Wednesday, November 11, 2009

River Glen Horse Trials

Well River Glen didn't go exactly as planned, but it was still a really great experience for me and May and I would definitely consider it a success for our second Preliminary.

We arrived at about 4 p.m. on Friday and unloaded May and Faith (Cali's horse who was doing her first recognized show at Beginner Novice) and got everything set up. Then we got on the ponies and did a bit of riding in the warm up ring. May was great and felt loose and supple even with all the drama going on in the warm up (horses rearing, backing up, etc). Faith also looked great and we were both please with our rides.

My first ride was at 8:46 the next morning and May warmed up like she did the day before and she felt great. Then the ring steward called us into the arena early when there was supposed to be the first Prelim rider in front of me but apparently she had scratched - awesome, I had to be first to go. We went in and did a good test, but it wasn't great. May was a bit spooky and distracted around the warm up ring and I got her attention back but she was still a bit unresponsive. We ended up with a 37 in dressage and in fourth place - which was better than I thought we would get. I had thought that our 10 meter canter circles were perfect, but later I found on the dressage test that the judge gave us 5's on both of them. I watched the videotape back and there is NO way I should have gotten 5's - they were balanced and she was round and bouncy - not hollow like the judge said! Oh well, I guess it's all subjective..

So then we were on to stadium. I was once again the first rider to go which made me a bit nervous. May was a bit dead to my leg in warm up so I assumed I would have to ride the first jump very forward, which I did. Well then she decided to take off with me to the second jump! Definitely didn't see that coming, so we had a rail at the second fence. The rest of the course rode nicely albeit she was still running with me and not really backing off the fences. We had another rail down at the last oxer of the triple and the very last fence. She just barely tipped both of them and they went down, which is still very strange for her. We're going up to Holly's this weekend and I absolutely can't wait - I really need to refocus on my spot and see why she's been taking down so many rails lately, even in my lessons with Chimene. It's very abnormal for her to have rails down at all - in fact, over the entire summer with Holly, she had only one rail down. I'm hoping to get this fixed before Pine Top.

So I was done for the day after my stadium round and I got to coach Cali in her dressage and show jumping warm up. Faith was pretty full of herself and decided to start rearing with Cali but Cali was cool as a cucumber and just sent her forward and Faith finally figured out that she was going to have to work. They're dressage test was totally awesome - MUCH better than at FENCE and she was tied for fourth (out of nineteen!) after dressage. After a few hours, they went to do stadium and went clean and I was super proud of Cali for getting Faith forward and over all the jumps. They moved up to third after stadium.

Sunday was cross country day, which I was very excited about but also extremely nervous because I'd never done a course as technical as River Glen's. My nerves seemed to go away as I got in the start box and it was just total concentration on the task at hand. May came out of the start box great and the whole course felt awesome because she was so backed off of the fences. I was SO glad she finally wasn't pulling me around like she had at Training level. I asked her to really gallop forward and she'd go "what? gallop? are you sure? well...ok...". But she was really incredible and even when she questioned if I was really SURE if I wanted to jump that jump (yes, I was) she trusted me and jumped great. We had one miscommunication/pilot error that resulted in a stupid run out, but it was totally my fault. There was a set of downhill triple logs to the a sharp right hand turn and a large steeplechase brush. She got super close to the logs (which is what I wanted) and her stride was short enough that I thought I could turn closer than I should have to the brush and she just didn't see the fence in time and hopped out to the side. She went over it afterwards without a problem. I was super proud of her boldness at the water, which was a log two strides to a log into the water, then a left hand turn to two skinny chevrons places two strides apart. She boldly went into the water and then collected herself for the two skinnies. We also came in about 20 seconds under optimum, which I was extremely excited about since we had so many time penalties at FENCE and I was afraid that this would be a definite problem.

All in all, she was awesome and I think she's going to be a great Preliminary horse. She's backed off but not to the point that she doesn't want to do it and honestly it made riding her SO much easier than at the lower levels. It really was one of the easiest courses I've ever ridden. Funny enough, we still got a ribbon! Eighth place out of thirteen, so not too bad for having three rails and a run out. A lot of people had other problems as well.

Cali and Faith went later in the afternoon and they were great - Faith was nice and forward and taking the fences right out of stride. They had a dumb run out at fence nine (Faith was spooking at something and Cali just didn't have enough time to correct it) but they successfully completed their first recognized horse trial! She's considering going to Pine Top because she wants to end the season with a clear cross country round.

It's been raining for the past two days so May's gotten those days off and on Thursday we travel up to Holly's for much needed lessons!

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