Let me start by saying that if I wasn’t prepared for the Running Start Horse Trials, then I really wasn’t prepared for the Combined Training show yesterday. But I thought hey, it doesn’t get much cheaper and easier than 1 dressage test and 1 jumping round at a barn only 25 minutes away, right? So I went, even though Foster had only been ridden three times in just as many weeks (due to my travel adventures, moving barns, one rainstorm from Hell, and one lost shoe).
Anyways, the show went better than expected. We notoriously struggle with the warmup at this facility, as the jump warmup (read: kids on ponies trying to jump fences both directions) and dressage warmup share the same smallish space. But luckily our warmup was only mildly heinous. I tried to focus on relaxation, and spent 20 of my 25 minute warmup encouraging stretchy walk, trot, and canter. Thankfully this approach did help some, though Foster retained some of the tension (I theorize that the tension is also a bit due to lack of muscle and therefore balance in the working paces), but was about 75% alleviated before the test.
So other than having a few tense moments, the test was passable. He felt a little more lateral than usual, which the judge picked up on, but again I put this down to simple loss of conditioning. We are going to have to work to build the strength back up in that right hind in order to achieve perfect straightness. But the test was obedient, and my geometry pretty decent. Foster earned himself two 8’s (20 meter circle trot and our diagonal), and even got a 7 on his right lead canter depart (not expected!). To top it off, we both got 7’s on the collective marks, which I was fairly pleased with as well! (below is a blurry video of the first part of the test)
Following this, I did a hasty tack change, ran around my course on foot (not a single straight line! yikes!) and hopped over a few fences to warm him up. It was apparent that he was lacking a bit of energy, but I hoped he would wake up in my round.
We went in, and noting that the first fence was a nice brick wall, I tapped him on the shoulder to let him know his job. We then proceeded to go around the course like a cross cantering whirlydirvish! It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was forward! He did hit one pole with his backend that I was a bit disappointed about- very uncharacteristic of him but I imagine he was just getting tired. Watching the video makes me cringe a bit, as it’s apparent that I wasn’t really riding the fences- just pointing him at them like a monkey on his back! This is something I seriously need to work on, because I don’t want to give him any bad habits because of my ineptitude. I think a show where I can get in the jumping ring a few times to get my act together would be perfect- maybe a Hunter show is in my future?
Anyways- here is the video so you can see my bad riding (and Foster’s mostly clever footwork) for yourself. Foster, I promise I will do better by you next time! Until then, I need to work on landing on the correct lead, and maybe even trying to teach changes to my horse who wants to change but hasn’t figured out yet how to change the back as well as the front!
It turns out that silly pole cost us 1st place, but we earned ourselves a pretty red ribbon for our efforts! Yay Foster!
Our next plans include hopefully getting a lesson in (haven’t had one at all this year!) and then I’m debating between a clinic and another horse trial (at Denny Emerson’s farm in Southern Pines). Heading to Pittsburgh again this week, and when I get back we will be working on our fitness! Let’s whip our butts into gear!