We went on Sunday, with a ride time of 9am, which meant another early morning for me. But we still managed to get there on time and down to the warm-up ring with no trouble at all. There was a little wrinkle in that I had given myself a blood blister the night before with my wine opener, and I wasn't sure that a band-aid would hold. Luckily, Vetrap provided the solution.
Inelegant, but effective. Strangely, nobody comment on my odd-looking glove, but what are you gonna do. I was in a group of 4 with instructor Sarah Malecha, who normally teaches in Lakeville. We started out just doing flatwork and moved on to schooling over fences. I was worried that Royal would be going all turbo over the fences, but I'm pleased to say he very politely hopped over everything like it was no big deal. We eventually were able to move onto some x-c fences that we in the warm-up, and he took to them very well.
The group moved up to the Hilliest Hill Ever To Hill, which contained a lot of random jumps. Maybe some will be used in the HT but it provided a lot options for mini courses. We did a simple course, which one rather large wrinkle. There was a log on a hill that didn't look too steep from the top, but was extremely steep when you went down it.
The group then moved onto the Beginner Novice ditch, and Royal and I were last in line. The other three horses had some silly moments over the ditch, but I half-halted him and told him that we would have none of that nonsense. He stepped over quite sensibly. We then explored the jumps at the top of the Other Hill. We'd been warned to stay off of the low areas as they were still very wet from all the rain. But we were able to put together a course of ditch to log to log-in-woods to coop-out-of-woods. Now the jet engines were really on, and I had to give him a couple strong half-halt with a side of "Excuse me, hello?" and by the time we got to the coop, he has regained his sensibilities. Then it was bank time. This was a different bank than the usual one, with the possibility to do a staircase. The first time we tried it, he launched off the down bank, but stepped up the up bank with no problems. The second down bank went a lot better, with a very graceful step down and pop back up.
Then it was WATER TIME! Royal was happy to trot through the water and splash around. He even cantered through the water, something he's never done before. We put together one last course of (probably) Novice level bench to (probably) Training stone wall to big steep mound into water, out and across the field, around and down the bank. Royal splashed gleefully through the water and a big drop landed in my eye, causing my contact to slide around. So I was pretty much riding one-eyed up to the bank, and it was a bit of "Royal, take the wheel." He did great and never hesitated. So, that was fabulous note to end on. I cooled him out and washed him off, and we loaded up to go back home. We were about 10 miles from home when I realized one of the trailer tires was basically disintegrating, and needed to be changed. Luckily, we were close to a gas station with a big dirt turnaround, so I was able to stop and unload Royal while we wanted for someone to change the tire.
Yeah, it was bad. Luckily Royal was phenomenal and didn't fuss at all during the whole thing. He loaded up just fine to finish the journey home. The trailer's getting new tires this weekend so the same thing hopefully won't happen when we go to the HT in August. Royal was a bit stiff, but nothing a little bodywork could fix. But overall, I was very pleased. Only going turbo twice and splashing through the water? Very nice. Here's to hoping the HT goes just as well.