The week leading up to the show on April 30th was one of our best in a long time, consistency-wise. I can’t recall a ride that week that went badly…a first in a long time. I had P’s feed switched to see if that made a difference and it may just have. He was less spooky, more focused and had a happier demeanor. Friday I went out and set up “spooky” jumps- fillers, panels, oxers, expecting somewhat of a fight, and he was perfect.
The one thing that was still an issue was the left lead, though he’d happily land on it after jumps. I even had him land on the right lead and ask for the change and he was fine with that. He’s had some trouble with that right hind this year- two abscesses early in the year and then that mystery 24 hour puffiness/lameness at the beginning of April. My theory is that he’s reluctant to strike off with that leg with me on his back- he’ll pick up the lead on the lunge and then he’ll pick it up with me riding if I get off his back in half seat. So there’s hope. Still, I was concerned for the left lead canter in the dressage test, and still a little nervous for SJ since P is a pansy.
One would think that since I was bringing both my husband (with kids in tow) PLUS a teenager from the barn to groom, PLUS my GoPro, that I would have tons of pictures and videos, but I think this is the show where I actually have the least. The kids drained my iPad on the two hour drive there, there was zero prep for SJ, and I apparently cannot work a GoPro from horseback. Major fail.
The event was just a schooling one, at a regular boarding barn. While that show was impeccably managed, unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be attending there again. While it would be awesome to BOARD there- they have a full size dressage arena, a grass jumping field and their own XC field- showing was a different story. There were horses turned out all around the property- many of them running around like lunatics, especially the one whose pasture was next to the XC start box. Each time a horse started, he would run alongside them. If you’re going to have a show- LEAVE YOUR HORSES INSIDE.
The other issue was the footing. The ground was torn up all around the XC field, particularly before/after each jump, and there were ruts everywhere. Not to mention the pictures made it look much more wide open than it was- it was really an average size field with a ton of jumps crammed everywhere. That meant lots of tight turns and nowhere to really let your horse go forward. That plus the footing made me sad and want to scratch.
We went and warmed up for dressage (surrounded by 3 sides of horses running around because after being in the 80s all week, the temperatures dropped to 65 and windy), and I was still having left lead issues. We got it and then I let him gallop a few laps because he was so antsy. Not so much spooking or even really unfocused, there was A LOT to look at and he just needed to blow off some steam.
We went in for dressage and P turned his usual pro self just like anytime we head down centerline. He did everything I asked, including getting the left lead (I almost cheered out loud), then gave me the squarest halt we’ve ever had in a test.
As soon as we were done and I had saluted and turned him to head out, it was like the rest of the world materialized back in front of him and he spooked at the horses along KEH. Whatevs. Horse is still a rockstar.
I’m not a fan of Intro C, and the one time we’ve done it we scored a 33. This one earned us a 29 and the only time we’ve cracked the 20’s so far. So that had us in 1st place in a field of 15. Back to the trailer for a tack change because XC was next. P got super nervous as we got closer to the field because that one horse was just charging around his pasture and horses were going the opposite way (coming back from XC) and we were the only ones GOING there. He’s a follower if nothing else.
The start guy gave me a few minutes to warm up so we started with the little pile of logs, then moved up to the BN log jump to school. Finally there was really nothing left to do but start. So we left the start box, ran along with the horse in the pasture, which made P bolt over the first jump, then we made our super sharp turn and kept going. P tried his little heart out, but was super backed off of everything. The jumps for each level were really squeezed in together so there was so much to look at, plus we had to turn every 50 feet or so…not much time to get into a rhythm.
Then I got lost because I just couldn’t find jump 7. The wind had blown the number down so I circled twice while looking at the clusters of jumps, trying to remember which of the 30 piles of logs in front of me were ours. That put us over time by 9 seconds and dropped us to fourth.
Next was SJ, which was in a grass field next to the road and across the street from guys building a house. Of the 6 or so riders that were in front of me, only 1 went clear because of the noise- jackhammers, saws, cars driving by, etc. The course was literally a hunter course which was a little annoying, and literally no fun, but P put on his pro hat when we went in and we did our thing. We jumped double clear, though I got jumped clean out of the tack over jump 5 because, OMG CHEVRONS WILL EAT US.
That put us into 2nd!
We got back to the trailer and it was obvious P was tired. Apparently being off the rocket fuel-like feed he was makes him normal, which is appreciated but I do need to work on getting his fitness level back up. My BO’s mom co-owns the barn and is purchasing the house next door, which comes with a large field. BO wants to make that a derby course (I will sneak XC jumps and be out there at midnight digging a water complex), so that will give us a break from the arenas. My trail riding group is no more, due to horses being sold, weekend jobs, etc, but it’s clear we need out of the arena. I wish P was trustworthy enough to haul off and go trail riding alone, but I’m not 100% comfortable with that just yet. I may try it one day, though, as it’s been awhile since I’ve attempted hacking him alone.
This weekend my mom and sister are coming for a visit, then the following weekend is the Tim Bourke clinic!