"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, June 13, 2011

Everyone knew before I did!

Let's play catch up before the really fun stuff.

Last weekend I was in Phoenix Thursday until Sunday morning.  I was home just in time to ask Cindy and Sally if Fred could go XC schooling.  I drove home from the airport after a red eye flight, I threw my equipment and Fred on Cindy's trailer and off we went.

Sally didn't let me take the easy route.  We jumped a variety to give us lots of confidence.  Fred doesn't need the confidence, but I do!  I have to move him forward to the fences to produce a good outcome.  Forward is not something that comes naturally to me.  I must ride the front of the fence in spite of what happens after the fence.  Fred likes to dance around after fences and it really distracts me. 

Over the red bench.

The plan was for me to take Tyler so that I could finally compete this year and build some confidence.  On Tuesday, Tyler decided that plan didn't suit him.  He has been mildly lame in the front since Tuesday.  I swear that horse has decided that he doesn't want to work anymore and would rather have his daily paper delivered with his breakfast and then spend the day in his bathrobe and slippers.  Not that I blame him.  Turns out, there was dirt lodged under one of Tyler's hoof pads.  He was sore enough that I couldn't compete him.  As I have written before,  Tyler did more than I expected him to and honestly, I am happy that we ended our eventing days on a high note.  Again, this is me justifying the fact that Tyler doesn't want to do dressage.  I know he misses running around the cross country field.  

I spent the week prepping Fred for Sunday.  Fred has done 4 events in his life and that was in 2007.   I had a bad lesson Thursday night with Cindy and Lauren.  We set up jumps in Pasture 2 to jump on terrain.  I was a complete wuss.  Cindy had to park the gator next to most of the jumps I did because I wouldn't steer Fred.  Fred is willing to jump anything, but not if I pull him off the fence.  That night didn't help my mental concerns about Fred.  A big problem I have is wondering if I can keep up with Fred.  Cindy did her best to talk me through, but I just wasn't with it.

Friday was dressage with Sarah.  She likes Fred and we have a lot of fun.  

Saturday morning I jumped Fred in the ring.  We had a good ride and I turned him out. There wasn't any more I could do before Sunday.  I taught Saturday morning lessons then drove down to Plantation to watch Cindy and Lauren at the recognized event.  Lauren was in the Junior Open Novice division and had a great day with Napoleon.  Time was challenging over the terrain and in the heat.  Cindy rode Graham in his first BN event.  He was a star! He brought home a ribbon, too.  

I walked my course that afternoon.  Plantation maxed out the BN course.  The starter trial would ride the same course as the recognized.  I was a little concerned about some of the jumps set close together.  

Finally, Sunday rolled around and we set out.  Alexa with Jewel and Vanessa with Cody were in the BNR-C division.  I was in the BNR-A division.  We walked the course again in the morning and I felt better about it and the stadium course.

Fred was calm on the trailer and happy when he was able to be out and eat.  He was looky but calm.  He can be so tall out there! Dressage warm up was great.  I was so relieved that Fred was very well behaved.  He goes to work with little fuss.  The dressage test was the best I've ever had.  My geometry to the right was poor, but we had great marks.  

The judge, Kim Meier, wrote, "Very polite in waiting for almost all commands before reacting.  Minimal mistakes.  Very easy to watch.  Prepare earlier to prevent mistakes before they occur." We had three 8's!  Our right lead canter depart was "very polite."  I never knew such comments could be made about a test!  :)   We earned a 30.5.  That put us in 6th.  The rider in first had a 16.5!  

I don't check scores until I'm done because I have enough pressure to get around as it is.  I have to find something to do in between dressage and jumping though.  I was freaking myself out waiting for the right time to tack up and go jump.  I had no idea what I was in for.

Quick thanks to Lauren for our awesome cross country outfit!

Fred behaved until we set foot into the warmup.  He decided he really liked being out and wanted to show everyone.  He was bouncing around like a little kid on a sugar rush.  Cindy did exactly what I needed her to do, told me to ignore him and ride forward to the jumps.  Fred was fine with jumping once he focused.  It was finally my turn to go in the ring.  Fred was great.  I was able to bring him back to the trot for a simple change between fences 2 and 3.  There was control between 5 and 6, too.  The two stride at the end rode great.  Fred was taking me to the fences and I felt like we were together the entire time.  
 Fred is part of the HVS dork squad. 
 This felt better than it looked.  Fred might have been annoyed that I didn't share his confidence.
Over the last!  Tyler jumps to the left, Fred to the right.  Someday I'll find the middle.

Poor Julie!  As we're walking to the start box, I asked her how she was with nervous horses.  She didn't have time to answer as Fred struck out with both front legs.  That was as silly as he got going to the box.  Cindy sprayed me down with the sticky spray and we were off!

The first fence was a bending line to the left from the start box.  The course designer wasn't kidding around!  The second fence was a big solid green house which has been on the novice course.  Fred was sure he wanted to jump it.  I wasn't.  The jump had flags and a number so the only option was to jump it.  Fred jumped it and I stayed with him.  I knew we would be okay after that.  The combo of roll top to drop log to little ditch was perfect.  Fred helps me get over my issue with benches.  I only had to tap him on the shoulder once before the house into the water.  The ride up the hill and back to home was amazing.  We had three trot breaks so I could organize and test the brakes.  The bit I use is working well.

We had a clear round!  Compared to Tyler, it was a different type of work out.  Once I could breathe and think again, I realized how much fun I had.  I now know I trust Fred and that he will do anything I ask.  That's a big step for us a team.  He is talented and capable.  For my own mental health, I know I can keep up with Fred and ride him.  

 Out on the XC course!  Fred is fun to ride around. 
 A good start. 
The feeder, second to last fence.  

After smiling and laughing like a fool the entire way back to the trailer, I finally settled enough to cool Fred out and make him comfortable.  I cleaned up my mess, loaded him on the trailer to relax, and headed up the hill to watch the girls jump.  On the way up, Jaime and Nina stopped me.  They looked at me and asked, "Don't you know?"  Know what? What's wrong?  Fred and I WON!  I had a text from Lauren and Sally before I made it to the scoreboard.  Even typing this now, I don't quite comprehend that we won.  There was lots of celebrating with my friends at the event and I was thrilled.  I knew that Fred and I could be competitive, but I had no expectations for our first time out.  

The day wrapped up soon after that.  Vanessa had a challenging XC run after a spectacular stadium round.  Alexa should be very happy.  She and Jewel had a good day after only one run out at the chevrons.  

I brought Fred home 4 months ago and never thought I would have completed an event, much less win one this soon.  Fred and I have lots of training ahead of us.  I would like to run several more BN events before moving up.  I think it is important that we have mileage and experience together.  

All of my friends told me I was able to take Fred to the event on Sunday.  Many told me I would do very well.  They were right.  I appreciate the faith everyone had in us and the support.  Everyone knew before I did.  


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