Fudge and I entered a JumpCross competition at Intro level (2' to 2'6") which was my last remaining 2010 goal. Thankfully they gave me a nice time so I didn't have to get up at stupid o'clock, just normal early ...
When I walked the course I thought it was all jumpable, but some tight twisty turns and I was not going to attempt the joker fences. Although I did walk the lines, the joker fences were enormous! There were 3 on the course, a double, and the last fence which was skinny, parallel and enormous! It took me 3 goes through the rulebook to work it all out, but basically your score is your time in seconds, refusals (+50) and knockdowns (+20) are seconds which get added on to your time as penalties. The joker fences are -40 each if you clear them, and +40 each if you knock them down. First competition, so I was just doing it to have fun.
Fudge bless him was half asleep in the warm up, he did the bare minimum to walk, trot and canter, and jumped the warm up fences. He cleared them positively so I was happy that he was just conserving energy (wise boy).
They don't count you down in a start box, it was an automatic timer, so they called us over, and basically Fudge cantered off with me when the starter in the hi-viz coat waved us through :-)
Ah I was right, he was just conserving energy - he flew through the start, his ears pricked towards fence 1, a nice cross pole start. Thankfully Fudge then realised he didn't know where he was going, slowed down a bit and asked me where was next :-)
Fence 2 was an arrowhead shape, on a slight uphill, no problem, then up a bank, sharp turn down it again, pop over a cross pole at the bottom. Canter erratically downhill (never been my favourite thing, and we had to slow up for the first bigger fence. More downhill to the lake and streams, basically all the water. Skinny fence 5, tiny but Fudge thought it was too small to jump, so he knocked it down! Turn back on yourself, down a bank, through a stream, up a bank with skinny fence 6 at the top, proper jump this time. Down the bank across another stream. By this time I was grinning like a maniac, it's such great fun :-)
180 degree left turn, x pole into water fence 7, canter through quite deep water. All was going so well, then I noticed the swans calmly floating across our path. Fudge put the brakes on fast, I shouted at the swans, they looked at me as though they owned the place. Fudge shot left, I lost both stirrups and nearly fell off, grabbing some mane to hang on, I was not going to fall off into that smelly water! The swans reluctantly swam away, and Fudge trotted out of the water with me still hanging on to his mane with no stirrups. Once on dry land I pulled him up, got stirrups back, took a deep breath, and set off again. Our time was b*ggered anyway, I might as well enjoy it!
Another turn back into water (no swans) fences 8 and 9 with water between them, no problem. Negotiate narrow path with a sharp right turn to fence 10 which was a bigger upright out of the water, still no problem, Fudge had got back into a good rhythm. Even managed to jump fence 11 to change leg up another steep bank, sharp turn back down through the hedge, canter across the open, tried to make sure I was breathing still. Fences 12 and 13 I thought was a very tricky line when I walked it, but Fudge thought it was obvious and very easy, what a good boy. Downhill again to fence 14, a pole diagonally across a ditch. It was optional at this level, you could cross the stream and up a step instead, but I felt confident. Fudge flew the ditch :-)
Then I forgot all my decisions about not jumping any jokers, after all, we'd had one knockdown and had lost time with the swans. I thought, what the heck, they don't look that big from here ... Fudge did a beautiful turn and locked onto them, so we went for it! I reckon part A was 2'9" and the spread part B was 3' - both of which feel very big to me. Fudge eyed them up, popped part A, realised he was a long way off part B (only one stride between), and took off anyway. I slipped my reins and tried to stay on as we flew through the air - it worked :-) I was grinning like a mad thing, telling him what a good boy he was, then I realised I had no reins to steer. We almost missed some compulsory flags and had to turn a circle whilst I collected my reins.
Across the stream for the last time, up a steep bank for fence 16, another big one but again I needn't have worried, Fudge had it all sussed out. Up the hill for the last time to offset rails, I had heard on the tannoy a lot of people having run out at part B so I planned a careful line and jumped part A on an angle, and Fudge realised straight away that part B was next. Big fence 18 straight ahead of us, and then the last fence 19 to go. I remembered I said I wasn't going to jump jokers, and decided not to risk it. Jumped the usual one, which was big enough anyway, and crossed the line yeehah-ing in my usual style :-)
I walked Fudge off, he was dripping from all the water, and from sweat as he needs clipping again, but it didn't seem fair to clip him before this, as I was going away for a week. There was a chilly wind so I put his rug on (for once he seemed grateful) and left him with hay whilst I had a cup of tea and chatted to the girl who'd ridden after me.
Photos are here: http://www.photobox.co.uk/my/album?album_id=734742966
JumpCross is such good fun, I enjoyed it enormously.
Then scores were announced, and we'd come 7th out of about 25 in the class!! I was over the moon. If only we hadn't had swans, I might have got a rosette! But then if we hadn't lost time with swans, I might not have gone for the joker fences double, which of course had taken 80 off my time.
Anyway a fab first go at it, they pack up for the winter now, but I hope to do it again next year.