Sunday, 16 June 2013

Beaumont Horse Trials

We headed out to the event on Friday after work.  We arrived, I tacked up and went for a quick ride, just went and did a little bit of flat work in the warm up area, Sunny was FABULOUS. Relaxed and lovely, it was so nice!! I had braided the night before so I didn't have much to do after I rode,  took a quick walk around some of the cross country course, and then I studied my dressage test a little bit, then went to bed.  

We were one of the first few in for dressage in the morning, so I was up super early. I don't sleep well away from home, so it's pretty much just a fact that I get little to no sleep when I'm away at events:P Was hopeful about having better dressage this year since we have been working super hard over the winter and made lots of progress, and Sunny had been so good the night before, and I got on and she was like "ZOMG GUYS WE'RE DOING A THING!!!!!!" Just freaking WIRED. Great, so much for having a good dressage test:P 

I just kept the warm up as low key as possible, despite her being pretty tense and fractious. Lots of circles and bending at the walk and trot, just trying to get her to relax and settle a bit, and I didn't canter until right before they called me over, because I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. They had the dressage warm up behind the judges, and then to enter at A you had to ride out into the cross country field, and there were jumps RIGHT THERE by A. So Sunny totally lost her mind when we went down to enter, I circled as many times as I dared after they blew the whistle for me to enter, but finally I knew I was cutting it close time wise so I just entered and started my test. The first part actually went alright, considering. Sunny was super tense but we managed to pull out a bunch of 6's and our medium trot across the diagonal was really nice and I got a 7 for that. The canter was messy, she picked up the wrong lead initially but I corrected it and our counter canter wasn't as relaxed as we should have been but it was ok. Actually had a square halt and decent rein back at C, and then we were back at super tense Sunny again. The last half of the test was mediocre, the trot work was passable and the canter erratic and rushed, Sunny was still tense and fussy, and then we turned down centerline to halt and salute, and Sunny just decided she was DONE. She would NOT halt and stand. She immediately started backing up and swinging her ass around, had her head in the air and was threatening to rear, and I put both legs on hard and was quietly correcting her, trying to direct her back up to X so I could salute. And correcting her. And correcting her. She would NOT stand, even for a second. I knew if I circled her I would probably get whistled for an error, so after nearly two minutes of just trying to get her to halt and stand, seriously it felt like FOREVER, I was pretty much at the end of my rope. I had both my legs on her so hard and she would NOT go forward AT ALL. It was getting to the point where I was afraid she was going to back right out of the arena and then we'd get eliminated. So I grabbed both the reins in one hand and swung the end of my reins and nailed Sunny on the shoulder with them. She immediately snapped back down to earth, and we walked up, halted, and I saluted. I knew right away I shouldn't have done that, but absolutely nothing I was doing was working, and it really was a last resort at that point. 

The judge got out of her truck and I walked over and she said that she knew and understood it was a last ditch attempt when things just weren't working, but that I should be aware that it was something I could possibly get a red card for if I did it again. I apologized and thanked her for letting me know, and headed out of the ring. I immediately headed back into the warm up and did another 15 mins of trot work, once Sunny had settled a bit and gave me some satisfactory work, I called it a day. 

So I was pretty disappointed with our test.  Just super frustrating because dressage has always been our weak point, and I had been working so hard on it over the winter, Sunny really has come so far from last year, and I feel like we both have improved so much, and I was really hoping we'd come out and have our hard work pay off with a decent test.  Then when we get out there where it really counts, and it's all for naught.  Relaxation will always be our biggest hurdle to overcome, we obviously have a lot more work to do there. photo aDSC_9017.jpg  photo aDSC_8977.jpg  photo aDSC_8946.jpg 
Stadium was extremely tight and windy and on grass, which I hadn't expected, and Sunny was barefoot, so I had decided to just take my time and go a little wide where I could to prevent any slips hopefully, and just see how it went.

