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This past weekend Monty the OTTB, Miles the dog, and I all headed down to the Colorado Horse Park for the 3 day event. We started out with a literal bang, with a blown out tire on I-25 just before the Longmont exit. This time it was the right side of the trailer, and the wiring on that side needed repairs. I called Murdock Trailers and explained my situation: on the side of the freeway with a horse in the trailer on the way to a competition. They were wonderful, and said to come right in and they would get me taken care of. I put the spare tire on the trailer, then headed back up the freeway to the Johnstown exit and pulled into Murdock's.
When I got to Murdock's they already had a trailer up on blocks in their shop area, but Carlos dropped everything to repair my wiring as soon as I arrived. I was concerned about going the rest of the way to Denver without a spare tire, since my spare was on the trailer. I called around and it looked like I was going to have to haul my whole rig including the horse into Loveland to a tire place that could sell me a new tire and had the equipment to put the new tire on the old rim. While I was making these arrangements on the phone, Carlos came out of the shop wheeling a tire for me! It was already on a rim, and while not a perfect fit for my rig he said it would do in a pinch. When I asked for the paper so I could pay for the wiring repair and the spare he told me no charge! I said I would bring the tire back after the competition, and he told me not to worry about it, just to go and enjoy the weekend. This place is just amazing, with good people working there and I can especially vouch for Carlos in the shop.
Once I was on the road again we made pretty good time getting to the show grounds. They were on top of things, with a veterinarian checking paperwork and horses as they arrived to make sure the show stayed free of vesicular stomatitis, a contagious disease that has been going around Colorado again this summer. I love it when shows are thorough about this kind of thing, it gives me great peace of mind to know that all the horses were checked and found to be healthy so I don't need to worry about Monty being exposed unnecessarily.
Thursday evening we settled in and went for a walk around the grounds. Monty looked at everything and generally took it all in. Mentally he is very mature for six, he is interested in everything and very calm.
Friday was hot. My ride time for dressage was 11:22am, and the sun was blazing. After some slight shenanigans in the warm-up arena Monty settled to business and rode his nicest dressage test yet. He was rhythmic, round, and kept light contact with my hands for most of the test. There were of course a few things I'd like to improve, but mostly it was a very nice test for him. At the end of dressage day we were in 11th place out of 14.
Saturday dawned with a gorgeous sunrise, which I took as a good omen that I was to have a great cross country round.
Saturday turned out to be the hottest day of the summer. I had cross country in the afternoon, at 2:43pm. For cross country jumping I wear my riding clothes, plus a thick black safety vest, plus an inflatable air vest, plus a plastic pinney with my number on the front and back. I was well insulated under all those layers of black polyester. After a brief warmup in the cross country field Monty felt attentive and ready to go. I don't like to school hard in the warmup before a cross country jumping round because it was so hot, and too much drilling right before the round tends to make the horses (and me) tense. I'd rather it was a forward, steady ride than a tense rushing one. Just enough warm up to get the horse warmed up and relaxed.
A balanced, forward, and steady ride is exactly what Monty gave me. He went double clear, which means he had no time faults (not too slow, not too fast), and no refusals at any of the fences. He was much more conservative about his jumping efforts than the last time we did cross country here in May, and he was much lighter on his forehand. He balanced himself well going down some steeper inclines, and cantered most of the course. I love it when the horse learns to respond to my breath and weight shifts and I don't need my hands or legs much. When we crossed the finish line there were volunteers there handing out bottles of water, and Monty and I walked back to the area where I could wet him down with ice water to get his body temperature back to normal. The large tanks of water from which to draw had bags of ice in them, and I have to confess I was sorely tempted to climb in! At the end of cross country day we had moved up into 7th place.
The video can be seen here:
The details suffered (my turns weren't awesome and we didn't always have our leads), but Monty did his best to make up for my shortcomings. Another perk to having a horse who has been taught how to think through a jump course!