Spoiler alert- I’m about to brag on my horse.
But before that, let’s recap on the goal(s) for this show. Primarily, don’t do anything stupid. Ride every fence/movement. And then secondly, allow for the forward pace (i.e, go pony go!) and have soft elbows.
We arrived on Saturday and first thing I hopped on and schooled dressage, which turned out to be OK, but exhibiting some tension in his neck and back. So Sunday before our test I spent the first 15-20 minutes solely on stretching work. This definitely helped with the relaxation, but got him a little flat with his movement. I made the decision to sit the trot and use my seat to get him moving a little more up. So with that, we went in to do our test.
Overall, I felt like the test was pretty good. Sure, we had a bobble in our canter depart, and he ran into the fence in our walk/trot transition (at least he didn’t take it out this time!), but I was really proud of myself for riding every corner, and preparing at every diagonal and centerline. I think the judge was a little rewarding, but here’s what she thought:
And here’s the video of the test.. Other than my chair seat, I know we could improve a bit with the impulsion and forward energy, but otherwise a respectable test in my book. Also- I have to call out the ‘beautiful turnout’ comment by the judge. My friend A was my eyes on the ground, coach, and groom, and every time she helps me get ready for a show we get this comment! Kudos to her!
There were a ton of professionals in my large division of 18, so my 31.3 test landed me tied for 7th headed into showjumping. Watching the showjumping go, we noticed a lot of people getting either poles or time penalties. I have faith in Foster’s handiness to get around the course, so our warm up focused on getting a good pace and keeping my elbows soft and following. I think the pace held up through the course (with again unfortunate counter cantering from 6 to 7), though we got seriously stuck heading into the 2 stride combination, and the last 3 fences are as a result… fugly. But clean and clear and onto XC!
After walking the course twice (I was not going to get lost this time), I felt like this was a nice, inviting course to build confidence in horse and rider, and the technical and terrain questions were really appropriate to the Novice level. Here’s a look at the jumps:
Goofing off while looking at the jumps.. we’re not in Beginner Novice anymore!
The fences I was worried about, and planned to ride aggressively to, were 3 (the skinny), element 9A of the sunken road, and the second bank. But as I rode through the course, I don’t remembering using my bat at all! Foster locked on to every fence and I didn’t feel an ounce of hesitation- he ate it up! All the photos show his ears perked and a confident expression on his face, which makes me swell inside with happiness. We came through the finish flags with 1 second to spare!
Ending on our dressage score of 31.3 earned us a fourth place ribbon. Considering the seriously stiff competition, I never imagined placing, and feel really good about future Novices this year. I am heartened by the thought that we can definitely improve on our score, and… we checked off our major goal for 2014!
Get a 65% or better on dressage and go double clear in show jumping and cross country.
I also need to give credit where credit is due… This weekend would not have been nearly as successful or fun without A by my side! And if you are reading this, A, thank you again!
Next horse trials, maybe this summer!