The one thing I hadn’t done a lot of was cross-country. Derek Di Grazia, Pine Top’s new course designer, created a really smart course, with the first three jumps on turns so we could keep riding forward and have balance, and the fourth jump a straight-on gallop jump, a big, wide ramp-y table. Then you had to start to work.
The first combination was a simple upright, narrow roll top to roll top on a straight three or a curving four. Derek’s placement on terrain and in the trees made it so that if you did the three, your horse didn’t see second jump till the last second; the four was a bit more time consuming but definitely a safer option. Then we had two gallop jumps and then the first water, a downhill log in the fence line and then into the water. It held them and jumped quite well, but you had to be able to ride terrain. Then came a table to a chevron, straight on in four. Next was what I felt was very clever designing on Derek’s part—an airy log on a mound with a drop on the backside, followed by a coffin with a solid vertical on a mound, one-stride slightly downhill to the ditch then straight to a corner with the point slightly pointed away from you, making it more difficult—so a similar question right in a row. If you had trouble at the first log, you knew you had your work cut out for you at the coffin, but it was all very educational, especially for the greener horses like Dyson.
The rest of the course was beautiful and thoughtful, with another mound down to a house where you had to ride forward and trust horse would pick up on it. The last two waters were quite educational for the horses. All the questions were smart, fair, and let you know if needed to do more homework.
So I would like to say I was the winner, but it’s always good to know what you need to work on. I use my events this time of year to see where the holes are and what I need to focus on, whether it’s keeping my mind on one jump at a time on an older horse coming back, or helping a green horse new to the level that needs more education. Isn’t that the name of the game?