This weekend, Monte and I set out to redeem ourselves while Alloy and I hoped to have a nice move up to Training from Novice. And, well, it all worked out in the end.
I finally started posting in my dressage tests with Monte along with going for a lower level frame, and it paid off – we scored a 35.2! We’re out of the 40s!!! Exciting, but bittersweet since it placed us third from last. For my own personal gain, I’d like each level to be scored by the same dressage judge. That way you can really pit yourself against all the other horses in your division. i’m 99% sure we all do it: “If I were in Training Horse A instead of B I’d be in 5th place instead of 13th,” or something to that effect. But when the judge is different for A and B, (unfortunately) a score that differs by five points more or less isn’t even slightly inconceivable.
Unfortunately for Forrest (Alloy), his dressage time was 38 minutes after Monte’s. Which means that by the time Monte went (whose arena was a few minutes behind), we made it back to the trailer, stripped his tack and threw it on Forrest, we had literally maybe 20 minutes of warm-up – and that’s pushing it. I did the best I could think of in the warm-up and did tons of stretchy trot, but we probably should have done nothing but trot-canter transitions and it would have been nice to have time to do some lateral work, but… we didn’t. I also knew coming in this test would be harder for him since he doesn’t have much of a trot or canter lengthening (the horse can jump the moon in beautiful form, but just staying in the canter is a feat in itself) but there are areas he should be able to make up for it with. The kicker is the judge happens to be who I moved to Florida to work for, and while I thought she’d be fair – I’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t a pretty test – I really feel like the 5.5 for rider position with “effectiveness of the aids” underlined was a low blow. Maybe she was just trying to make sure no one would ever think she was biased, but we scored a 44.1, which also happened to be last.
Forrest has had multiple vets/chiropractors/etc. work on him, and the general consensus is that his body is very disconnected. He has a huge dent on his butt near his SI, and one vet claims it fractured his pelvis in his toddler years. So we get bodywork and acupuncture and I keep riding him and slowly his back starts to feel like less of a black hole and more like it might actually start being engaged to his hind and front and my point is, WE’RE WORKING ON IT! And I swear our test would have gone at least slightly better had we actually had a warm-up. I’m not yet Buck Davidson, nor are my horses the best of the best. We’re the underdogs who are capable with A LOT of hard work. 🙂
The three of us made it through SJ, and each horse only took one rail down. It wasn’t pretty, I might have had to puke as early as halfway through on each horse, but we made it. My SJ confidence took a huge blow after my Monte/rain debacle, and I had to go back to riding Monte very aggressively (relative term, he’s an Arabian, remember?!), or I’d hesitate and we’d come straight down on top the oxer we were schooling over. My eye still wasn’t to be trusted, but Monte and I went OVER the jumps. We didn’t crash through any, land on any, or come sliding to a halt in front of any, so … success.
Forrest, usually my stalwart show jumper, knocked down more rails than we left up in our final jump school on Friday. Perplexed puts it lightly, but there was really no reason for him to be taking down all the rails. Of course, “Is he sore?!” “Is he ruined because he’s not intimidated by knocking rails?” “WTF?!” all crossed my mind. We were jumping the fences right out of stride – rails should not have been falling when we actually had a distance, and all I could do was put the rails back up and try again until we finally had a clear round. He didn’t feel any differently than normal, and in the off chance he might have just been being lazy, I couldn’t let him get away with it.
Saturday afternoon it was like our horrible jump school had never happened. Forrest went before Monte, and I was able to get my confidence up on him. i knew going in we might take all the rails down, but Forrest would at least canter over everything. Even with my nausea, he stepped up to the plate and I was thrilled we only had one rail instead of 12.
XC was very doable in my opinion, but there were definitely some questions: full coffin; a jump at the top of a hill(mound), landing on the downside and straight to a narrow chevron; and a log into water with a table coming out. We had schooled that area of water before, but the log was new – so the drop into water was bigger and there was something there that wasn’t before: question, question. Jesse (Forrest’s owner/has competed at Rolex) advised me to not let my guard down the whole ride.
Jesse has spoiled me when it comes to dealing with owners. She doesn’t get worked up about anything, but I know she would like Forrest’s record to be as clean as possible, and nothing sticks out worse than a 20. This is where my need to please gives me added anxiety about a refusal, but I just deal with it and hope if I have to have a refusal that day, that it goes to Monte, because I’ll always love him and he’ll never be for sale, so I’ll be the only one who looks bad.
Luckily, Forrest was awesome. A couple taps out of the start box and he was booking it. The beginning of the course (kind of) headed back to the trailer (and Monte) but we stayed on course and only let out a few whinnies in passing. I opted to circle before the trakehner complex because we were booking it a little too much but the rest of the course was very smooth. That is until I skipped the brush fence.
We had just tactfully maneuvered the downhill coffin and I warned myself to not jump the prelim brush fence, because you know, I didn’t want to get eliminated for something silly like that. And then I pointed Forrest at the hill complex because I was so focused on not letting my guard down. And I skipped the training level brush fence. Forrest answered the hill complex question and jumped the last fence and I gave him a big pat and then we were told we skipped a fence. AGH!!! Luckily, Jesse said a TE is much better than a 20 and I have no doubt Forrest would have jumped the brush, and obviously, I’m trying to stay positive.
Monte jumped everything and I made sure we jumped EVERYTHING. I ran him in the snaffle of a rubber-mouth, french-link elevator, and he felt like if I let him really run, I wasn’t going to have enough control, so we ended up going too slow and hadme time penalties. I’d like to have my cake and eat it too, but I’m thrilled with a clean run. 🙂