On the Sunday, I had entered into the 25 mile set speed at silver level. To be eligible for Silver, both the horse and the rider must have at least 250 miles in competition – we passed this 2 weeks ago at Coates Creek! This meant that our minimum time is lower (or maximum speed is faster). We could go up to 8mph. Like usual, my plan was to aim for exactly the optimal time, and I had all the numbers worked out to complete in exactly 8mph. This really isnt a stretch for Bentley as he has such a long stride and fast trot.
We started out on our own, and I allowed him a small canter at the start to reward his good behavior (he wasn’t trying to get a canter out of me, so I rewarded that with a canter, as backwards as it sounds, it works for him!)
Then we trotted on nice and consistently all the way through past the water trough (halfway into the loop) before meeting up with Emma and Abi (we had passed several others previously who were doing bronze level) We opted to stay with them through the rest of the loop and enjoyed each others company including going down through the “chute”
At the vetting, Bentley pulsed down immediately to 64, however with set speed he has to be at 56. Then he just hung there at 64 for about 8 minutes. Finally we were into our hold and did our vet check.
His 15 second count for CRI went from 14 to 12 – hes so funny that way, can hold at 64 for almost 10 minutes, then just drop!
Emma and Abi pulsed down one minute ahead of us, but chose to stick around and wait. We knew we would have to separate at some point as she was riding Bronze level. We decided that we would part after the water trough. We enjoyed the first 5 or so miles together, then Bentley calmly left Abi behind. He really doesnt care about leaving horses behind, in fact I think he enjoys it! We did a little more cantering on loop 2, he loved it, and even galloped up a big long hill. I thought he would be tired at the top, but nope, not at all!
Our time was such that I estimated I could walk the last half mile in. Just then, we were passed by some of the endurance horses and he got all wound up and danced and protested about being passed (and I could hear Sable calling to him from across the forest). It ended up being faster than a walk, and we were 30 seconds too early! I got off, loosened the girth and made our slow steps to get the perfect time again!
Everything went well and our final pulse was 43 (so was both Linda and Sue’s!) so I thought that meant a grade 1 as the fastest speed in bronze with anything 44 or under was a grade 1. I was a bit disappointed in the awards to hear it was actually a grade 2. Linda showed me the chart, and it seems no matter what your speed, you can only earn a grade 1 in Silver if you get 40 or below. I know that will never happen with Bentley as hes a big boy and doesn’t get heart rates in the 30s ever, so it was pretty discouraging despite a great ride. Oh well, at least the year end points reflect the place and not the grade!