The time to tack up and get ready for stadium came way to soon. We had walked the course the night before but my memory really wasn’t all that great and it had been such a sweeping big course that I wasn’t feeling confident about getting every fence. I had to watch a few people ride it to really get it down and I’ll admit that, on course, I had a couple of panic moments where I just kept riding around the rail hoping the fence would come up.
The one positive that I am really holding on to is that when we walked down to the arena and saw the fences, I was convinced that they were still running the Tadpole division and that they hadn’t moved the fences up. It’s not that they look particularly small but they didn’t look huge. Actually, they really didn’t look that big at all. It was amazing.
And then when I went in there to ride my test, Gus didn’t look at a single fence. We didn’t get all the correct distances of course, but I kept my leg strong and my elbows soft and rode the hell out of that course. New Trainer was super pleased and thought that was my best stadium to date. Of course, she hasn’t seem some of the really disastrous ones but it still meant a lot.
Gus was still a tiny bit spooky as we rode past the judge’s tent which was right next to a two stride line but that will come with more rides in different places. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t get him through the line, obviously, but it did lead to a less than pleasant second fence.
But even with the spook and one disastrous approach to fence 9, we rode a great course, had no rails down and came in under time. Another double clear for Gus and I. I like going double clear, makes me feel good even at a schooling show.
Double clear aside, the thing I really can’t leave alone is just how confident I felt the whole time. Even with being sick, even not being sure I knew the whole course, even back talking to New Trainer in warm-up (um, blame that on being sick?), I didn’t fear that course. This is HUGE for me.
Last year I was still nervous about getting around the Tadpole stadium course and now I’m thinking the BN course doesn’t look big enough. While I’m not ready for Novice yet, this is the first time in a long time I’ve stepped out of the stadium ring and thought that I might be by the end of the year.
I could have ended my day here and been totally happy with how well everything had gone. Gus was on point and I was managing to hold it together. Win – Win. But we still had XC up and I was going to have to dig deep to find the energy for that!