OK. So, despite our late start to the year and missing our knock-the-rust-off training go at MCTA because of me spraining my ankle 2 days beforehand, Vernon and I had a GREAT go in his first ever prelim at FHI, and my first prelim in 5 years (doesn't seem that long, but once I did the math...oh well). We had a really great, confidence building xc lesson with one of the boss' coaches this past week, which re-affirmed that I KNOW how to do this and that Vernon was ready for the challenge.
Dressage: First, ULCER GUARD IS A VERY GOOD THING. I seriously think the UG is one of the biggest breakthroughs we've had with him this spring. He was for the most part relaxed and happy and mostly obedient with decent leg yields and pretty good counter canter work (our two big issues). We still have some things to work on to get him from ok to good, and he still pitched two minor temper tantrums/brat moments, but they were VERY minor compared to some of his antics at his outings over the winter and early spring, and very short lived. The boss' assessment was "moments of brilliance." I'll totally take that, since my dressage goal was, "don't get bucked off." Goal met.
Show jumping: Considering my only goal for show jumping was "don't embarrass myself" I managed to not only meet my goal, but exceed it. It was a fairly tough course, though I think it rode better today than it was for the training rides yesterday (the ground seemed a little holding yesterday). Vernon was jumping out of his skin and I actually managed to ride a decent round. We had two rails, one of which I had NOTHING to do with, he basically just didn't jump high enough. The second one I just let us get a little quick and flat. Oh well...considering my past performances in my most dreaded phase, I'll take it!
Cross country: I'll admit that when we walked the course yesterday afternoon, my eyes were totally going The course was BIG. Started out nice enough, but at the third fence, while I was walking, I was kinda "oh, sweet Jesus," and it was like that for awhile into the course, with a BIG ditch and wall and a HUGE trakhner that I swear came to my forehead when we walked yesterday (I'm 5'3"!). It was a FAIR course, I thought, it just loomed very, very large in my brain all night and I was quaking in my boots a bit this morning. After dressage Stella the dog and I went for another walk around it and, thankfully, it shrank down to a much more manageable size.
After a momentary debacle at the startbox (my fault...bad planning), Vernon went out and proceeded to jump out of his skin all the way around and ATE. IT. UP. He was loving every minute of it, even at our less than spectacular moments at a couple of fences in a row early on (I got my s**t together and fixed it). He was fantastic, and jumped around handily and was still pulling my arms out at the last. Clean, quite a few time penalties, but since I wasn't going for time and just didn't want to end up with too many to have a NQR (we made it with plenty to spare).
Needless to say I am really freaking happy! I STILL think back to his very first outing and how he trooped around, figuring it out as he went, and it makes me SO proud that he has continued to grow into such a game, hard working, fun loving horse. He makes me SO proud and I am SO excited for the rest of the year (and the years to come!).
I'm so very happy for you, Amanda. These have been lean years for you...so now the start to Prelim went well and things will only get better as you and Vernon just keep on learning!!!! Congratulations!!!! Carrots to your lovely boy, please...
~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan
Congrats! I was fence judging today at the ditch and brush. I remember seeing you come through and having a BIG effort there haha. Glad you had a successful move up!
As a side note, has anyone else noticed an unusually high number of rails in stadium at HT's lately? My guy pulled 3 rail yesterday in the Training. I can admit that he is not a super careful jumper, but it just seemed like a lot of people were having multiple rails, even at Novice. In my division at MCTA 2 weeks ago there were only 3 clear rounds in my division out of something like 25 horses. Is that normal?
MCTA show jumping ALWAYS seems to ride pretty poorly for some reason. As for this weekend, I thought it was the footing yesterday, as it did just seem kinda sticky and cuppy. But, now after riding it, I think the lines were built to encourage forward (maybe TOO forward) riding and a lot of people got too flat. I didn't watch THAT much sj today, though, so it's tough to say what the issue was. I don't think it is really a trend...at least not in the course design...
Thanks for jump judging! Yes, the ditch and wall was not one of our finest moments...as good as the majority of the course went, I am picking apart my rides at my three less than glorious fences.
For me personally, I know that I just got rolling along on too big of a stride. I had it in my mind that everyone said the course was riding really forward, so I ended up overriding a little bit. Oh well, lesson learned.
But I just can't imagine what in the world you would have to do to have 5 and 6 rails at NOVICE?!
Congrats Amanda! I was a few ahead of you in your division and thought it was a course that rode better than it walked, but that wasn't easy by any means. That ditch/wall gets me too (ditch and wall + Fair Hill = bad memories) but it jumped quite well. Bit of an interesting moment jumping up the bank out of the water, but he found an extra leg and righted himself and it worked itself out. Photos of that one likely will have entertainment potential.
I thought the ground in stadium was quite holding/almost sticky, and particularly in the first half of the course was having a rugged time getting him to jump well out of it. Nothing like starting a round with a bit of bowling for rails.
Does anyone know who the judge was in Ring 1 on Sunday (she judged OP-B)? Unfortunately, I had one of the most unpleasant interactions I've ever had with a licensed official with her (she was not my judge).
GS, I saw you at the water while Stella and I were walking and thought you did a SPECTACULAR job of just letting him work it out. So many people would have gone into panic mode and just made matters worse there. He was a good, handy boy!
I rode in ring 1 and the judge was a guy. He was a little less than loving of Vernon, but I also totally get what he was saying.
Thanks Amanda - he was very clever/catty there. I think he just slipped a bit in front up the bank and had to find his front feet but he wants so badly to be sensible that he figured it out. I count myself lucky every day I sit on that horse - he certainly earned his peppermints there!
Whoops - ring 2. The ring on the left as you're looking down from warm-up - the female judge with grey hair, not the male judge. There wasn't anyone in her ring when I went in to start my test and the warm-up steward hadn't said anything to me about where to go in, so I trotted past her to get to my ring and she chewed me up and down for doing so. I apologized profusely (it hadn't been intentional) and her response was "You're not sorry, you just stupidly weren't paying attention." Which was, I thought, a bit much, particularly for what was at most an honest mistake, and not really the kind of competitor interactions we want to be encouraging. Sigh. At least everyone else there was really nice! Big thank yous also to the stadium/XC warm up stewards who had to deal with all of us not being able to figure out which warm up to use when!
I had 3 rails, which was unusual. My horse was definitely one of those that got too forward and flat in stadium--we got a 4 and a 5 in that long line instead of two 5s. (At T) He hit the fence just after the long line, which was crappy riding on my part, but he also had the second part of the sailboats and then the last fence down, and he really didn't feel like he even hit the sailboat, and just brushed across the last fence a tiny bit. So I do think they came down more easily than usual, maybe, and I did feel like the footing was both torn up and hard, which didn't help given the way the course was set. I never have great stadiums at FH with this horse, though--the fences are just too spread out, which gives us too much time to think!
Yikes! I trotted right in front of her ring, too...I saw people doing it all morning, so didn't think anything of it. I think I might have cried if she'd said anything to me...I was barely keeping it together at that point.