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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Friday, September 18, 2009

American Eventing Championships 9/12/09: Day 2, Cross-Country

XC day dawned bright and early for all of us. I was wicked excited about the course (it was SICK!) and made Alex get up early so I could walk it one last time. It was foggy and WET out there, but I didn't think much of it, as I expected a lot of it to burn off by the time I rode at 9:55am. We headed back to the barn, took off Gogo's Sleaziest, and cleaned her all up so she was sparkling and gorgeous again.

Yep, Mom got the BAMF picture of my arm. We suited up, mounted up and were ready to ROCK THAT COURSE!

Okay so how awesome is that picture. That is me walking to XC, and Jennie Brannigan and Phillip Dutton walking next to me!!
She warmed up great, and I was very happy to see that there was an XC jump in our warmup line of fences. That is SO HELPFUL, because I think it really gets her brain thinking about forward and solid obstacles. Sometimes when we warm up over little dinky looking white poles and then have a massive flower-covered coop as our first fence, she gets a little backed off at first. We set off on the XC right at our alotted time, and she was in instant cruise mode.

First fence rode well, as did the second, which was around a tight corner but framed in on both sides by trees, so it gave us a nice channel and was confidence-building. (You know, they look tiny on the coursemap but I am pretty sure they were all close to maxed out). Third fence was the Seat of Power, which was a big rampy thing that I had had a lot of fun with the previous day:

The Seat of Power curved around to the far edge of the field where the Lamb's Creep was, which was short but very wide, and right before this fence, she slipped. Not dramatically, not violently, but when I asked her to come back before it, she came very up in front like she does, and went to slow herself with her hind end.... and whoop! Both hind legs lost their purchase for a second, and she slid with both of them underneath herself. It was a split second thing, and she regained her footing and jumped the Creep fine, and then made the tight turn to THE FISH! This was the first real test of the course. We had four fences to really get ourselves rolling, and then we had this freaky looking fish right before the water, and had a step out of the water, which she has not schooled in over a year. That coursewalk picture did not have water in it; here are some more accurate pictures of the fish and the water:

Pretty sure Brant Gamma got an awesome picture of us jumping the fish. She bopped over it, splashed through the water (wait til you see how those HOCKS were going!), and slightly awkwardly hopped up the bank, but nothing too dramatic. And I patted her and told her what a good girl she was, and she pricked her ears and galloped on. Only, we started down a little tiny hill just then, and she felt like she was totally unsure of the ground beneath her. You know how when you walk on really slippery ice you take little mincing steps to keep your balance? It felt a little like that. But we got to the bottom of the hill, curved around to the Sawtable, and took it totally awkardly. No matter, on we go to 8A and 8B, the offset two-stride. Which looked a lot like this:

Slice that baby! We came at it at an angle and it rode beautifully. She skipped over it like it was nothing. Novice height is really just not even a challenge to her. She hardly even had to pick up her legs, she can practically canter over most things. We headed through a path in the woods to fence 9, and then had a long gallop through another path in the woods. Here, another interesting thing happened - I asked Gogo to gallop on in this section of the woods, and she just... didn't respond when I asked her. She cruied on at her same speed. Unsusual, I thought. Maybe she just really doesn't want to move out because of the slipping and sliding. I let her take her own speed, which was agonizingly slow, but I felt it better to keep her confident. We finally came out of the woods to reach the Corner, which was HUGE and rode just like any average vertical would. But technically, it WAS a corner!:

And then came THE COFFIN COMPLEX! I don't care what they tell you, it was flagged seperately but it was SO a full coffin. Here is the actual flagged half-coffin part. And wow, she just cruised through it like she was sleeping. I was grinning ear to ear after she loped over the ditch (my previously ditchy, ditchy horse, LOPING over a ditch!) and got three perfect strides to the last element. From there it was onto the Gnome Cabin, but what you can't see about that fence in that picture is this:

The big f-ing TREE right in front of it! I took the left approach to it, as I imagine many other did, as it didn't add sigificant time to take this slightly longer way. Once again, she questioned absolutely nothing. I hardly had to do anything but sit up there and smile. From there, it was the second water complex! The first element was a roll top right before the water, and then you had to splash your way through on a broken line to the roll out, which from the pictures it looked like she half though was another step out! She was a little bit awkward, but nothing too outrageous, and we landed further out than I expected. We lost a little time there as I had to awkwardly navigate back to the 15th fence, all decked out in Buckeye feed bags, our favorite! At this time, I felt like we were really, really going slow, and she did a few more too-careful-with-my-feet movements. But nothing else felt WRONG about it, is what kills me. It felt like she was being overly careful. Aah, had I only known! We were in the homestretch at that point in time, and bopped down the drop easily to make the hard right turn to the skinny log, our final fence. It looked a bit like this from the top of the drop:

It rode beautifully and I meant to trot it, but she cantered right off it easily (no launching yay!!) and we hopped over the log for the sweeping turn left to the finish flags. At this point I looked at my watch and went "oh crap!!!!" and cranked around and came flying pell-mell around the corner at top speed. She did have that one last burst to give me, and we flew across the finish line at the time of 4:53. The optimum time? 4:53! THAT'S CRAZY! She was crawling along as slow as could be, and she still was going the perfect 400mpm speed. Needless to say, we had one of not too many completely double clear round, and I was so excited I jumped off my horse when she was still walking, and had jelly legs and fell flat on my face. People around me were like oh my god are you okay!? And I stood up and was like yeah, yeah, I meant to do that. I checked all her feet in case she had a rock and that was causing the hesitation, but they were all clean, so off we went to celebrate.

Yay mare!!!!!!! Now I know these are not the most flattering pictures of me ever (my mom seems to get a lot of me sitting in the saddle and unnecessarily driving to fences), but I like them anyway.

I took her back with Alex, and we bathed her, grazed her for a good long while, walked her, and put her back in her box to rest before we wrapped her up for the night. She's been getting nasty scurf on her front legs from all the liniment wrapping I was doing the week before, so I wanted to let them breathe and rest before I put more wraps over them. And I am glad I did, because I wouldn't have noticed anything was wrong until the next morning.

To be continued. As for now, I need some bed.


Dressager said...

Awesome! That's crazy that she just kept truckin' for you. Those fences looked like fun and y'all looked amazing!

Get well soon, Miss Gogo!

PrelimaMarey said...

Will you consider shoeing her?
No judge, just curious.

Andrea said...

No. Shoes would not have prevented a slide like this. I was not the only one who slid - a Prelim horse was going between fences, studded and all, and fell and broke its scapula. Studs would have caused a far more serious injury during a slip like Gogo had - her 1100lbs were sliding come hell or high water and had studs jammed into the ground during the slide, she probably would have fallen, or done way, way more damage to herself.

SmartAlex said...

Her face in the close ups at the finish look like "I had to dig a little deep for you but I made it didn't I? ... Might regret it in the morning..."

Good Mare. Not a quitter by any means.

Stacey said...

Looked like a ton of fun! I love the second pic of you guys through the water!

Yankecwgrl said...


Sounds like an amazing ride! KUDOS to you and GOGO for performing soooo well!

Heal quick little-big mare!

Anonymous said...

How's she doing with the rehab?

Karma Anais said...

I just found your blog and I am so excited! Hopefully we'll be following you, but two years behind. Great pictures! I loved your fences pictures.