Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Cochrane Horse Trials

So the next stop on our short Alberta eventing season was the Cochrane horse trials a few weeks ago.  Due to my crazy work schedule (4 jobs, plus haying season, woo!) I'm a little behind on the blogging!

Some last minute awesomeness occurred at the event, late Friday night we found out that clinician Sandy Alexander was in Alberta and would drive in the next morning to coach me and a friend for dressage!!  Which was very exciting!  I've only had the pleasure of riding in a Sandy clinic once, this past winter, due to said crazy work schedule, but he is absolutely FABULOUS!!

 My friend getting some words of wisdom from the one and only Sandy Alexander!

Sandy showed up the next morning and worked my and Sunny's butt off for a solid hour before my dressage test.  And our test was better, not great, but a lot better than we usually do!  Unfortunately scores didn't reflect how much better I felt we'd done compared to last time, but I was happy with our test, so that's all I cared about.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that after dressage I was tied for 7th place:)

Stadium was set up in a grass ring with hills and variable terrain.  I usually love courses like this, but it just wasn't our day I guess!!  Right off the bat we didn't get into a good rhythm, and everything was either short chips or massive long spots, struggling to make distances.  I felt like I was all over the place, and was not happy with how I rode at all.  Sunny totally saved my ass though, we came out with only 4 faults, which I found amazing since the round had ridden HORRIBLY, and we'd probably rubbed 3/4 of the jumps!  No video of my round thanks to a video camera malfunction.  You know when they say it never looks as bad as it felt?  This probably would have looked just as bad as it felt!  Lol.  Over the course of the day people either had really good rounds, or really horrible rounds, no in between really!  Chalked it up to a learning experience!  We moved into 8th place going into cross country.

The scenery is SO LOVELY in Cochrane!!  Mountains!!  <3

I felt pretty good about the cross country course when I walked it.  A little more challenging than our previous event, we had a max height trakehner, flagged banks in and out of the water, and a down bank set on the edge of a hill that made for pretty sweet photos!  Everything else was pretty straightforward.  Aside from some pretty boggy spots because of all the rain we've gotten lately!

This is the bank down set on the downhill, and then we came back up to the double banks on the left hand side.
Another photo from above the double banks up, looking across to to single bank down.


With the ditch full of water!

The last fence, taken from the back side because the light was better:)

We got a bunch more rain overnight, which made the already wet course pretty soggy!  Sunny took the whole course in stride though!! Didn't look or hesitate at ANYTHING!! She didn't blink at the down bank on the big hill, we haven't even schooled any banks into water since last summer and she hopped right in, and she leaped right over the trakehner like it was any old fence. I was SOOOOOO happy with her!! And we were the only ones to make time! That totally blew my mind, because the course was super wet, but not slippery. I just kind of let Sunny set the pace, right off the start she was motoring, but the first third of the course was dry. She slowed down considerably in the boggy parts, but nowhere in there was I holding her back or having to gallop her on, and not once did she ever slip or take a wrong step. So it worked out perfectly!! What a fabulous horse Sunny is!! :D
I LOVE this photo of us going off the down bank!!

A bit mud splattered when I finished, but happy!!
A short video of part of our cross country, you can see around 0:35 we hit a pretty boggy spot!

With all the time penalties everyone else had amassed during cross country, I was very excited when I saw our double clear round had us finishing in 4th!! I totally did a little happy dance in front of the results board:D  So proud of my girl!

And of course the helmet cam!  Which I forgot to turn off after my round, so you can see the vet check, and then me talking to some friends.

So all in all a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Beaumont Horse Trials

Mother Nature decided to give us one last taste of winter on the weekend of the first horse trials of the season!  Rain, combined with sub-zero temperatures at night didn't make for a comfortable weekend, and of course we were tenting it like usual!  I am just thankful we didn't get the snow a lot of other places got!

I got morning ride times, which was a nice change from running training level last at the derbies!  I was done riding by noon and didn't quite know what to do with all my free time;)

Dressage has always been my and Sunny's weak phase.  Sunny would rather be galloping and we have had such a long journey over the past few years we've been together.  I wish it could say that it all has come together this year, but the reality is that we are still very much a work in progress.  We went from bolting and bucking sprees, to random spastic episodes, and not being able to put together a presentable, not even good, but just *presentable* dressage test. After many long, frustrating months, a vet eval, teeth work, and some chiropractic work, Sunny now feels like a totally different horse!  We have lovely loose, supple, beautiful work on the flat at home now.  I'm just waiting for that to come out at a show!

Our warm up was really good, Sunny was relaxed and calm, which is our biggest hurdle!  We did a short warm up and then headed over near the dressage ring when we were a few riders away.  Once we were there she started to get more and more keyed up.  Our dressage test was ok, I was not really happy with how I rode, but overall Sunny was noticeably better than last year.  No more bolting into the canter!  Even though she was rushing and fidgety and totally inconsistent in the bridle (mostly my fault), and we pulled a pretty abysmal score, she showed improvement in a lot of areas.  Still, I was disappointed because at home we have been schooling SO much better, but like I said, a work in progress!


I had a short break before stadium, which looked pretty straightforward when I walked it.  Despite the super deep sand footing, that a lot of horses struggled with, we had a decent round.  We pulled one rail, we had kind of an awkward jump at 6, and then I should have brought her back a bit more before the one stride combination.  She went in a tad long to the first, and pulled the top rail on the second jump.  Got it together for the last 2 jumps, so I was happy with our round.

Walked my cross country course later that evening when it finally warmed up, and I was excited!  The cross country course at Beaumont is basically set up in a flat field, so what they lack in terrain, they make up for with awesome creative jumps!  The only thing I was a little worried about was fence 6, a decent sized trakehner, and only because we hadn't jumped a proper one in a a couple years!  Figured I would just sit up and ride to it, Sunny might have a look but I was pretty positive she'd jump anyways!  Was VERY excited for fence 13, the jump on the hill!!

We had the option of doing this corner...

Or this jump twice, once from the far side, and then a u-turn back over this side...

My cross country round was good overall.  Sunny was bold and forward and hardly looked at anything!  However, she was totally pulling on me and ignoring my half halts through most of the course, she was pretty on the forehand for a lot of it, and jumping flat.  Because of that we went faster than I'd wanted to, but still finished in the window so we were double clear.  I'm thinking a bit change may be in order for cross country!!

And the helmet cam...
We were back of the pack after dressage, but ended finishing 10th after cross country.  Not great, but not totally horrible either. 

So, LOTS to work on before our next event at Cochrane in 2 weeks!