, and lifted off the bridle slightly – but at a touch from my fingers he would refocus.

His canters weren’t bad. The transitions were perhaps a little hollow, and the canter itself not as balanced as it could have been, but considering it has always been his weak point, I think dear Bronzey did a superb job!

We left the arena to some applause – and it was a pleasant surprise to find some of the other riders from my province supporting me. In fact, the friendliness was contagious, so I hung around for a little while to watch the next rider’s test and offer a little support of my own.

Her horse also went well, and everybody soon began getting excited for the cross country the following day!

I walked Bronze out and took him back to his stable, then untacked him, gave him a light grooming, and smothered ice-tight on his legs to make sure he would be feeling great for the cross country the next morning.

After that, I gave him a nice big feed, and watched him like a hawk while he ate. When he decided he had eaten enough, I hand-fed him for a while – just to make sure he was pumped full of food and, most importantly, energy! I wanted to have a crazy horse under me for that cross-country course!

With Bronze settled, I took Finola out for a light work – still keeping her loose and happy so she’d be ready when it came time for her to jump. I bent and flexed her a little, rode her around on a loose rein, and took her for a fun little ride in the field just next to the show grounds.

With both horses taken care of, we hurried off to walk the course for the cross-country before it got too dark to see. Much to my delight, the cross-country was being held on a racecourse. Well, mostly inside the track – but in a few places jumps were actually set on the track itself!

National Junior Championships

The first couple of jumps were easy and simple. A brush fence, a sharkstooth… Nothing exciting. The first problem came at the third jump, where there was a sharp turn off the track into quite a skinny, wide jump – resembling a pair of dice. Bronze always tends to hesitate at the first wide jump on the course – and this one was already off a tricky turn and uneven ground, so I decided it would definitely be a challenge.

Jumps 4 and 5 were again mediocre, and the next challenge came at 6. It was an off-set combination along a steep slope, so a lot of leg would be needed to keep the horse from drifting downhill and missing the second element. The jumps themselves were easy, but the technicalities could not be overlooked…

Number 7 was a relatively simple jump – but a big fence, and coming from an uphill approach. It was quite the daunting jump, and definitely made to encourage horses to back off, so I decided I would need to give Bronze a tap with the stick to keep him pulling me forward into that jump.

Eight was the jump that worried me most out of the whole course. It was a big, wide corner fence – set on the outside of the racetrack where the ground was uneven. The jump was set in a dip in the ground, meaning that one either had to take a long stand-off and jump from the higher ground, or get right to the base of the jump and to jump off lower ground, which made it quite huge. It was also coming off a difficult bend, and would no doubt be an incredibly tricky fence to ride – especially if my mount was to hesitate, as Bronze often tends to do.

The next jump was a big ski-ramp with a steep drop on the other side, then a tight turn into a triple combination on a hill. After that was a big brush with a ditch in front of it – positioned at the bottom of a hill so the horse would be staring right into the ditch. The other jumps were mostly mediocre – but at about 16 was a water complex, which had to be entered by jumping a big tyre jump onto a downhill approach to the water. This worried me slightly, since Bronze after balks at his first sighting of water on a course.

Still – it was a lovely course, and I was very keen to get into the saddle and jump it the following day!
Clair L  
loved it!!!!!!
  Mar 14, 2011  •  4,559 views
No Walkin Farms9  
Great article. Love the photos.
  Mar 14, 2011  •  4,557 views
T W I  
You have epic horses Polo! The more I hear about them, the more amazed I am. :)
I'm eagerly awaiting your cross country results.
  Mar 14, 2011  •  4,550 views
Awesome! I must say, Bronze's mane looked very pretty. :)
  Mar 15, 2011  •  4,544 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Thanks guys. :)
  Mar 15, 2011  •  4,524 views
You should so be in the Young Rider program. I love your little ponies!!! :D
  Mar 15, 2011  •  4,523 views
Absolutely gorgeous horse!
  Mar 15, 2011  •  4,649 views
T E M P E S T  
Your horse is so pretty!
  Mar 15, 2011  •  4,570 views
Untamed Heart  
good!!! Sounds real... hmmm
  Mar 15, 2011  •  4,546 views
Great article, and fantastic photos! You two look TERRIFIC!
  Mar 16, 2011  •  4,531 views
Wanderin Boy Memorial  
Keep up the great work ! You guys look great. Love the photos
  Mar 16, 2011  •  4,573 views
Great looking horses~
  Mar 17, 2011  •  4,714 views
Seven Sins  
lovely photo's cant wait to read more
  Mar 17, 2011  •  4,530 views
Love reading your stuff! Keep it coming!
  Mar 17, 2011  •  4,542 views
sweet!!!! this was awesome
  Mar 17, 2011  •  4,549 views
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