National Junior Championships – Part Three
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   22nd Mar 2011   •   5,835 views   •   14 comments
The day of the cross country was dark and cold. Thick clouds covered the sky, and it was with freezing hands that I groomed Bronze that morning. The cross country was not on the champs site, but at a racecourse nearby – meaning that Bronze had to take a trip in the box to get there.

Since we arrived at champs a few days earlier, our project had been to pump Bronze so full of energy that he wouldn’t even be able to think by the time he was ready to set out on his course, and that day was when we found out whether or not we had been successful.

12 December 2010

National Junior ChampionshipsI walked Bronze out, hosed his legs, then loaded him into the box. He went in happily enough – but on the drive to the track, he decided to begin expressing his displeasure at being back in the box after the hellishly long trip up to champs. So, with classic Bronze stubbornness, he began pawing in the box – making an absolute racket. Thankfully, it was only a short drive, so he didn’t have time to cause too much of a commotion or hurt himself. In fact, he was even settling down a little by the time we arrived.

When I took him out of the box, however, he became fired up all over again. I had to thread the lead rein through the noseband of his halter for extra control, cling to it with both hands, and brace it against my hip to keep him from taking off and dragging me right around the racecourse.

He was certainly excited – holding his head high and prancing around on spring-loaded legs. Still, we managed to calm him down a little and hold him still for long enough to tack him up. I taped on his boots, smothered his legs in grease, then mounted up and started walking around. He felt like a stick of dynamite – full of energy and ready to explode at any moment!

Still, I managed to get him to walk calmly to the warm up arena – but when it came time for the tack-check, he wouldn’t stand for long enough to get checked.

So I warmed him up for a while, trying to get him settled enough to stand, but that was not going to happen.

Eventually, my instructor came over to help hold him still while the tack-checker quickly approved us, then I quickly adjusted my stirrups – with much difficulty, I might add – before sending my crazy horse around the warm up again.

He was quite happy as long as he was working, so we had a few little gallops and popped over the warm-up jumps. We had to wait quite a while, or so it seemed, before it was finally our turn.

It rained a little, too – pouring down, then vanishing again, before returning once more.

When it was finally our turn, it was drizzling lightly. Bronze stood tense in the start box as the starter counted us down. He danced around occasionally, but I managed to hold him until the start. Unfortunately, the rules say that the start box must be exited only from walk or trot, and this proved difficult, since when the starter said "GO!", Bronze was well ready to explode! But I managed to get him take a couple of steps of walk...and then, he was gone.

He plunged forward so suddenly that I was almost left behind – and bolted off around the course. He was like a completely different animal from the lazy, timid and hesitant Bronze he once was. This was a horse who knew his job, and wanted to do it! He charged off around the course, flying over the first jump with no hesitance, then darting toward the second.

National Junior Championships

At the third jump, we reached our first challenge. I slowed him to turn him off the track, and he listened to me – thankfully. Then I faced him toward the jump, expecting to have to ride hard to get him over the first wide jump of the course. But no – Bronze sprung forward and leaped eagerly over it, then shot off like a bullet for the next jump.

He cleared it effortlessly, then jumped neatly through the off-set combination on the hill – staying brilliantly balanced and responsive even at his incredible pace.

Next was the big brush at the top of the hill, and again I prepared myself to have to really ride him over it, but there was no need – he just powered up the hill, sprung effortlessly over the jump, then landed on the racetrack and took off at full speed – showing his thoroughbred bloodlines better than he ever had before.

The next jump was the one I was most worried about: The big corner fence in the dip. I gathered up my reins and tried to contain Bronzey’s fast pace, yet without causing him to back off, since a second of hesitance could put us in danger.

I need not have worried. Bronze was in the zone, and nothing was stopping him. He was perfectly content to take a long stride, and soared effortlessly over the jump – landing balanced and ready to turn to the ski ramp.

The turn was tight, and Bronze was fast, but since he was being so good, we managed it – then dashed toward the ski ramp.

We were moving fast into this jump, and Bronze was so keen to get to the next one that he dropped a stride and threw a mammoth leap.

In a pathetic lapse of concentration that I am still kicking myself for, I went ahead and ‘showjumped’ the fence – getting my weight off his back and leaning forwards, rather than keeping my seat in the saddle and leaning way back on landing like I should have, seeing as the drop was so steep.

When Bronze landed from that massive drop, my balance was jolted. He stumbled slightly, then spun around the tight corner to the next jump – and that was all it took. I had lost both stirrups and slipped sideways, and I just couldn’t get myself back into the saddle.

So I slipped off – reins still in hand, and somehow managed to land on my knees. Bronze stayed with me – mostly because I was still holding him – and only danced a little while I remounted.

Unfortunately, due to some newly instated rules, a fall anywhere on the course counts as elimination, so I was unable to carry on. Bronze was furious with me. He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let him finish the course, and kept jumping forward every time he saw a jump, just in case I let him jump it.

It was a great pity, but Bronze was incredibly good, and I was very proud of him.

Three other riders from my province were eliminated around the same time as me, and we all eventually ended up riding back together.

I got a few comments from spectators and officials, saying what a pity it was that I’d come off. Apparently, Bronze and I had been going at such a pace that we had nearly caught up to the next two riders in front of us.

It seems my big horse managed to turn some heads, since a great many people were very impressed with him.

Thus, it was not all bad. It had been a lot of fun, a great experience, and it had done Bronze a world of good!

So it was with relative cheerfulness that we headed back home – and though my instructor was relentless in teasing me about installing a seatbelt on my saddle, we all had a good couple of laughs about it.

(Note: We only managed to get one photo of the cross country, so I’ve included some photos of Bronze jumping cross country at previous shows or practice days.)

National Junior Championships

National Junior Championships

National Junior Championships
Seven Sins  
great story
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,261 views
Look at the size of those jumps! *swoon* You're taented, girl!
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,260 views
No Walkin Farms9  
Great article. Sorry you got eliminated. That's depressing.
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,298 views
Awww, thats to bad! I would hate for that to happen!
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,255 views
T W I  
Masterfully written as always! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it. xD
Too bad about your fall but sounds like you guys did amazing otherwise. :)
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,281 views
Wanderin Boy Memorial  
Wow, look at those jumps ! You and your horses are amazing !
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,293 views
Great article, Bronze sounds like a great horse, glad your okay! =)
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,274 views
Stinks you fell off Polo but sounds like you had alot of fun! Can't wait for show season this year... Cross country will be awesome!!
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,278 views
MS Horses  
Your horse is beautiful! You are amazing at jumping! Look at the size of those jumps!!!
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,279 views
Dark Star  
What?! That sucks that you were eliminated. Bronze is gorgeous
  Mar 22, 2011  •  4,254 views
T E M P E S T  
It's so sad you fell. :(
  Mar 23, 2011  •  4,310 views
I'm sorry about your bad turn there! But Bronze has come so far! Love the pictures too!
  Mar 23, 2011  •  4,273 views
Untamed Heart  
Thats bad that you fell off!!!
  Mar 23, 2011  •  4,276 views
yeah that was great
  Mar 24, 2011  •  4,357 views
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