My round started out alright. Fence 1 and 2 rode fine, we got a bit tight to fence 1 and rubbed the front rail and it came down. After fence 2 you had a 90 degree turn to the right and a short uphill approach to a big oxer, set a couple strides out from stand of trees, so you had to land and immediately steer to the right to miss the trees. Well, Sunny chose that jump to do her what is now becoming customary random 1.35m jump out of nowhere, and nearly jumped me right off of her. THANK GOD her default is to just go straight, no matter what I'm doing up there, and I managed to land back on top of her more or less, and she kept cantering like nothing was wrong.  She whoaed when I asked her to, and I got myself reorganized, we had to circle to re-establish the canter so we got 4 faults there for crossing our path. Carried on to fence 4, and then Sunny jumped super huge again over fence 5, another big oxer. Then we were coming downhill to a one stride of 2 tall verticals. It had walked a bit long to me during the course walk, and the rider before me had come in super slow to it, getting 2 super awkward strides in there. So instead of making an executive decision and balancing down the hill and putting my leg on to support the one stride in there, I did nothing. Sunny came in on her forehand with not much gas in her engine, and chipped in big time to the first fence, hitting the top rail with her knees and shot it out in front of her in the process. We could have probably saved it if not for that rail, but Sunny veered to the left to miss the flying rail and I was pulling her to a stop because she was lined up with the standard, not the rails, but it obviously wasn't a definite enough stop, because Sunny tried to jump from there anyways, absolutely demolishing the jump in the process. It was a total yard sale. It was all me, totally my fault, I'm so stupid sometimes. The judge whistled , and the crew rushed out to rebuild the jump.  Once they got the jump back up I circled and carried on, and actually started RIDING, and the rest of the course was very awesome.  I just wish I had ridden like that right from the start!
Fence 2  photo aDSC_9097.jpg 
Fence 4  photo aDSC_9104.jpg Fence 5  photo aDSC_9107.jpg Fence 9  photo aDSC_9129.jpg 
Cross country looked pretty straightforward. I wasn't worried about anything in particular really, even if we yard sale everything else at the event, cross country is where I know Sunny and I are going to come out and ROCK IT. It's so stupid, the easy things are SO hard for us, and we make the hard shit look easy.  

Overall my goal was to go out and have a nice flowing cross country round, take things down a notch and reinforce everything we've been working on over the winter. Rhythm, relaxation, waiting. We all KNOW Sunny can gallop like hell and make time anywhere, we know she's super bold to the point of stupidity and will jump anything in front of her. But I want to have everything else in between, the galloping, rating, the control. THAT is what I've been working so hard on. And we did not disappoint! 

Here is our course walk for those interested:

We warmed up and then headed up to the start box. Sunny was super wiggly to the first 3 fences, probably because I wasn't letting her gallop right out like normal, but she settled in and relaxed and we were golden. I heard my watch beeping during my round but just ignored it, I was just riding for the experience, I wanted to get things right, for ME. Sunny was fantastic. She was waiting and added a stride where I wanted to add, I rode forward and she went and took the long when I asked, she locked onto everything and jumped it no problem, but was in tune with me and listening, not fighting. It was awesome. THAT is what I've been working so hard for!! We easily went clear, but got a bunch of time penalties since we were going training speed (450 mpm) which was fine with me. With our less than stellar rides on Saturday we were not in any sort of real contention for a ribbon, so it was more just a schooling round for us. I was very happy with our round though. Sunny is such a super star, we had only schooled a little bit of cross country once this spring, but cross country is her thing, it's so easy for her, I wasn't worried at all. 

Fence 2  photo aDSC_9164.jpg Fence 10, the anvil  photo aDSC_9171.jpg Me over fence 11, the big table...  photo 3005CBF4-3CF2-4150-B536-166885F3C40D-9183-00000D8B3A576D42-1.jpg And us over it...  photo aDSC_9172.jpg Fence 14, the jump on the hill, and we did add a stride and jumped it perfectly:)  photo aDSC_9179.jpg Fence 15  photo aDSC_9185.jpg Galloping!  photo aDSC_9190.jpg Last fence!  photo aDSC_9197.jpg And done:)  photo aDSC_9201.jpg And of course the cross country helmet cam.

So we were able to end the weekend on a positive note fortunately. I ended up finishing 5th and got a ribbon.  I definitely didn't feel like I deserved a ribbon though, especially based on my rides Saturday, but that's the beauty of small divisions though, and ending on a number and not a letter is always better than nothing I guess. We have a whole bunch of things to work on now before our next event July 12-14, but we have lots of time so I'm not going to stress too much. It will all come together eventually!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Paramount Jump Into Summer Show!

I've been super busy lately and didn't get a chance to post that I entered out very first jumper show a few weeks ago, on a total whim.  It was quite an adventure and nothing like I'd expected, and we totally won the class!!!!  :D

I still have no idea how we pulled that one off, the show was running so late and it was getting dark so fast!  Sunny was absolutely neurotic for our warm up and then she jumped SO HUGE over the first 2 jumps in the course, she surprised the crap out of me and I don't know how I didn't totally lose my stirrups or just fly right off!!  I heard later from a lady watching that those first 2 overjumps could have easily cleared 1.35m...uh, ok Sunny the overachiever!  We made it around and somehow went clear, and we NEVER go clear!  I was such a mix of frazzled and entertained by the whole situation, and surprised, I didn't even stick around for the ribbons and then my coach walked into the stabling right after and yelled my name and held out a ribbon and I was like "WHAT IS THAT?"  And she was like "You won!"  And I was like "HOW???"  Lol.  Then I grabbed it and looked at it and realized it was red and said 1st, and I still can't even believe it!  Soooo I was pretty over the moon about it, and so thrilled with Sunny, she's such a little trooper and so good about just going with the flow!  She was so bold and was totally taking me to everything, but was still listening to me, god I love my horse!!!

And the highly entertaining helmet cam I have to share.  I have edited out the profanity, you'll have to excuse me, but I was pretty darn surprised with those first 2 HUGE jumps!!