This show became a bit of a cluster**** when a massive storm came through Saturday and pushed ride times back hours. Instead of having 4 rides, on Saturday, I only had 2, and Forrest’s novice xc was cancelled altogether. I’m absolutely thrilled with Forrest’s dressage right now. He actually has a canter that isn’t completely on the forehand with legs flailing everywhere, and his engine is beginning to kick in. We finished with a 32.# and while we have a long way to go, we’ve come oh so far. I’m getting comfortable with the novice test, and that helps, too. He is just going to be so amazing I can’t take it.
Of course, our stadium was moved to Sunday morning, and Jesse’s dad didn’t close a gate when he went turkey hunting, so rather than leaving on time, I chased two horses around instead. We pulled into RH, I threw tack on Forrest, and trotted him to the warmup. They were running ahead and were waiting on me, the last novice horse to go. They did allow a few minutes to warm up, and luckily, Ruthie saw me and sent Joe over to help. After our last stadium lesson, I was thinking this is the last thing I need, but he was actually calming – and I have a feeling his “being somebody” got us a few more minutes of warmup.
We trotted in the entrance, saluted the judge, picked up the right lead and headed for fence one. The twisty course, left us trotting to change leads more than I would have liked, but Forrest definitely seems to know his job here and didn’t even peek at anything. Sometimes he acts like a baby and sometimes he’s such a solid citizen. Lead changes are definitely something we need to work on, though, because he definitely doesn’t have the balance to counter-canter around a course like Monte could.
Monte had at least received no remarks about a lateral tendency in his canter, so our showing skills are improving. I think I’ve figured out that I need to throw caution to the wind and ride on the edge more in my tests. Instead of going forward, I put all my focus into keeping Monte calm, relaxed and quiet during our tests, which basically turns him into a handsome, athletic-looking horse with nothing to show but tightness over the back and pony gaits. We need to go for it, because he has more dressage than he needs for eventing… at home!
We had xc first on Sunday, so as soon as I finished with Forrest, I switched the tack to Monte and headed to warm up. The air was cool and crisp after all Saturday’s rain, and even though Monte had a perfect warm-up in my mind – he peeked at the first log, then went over everything else and had a great rhythm – he couldn’t keep his head on straight when we actually went. A refusal at the first jump, a refusal at the roll top after the ditch, a refusal (or two?) at the swedish oxer and we were eliminated.
It left me feeling very defeated after our first attempt at training level. I know he can jump all the fences with ease, but we just weren’t able to establish a good rhythm on course. I’m left again wishing I had grown up doing this so I wouldn’t be pulling everything together by myself at a show. I would have a galloping rhythm engrained in me. The beast I had on xc at our novice competition is not what I had this weekend at training, and I will blame some of it on the temperature and and some of it on Monte being Monte – World’s Greatest Horse one day, a flake the next. He just wasn’t coming back to me in front of the fences and was fighting me about it instead, which led to no rhythm, funky distances and a lack of confidence – on both our parts. Next time, he’s going to have to earn the right to gallop in between fences.