Finally, finally we got to go eventing again yesterday, at the Maryland Horse Trials Starter #3! The weather was perfect, our ride times were nice and late, allowing me to get a full night’s sleep on my normal sleep cycle before heading out to the barn, and Cally’s been in great form lately.
I’d planned to do a very light dressage warmup, because she’d been so much better with Less Is More the other weekend, but when I got to the ring, the steward informed me that two rides in front of me were missing, would I want to go early? Well, sure, but I’d like to warm up a little first! So I basically took the time of the one test in front of us at that point to do some good walking, and a bit of trotting. Then I told the judge and scribe about the situation as we did our lap around the ring, and down the centerline we went! I felt like it was a pretty solid test; we got mostly 6s (including all our collective marks), a few 7s, and two 5s, one of which was unfortunately on our free walk, which has a x2 coefficient, but I actually thought it was a pretty nice free walk, certainly better than the canter where she grabbed herself, resulting in a head flung straight up in the air in mareish indignation. So once we work a bit on keeping more energy along with our throughness, we’ll be good. The 39.5 was within a SJ rail of most of our (enormous) division, so seemed pretty much in line with things.
The SJ course was essentially a series of linked serpentines through the ring, and included a two-stride on the short end. Cally went in there and went around like a star, not batting an eye at anything and getting all her leads/changes. I was really happy with how she went around. And then we moseyed over to start the fun. Luckily for me, since WBBF was off sailing with Daisy A Dog, my barn owner stuck around to watch us go, and was kind enough to hang on to my water bottle for me, so I could grab a drink before heading out XC. Just having someone do that for you makes such a huge difference!
We walked the tiny log in warmup a few times, and when we got that nicely, I proceeded to trot the bigger, gnarly log. We landed and cantered away nicely, so I called that good for warmup, and we went to get our zen on by the start area.
The first two fences on the XC course, we trotted. For two reasons: one was just to make sure I had the responsiveness and quietness I wanted; two was to figure out the really funky line to fence two, which had a lot of distracting things around it, like and Intermediate fence and flapping barrier tape. But we made it over, and Cally rather joyously hand galloped up the hill to fence 3, where we had a really nice easy line from a brush to a small table to a gate, which I let her settle into a nice hand gallop and roll through easily, building confidence. Fence six was a little house heading up to water, which you didn’t see until you were close to the fence. But we’d been asked that question before, and she handled it just as nicely, jumping well then coming right back down to a walk through the water, with much praise. We swung out from the water a bit downhill to a produce stand, then on to the other water, where she was a little looky–it was late, and I think that had a lot to do with the effect of the light on the water, so while I’d been prepared to let her roll through there, we walked again, and again got much praise and pats. Which sort of left me not preparing for fence 10, which was a log about 5 strides after the water. Ooops! We made a big hairpin turn, where we unfortunately crossed our tracks and ended up with a “stop”, but once I got us back on track, she went right over. That one was total pilot error, and not at all a “stop” in the traditional sense. So I accept responsibility for that one, and consider it well-fixed on our parts.
Then we headed up into the woods, and I let her roll from then on, over a coop in the trees, the little turtles she always looks hard at, the cordwood out of the woods that had previously been a bit of a sticky point for us, and then on to the final three, downhill in the setting sunshine, to a hanging log, a lattice, and a rolltop, which we probably could have used another half-halt to, but it was the final fence and she was feeling so good and so confident that I let her have it. She got a lot of praise and treats when we got back to the trailer, and we hung around to find out how we finished.
We ended up 8th out of13, and would have done much better, were it not for the pilot brainfart. But that’s all on me, she was totally amazing, and I could not have been happier with how she went around.
Now it’s on to Waredaca in two weeks, were hopefully we can get in a clean XC run. Perhaps the pilot will make sure she’s had her Wheaties before heading out on course, as my coach in college used to say.