Since Waredaca ended up being a debacle of a RF for me, I spent a few days moping (and, let’s be honest, consoling myself with a few drinks), and wondering whether or not I wanted to keep trying to event, I decided that we weren’t ending our season on that note, and getting back on the horse to give it one more go. Just under the wire, I got our entry in to the starter HT at MDHT, two weeks after the Waredaca event, the next weekend I’d be off work.
I didn’t do as much prep for that as I had been doing over the spring and summer, with just one jumping lesson with Kelley the Friday before. We discussed our issues a little, and the fact that while Cally is a great jumping, she’s not the boldest horse in the world, so when she gets her confidence rattled–as she did by two spooky fences in a row at Waredaca–it’s hard to get her back and focused, thus the abrupt runout and rider fall on my part. So I think I’m going to have Kelley take her out the first time or two in the spring, to get a few goes under someone with much more experience, who can hopefully instill enough confidence in Cally that she’ll be willing to forgive a few of my Ammy Moment mistakes the way she will on a showjumping course.
So off we toodled to Loch Moy, and I really wasn’t going in with any expectation beyond “Get Around.” We were sporting our fancy new Southwind Farm saddle pad, and a few dressage girth, both bought at the Southwind Tack Swap, and those must have upped our game, because for what I felt was a pretty average test, we ended up scoring about what our average has been for our season–34.5! I knew our score before we headed out to jump, but I didn’t know where that put us in the order, since all the scores weren’t up yet.
It was WINDY, so windy that the flags were flapping hard enough to spook Cally on the walk to the warmup ring. Not exactly the way to inspire confidence, but we went into the ring and she warmed up great, so I was feeling a bit better, though showjumping hasn’t really been a weak point for us, because I feel pretty competent in the jumping ring. The round felt pretty solid–we had one bad distance to an oxer on the outside line, and she just got a little looky at the final combination of 10A/B, which I think was a function of the pattern on the fencing, so we ended up with one rail. I was pretty pleased, because watching the rounds before us, it seemed like everyone was having a rail or three.
XC warmup was less than stellar, as she stopped and tried to duck out hard right at the first fence, a little lattice log. I sort of expected that, as she’d been so rattled by the last XC experience. So we had a bit of a discussion, with a little assistance from Mr. Crop. Suddenly the fence was Not A Problem, and over we went. From a nice forward canter, we then came around again to a bit bigger log, and she locked on and went right over it! Excellent feeling, and off to the start box we went. She was a little prancy around the box, but I took a big deep breath and off we went. This time, I did what had worked for me in the past, which was sort of narrate around the course, talking to her. I’m sure I sounded crazy telling my horse, “I know you don’t like those turtles, and have never liked those turtles, but today you’re going to jump them like it’s no big deal,” but for whatever reason, it works. I think because saying it out loud actually makes ME think about what I need to do, and it also keeps me breathing and focusing, which in turn makes her easier to focus. Even the things that might have been a little scary, like the little house jump a few strides out from the second water on course, going uphill so that we didn’t get to see the water until we were almost at the fence. She felt locked and going the whole way around, not a foot wrong.
I could not have been prouder of how wonderfully she went around. If she did that every time out, we’d have no problems, and I just need to get us to the point where we can do that consistently.
After cooling out and packing up, WBBF, Daisy A. Dog, and I headed up to watch a friend go, and grab some lunch while waiting for the scores. While waiting on our BBQ, I checked the scoreboard and saw that after dressage, we were tied for SECOND! Granted, there were three tied for first, but still, that was definitely new and surprising and fantastic for us! Apparently all our hard work on our dressage over the summer has paid off! Eventually our scores went up, and I could not believe my eyes when I saw that we finished THIRD! Cally, obviously knows she is amazing, and that this was not a pleasant shock, but something to be expected.
It was certainly the note I had hoped to end our season on–better than I expected, in fact! Our show gear is all washed and put away for the season now, as we take the winter off to do some more homework on our dressage and show jumping. I’ve started looking to spring, and at what has dates listed so far, and it’s looking like we might start to venture out again in mid-March, so long as the weather cooperates.