Because this weekend was long and certainly adventure filled, I’ll be breaking up this recap into sections. Trying to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and all that.
So we start our journey Friday morning, where J picked us up in her awesome rig to make the 4 hr trip down to Tryon. Minus one instance of yelling at rude drivers honking into our horses’ ears, the drive was rather uneventful. We settled the boys in briefly before hopping on to school some dressage. Foster had a lovely dressage school, and was attentive and extremely supple in the bridle, and I was definitely pleased with his attitude, and truly looking forward to dressage in the morning!
Then we headed out to walk the cross country course.
From fence 2, it was immediately clear we weren’t at a schooling show any longer. Fence 2 was a tactical question, where the rider had to choose their approach carefully- a straightish approach that required a ride around another fence, or a more direct angled approach. From fence 3 on, the course was max height and held still further questions. A combination at 5A and B, four strides from a barn to a log but with lots to look at surrounding it. A 3’2″ (ish) brush fence at fence 7, two strides before the water. A half coffin at 12A and B, ditch then two strides to a fence. A hairpin turn to fence 13. A rather scary fence 14 that just beckoned for a run-out left. This course was going to demand an active ride, and had little let up in between questions.
I was pretty much terrified. So while nightmares of getting eliminated at the brush fence simmered in my mind, I did my best to ignore all and focus on dressage in the morning.
Luckily, a great friend and former dressage teammate came and visited me Saturday morning, which did a lot to distract me from visions of lawn darting on course. We were having so much fun chatting that I ended up running just a tad behind schedule for the dressage, but still had a nice warmup for the test. He wasn’t quite as supple as he has been the night before, and I think if I had given him 5 more minutes of good work I would have gotten the quality that I wanted. But he was relaxed, and listening, and I felt like he would put in a pretty good test!
The test itself did end up feeling pretty nice. As I was riding, I knew there were places where I was maybe leaving some points on the table, so I tried to make the test as accurate as possible. I was a bit bummed with the free walk, as it wasn’t nearly as nice as what I have been achieving at home, but otherwise put in a workman-like effort. I tried to remind myself to keep my elbows by my side and practice better equitation, which ended up paying off.
As you can see below, there are parts that were super successful (8 on a canter circle! The work is starting to pay off!) and also- my first 8 on rider (ah, that’s me?!), and Foster’s first 8 on gaits (yay pony!). Also an 8 on the medium walk transition. For the rest, I feel confident that we can bring up the 6’s will soon become 7’s and the free walk will become an 8. The test as is earned us a 30, which is also a new best score for us as a team. Our first 70% dressage score since debuting at Intro when I first bought him!
Sorry for the video quality/don’t watch if you are epileptic!
Whereas at a normal show (i.e, no prize money), a 30 would land me near the top of the leaderboard, my awesome-for-me score landed us in a 3-way tie for 6th place. Sitting at the top were scores of 16, 18, 19, and 20 – a couple of these ridden by former professional riders who are now (I’m told, I don’t know these people personally) too scared to move up to Training. But, whatever! My pony put in a great show and now we were out to tackle the daunting cross country course!