Well… this time around showing both boys, I had over an hour between dressage rides, which was AWESOME! Forrest’s score went down about 5 points from last time to a 39.8. He still “leapt” into the canter, which the judge knocked me for, but I’m glad she didn’t see how bad it used to be, and I’m also surprised no one else has mentioned it before. Also, they’re getting more and more through at home, so I’m over it. 🙂 But, he stayed in the canter when he was supposed to be cantering AND his canter-trot transition happened where it was supposed to AND it was very balanced considering it was in a test – he didn’t completely splat onto his forehand like a pancake; it was actually somewhat smooth. I’m so happy with Forrest’s canter, it’s finally getting more and more balanced and it’s happening quickly.
Monte had an obedient test, but thanks to the wind, my decision to sit the trot and ride with too short reins so I didn’t end up with too long, “pulling” reins, we got knocked for tension and ended up with a 38. I’d been hoping for so much more, but I’m trying to stay positive and thankful that we’re officially out of the 40s. On a side note, I really have to start socializing a lot more at shows, because I really start to feel left out when the judge chats with every other rider I see go except for me… and my belief in unbiased judging sways even more…
My SJ and XC times on both horses were about 12 minutes apart, so after checking with Nancy, the show secretery, on how to proceed to which she replied: Do the best you can and we’ll fit you in, I tacked both boys up for stadium in the trailer then went and walked XC in the rain. Aside from the fear that it would keep raining and both horses are barefoot and would I have to scratch, the course itself had a very nice flow to it. There was one rather large drop (for training) but it at least had you climb a small grade first, which seems to help horses to know what’s coming. Monte I worry more about leaving a stride out before drops into the abyss, but he’ll go. Forrest is/was the quirky one about them. My plan: trot – slowly.
I came back and bridled Forrest then went to warm up early. I’d hoped to go early so Monte could go closer to his real time, but learned my lesson: take the first horse at his assigned time and they’ll find a way to fit the second horse. It was ridiculous. I tried to warn the volunteer so she knew I was trying to do the right thing, but I kept getting pushed further and further back. Forrest and I would jump a few fences, nail them, and come back, only to find we had eight more horses to go instead of six like she said last time. Then Big Name Rider comes and cuts in front of us, apologizes and thanks everyone – out of duty, not sincerity – then goes off course and gets eliminated. (There is a God!) Forrest and I went two after that and splashed our way to an ugly double clear. I just started using Jesse’s saddle on him that week since I knew my jumping times were so close and his agility in that Devouceaux increased 1,000-fold. We should have taken some rails down, but he was adamantly against it!
I put Forrest up and bridled Monte and had a great warm-up. His head was in the sky – he looked like a stereotypical Arab and refused to assimilate to his warmblood competition, but we were jumping every fence come hell or high water and he was going to nail his distances regardless of what I had to say about it! The round felt much smoother, albeit faster, than Forrest’s and we did take a rail down coming out of the two stride for no good reason – we had a nice approach, but the footing was sloppy, the weather was shitty and we finished our SJ round – a vast improvement from last time.
XC Saturday morning started with Forrest and since the temperature had dropped thanks to the rain Friday, I made sure to strip him of some excess energy before we hit the start box. He seemed… focused… and this time when we left the start box I don’t even think I needed to give him a tap, but I wasn’t quite willing to chance it. The course was a galloping course, and although he remained obedient, I felt like I was riding a different horse than I warmed up on. Forrest is really starting to enjoy XC and GALLOPING! We cleared every (EVERY!) fence and he didn’t consider refusing anything. I did pull him up to a slow, swingy trot for the drop, which he seemed to enjoy almost, and consequently ended up with 1.2 time faults, but we both jumped all the fences, came in very close to time and conquered the drop. SUCCESS!!
After walking and making sure Forrest was cool, I switched bridles and bridle numbers and pinney numbers and headed out on Monte. I started out on the elevator section of his bit, but felt like it was just more bit than he liked – like he was backing off it too much over the fences. So, since the course wasn’t super technical we ran on the snaffle part instead and well, we flew! Like almost time fault flew, but it felt good. A few fences I had to “fight” a bit to get him to slow down, but I was really able to relax and enjoy my ride for a change. We ended up with the second fastest time in training level (a second slower than first) AND we trotted the drop, because well, hubris. So I am trying to think of what bit would be best to go in, but I did also allow him to run for a change, because I know we definitely don’t deserve time faults, and he did come back to me, I’d just like everything to be as smooth and pretty as possible. But, DOUBLE CLEAR!!!!!!!
It only took the whole season, but I finally feel like I’m starting to get this competition thing down.