Well, you already know how this one ends: no ribbons and a big pretty RF on my record. Falling in stadium was definitely a disappointing way to finish the weekend but it didn’t take away from all the fun (and it was an incredibly fun weekend).
Nor does it take away just how awesome Gus was jumping. By far and away, it was our best stadium round to date (minus the fall of course) and I really do think we’re ready to up the height and the technicality. Our pace stayed steady, Gus was taking me to the fences instead of always waiting for me to tell him to go, and we were both making decisions instead of hoping for the best. It’s just unfortunate that I had some bad luck.
So what happened is this: we came off a long sweeping corner to big vertical and I knew right away that we weren’t going to have a good distance. Maybe the right decision would have been to push more forward but I was worried about getting flat and bringing the rail down. Instead, I asked Gus to give me a long spot. And he did. Gus has never jumped like he did over that fence, cracking his back and sending me flying out of the saddle. I might have been able to hold on except Gus also twisted in mid air and there was no horse to come down on to. I slid right off his side like I was doing an emergency dismount. My feet landed then I fell backward onto my butt before I just flopped down in the sand.
It felt like forever that I lay on that ground but it wasn’t even a few seconds. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I had come off. But I jumped up and went to Gus, who was standing just a few feet away. This was not his fault, just bad luck.
But we both came out of it mostly unscathed. I did get a pretty nasty bruise on my leg, yanked my right shoulder muscles something awful, and probably had a minor concussion from something hitting me on the forehead (?!?) but nothing major. Gus didn’t even get a scratch. He got to enjoy a few well deserved days off while I downed Advil and tried to get through my work. I’ll trade with him any day!
I didn’t have high hopes for coming out of Area Champs with a ribbon. Not when there are 17 riders in your class and they’re all good. Not when you know dressage is a hit or miss. But I did kind of hope. Our ride at Stable View (which I will some day get around to recaping) had been absolutely beautiful. I knew that if we had another test like that, we had a chance.
But I also knew I was going to be battling the heat and humidity with a ride time of 3:22. Lovely.
Still, I was excited and I headed off to warm-up hopeful. And warm-up was perfect. Hot. Dusty. Blessedly short. But perfect. My hope started to rise. We could so do this.
Then we got into the arena and Gus fell apart including mini bucks as I asked him to enter the area where all the dressage tests were. I honestly don’t know what his deal is. He could care less about the horses in warm up. He could care less about the judge’s booth (he has never once even looked sideways at it) but we get in the dressage ring and suddenly he can’t bend right to save his life. Or move off my leg.
The three things I was happy with were: our right lead canter out of the diagonal which was ironically the only time he was willing to bend, the fact that he kept his head down in the free walk instead of giraffing, and our halt was as good as it has ever been. Otherwise, it was bad. Gus just could not even deal with dressage apparently.
I admit that it looks better than it felt as I received all 6’s and 7’s except for a 4.5 on the free walk/medium walk for jigging and a 5.5. on the medium walk prior to that for being behind the vertical.
Annoyingly enough, this only seems to happen at Chatt Hills. Not that we’ve had great luck elsewhere but the complete 180 is a Chatt thing. I am thinking about having my trainer take him to a schooling show here and just ride every test she can (and blow them if she has to). And then I’ll do the same.
Partly because I had to get ready for XC and partially because I really didn’t want to know… I wasn’t too concerned about checking scores. I knew that wasn’t good enough for a top 10 placing. Sure enough, it was a 39 and change. And we were sitting in 15th.
10. Showing horses in the summer in Georgia is the definition of masochism.
9. I was a lot more disappointed to be out of the ribbons after dressage than I thought I would be.
8. Gus is actually kind of a XC machine these days.
7. The course, while not actually soft, made me longingly look at the novice fences. Might be time for a move up?
6. XC is the whole reason I do this.
5. The good thing about being out of the ribbons is that my trainer let me forgo the coat and the braids. Silver lining?
4. Sunglasses are a must for me when showing in this sun. During dressage warm up I could barely see where I was going I was squinting so hard.
3. Sunglasses are also a really good way to hide the tears when you come off in Stadium and have to walk out of the ring.
2. My husband is a saint.
1. Gus Gus is the best.
Normally I don’t talk a lot about the pre-show time. Normally because it goes something like this: we got to the show, we set up, we walked courses, we rode, can’t wait for the actually show to start, woo hoo!
However, here’s how the pre-show time went for Stable View:
We had a four hour drive from the barn to Stable View that actually turned into six hours due to construction and rain. SO MUCH RAIN! Husband and I were hauling two horses this trip and there were some definitely scary moments where we could not see the road. But, luckily for us, Stable View was reporting wonderful sunny weather…
That is, the sun was shinning until we pulled in with the rain clouds. Seriously, drenched in seconds.
But the rain did manage to stop for a few minutes so that we could go walk XC.
Only to have it start thundering and lightening when we were five jumps from home.
Then the working student realized she left her helmet in her mom’s car (which was not on the grounds) so instead of having a quick lesson together, Gus and I waited and practiced our selfies under the huge covered arena while she borrows my helmet.
Then it was off to LT’s friend’s farm where we would be staying the night. Last time we were there Gus stayed in a little covered and hot-wired fence run in. He didn’t sleep all night so when I was given the option to let him stay in a big open field, I said yes. We let the horses out but they were both more interested in the grass so we went to clean up and decided to bring them their dinner in an hour.
And then I cried. And laughed, because what else are you going to do?
Stable View is one of my new favorite horse trials! I do wish there weren’t so many gnats and that they maybe held it over two days… but otherwise I couldn’t ask for a nicer show.
The grounds and venue were absolutely beautiful. They even had a huge covered arena that provided relief from the rain on Saturday and cover from the sun on Sunday. And if you like XC, well, Stable View’s is one to beat. It is not an easy course. It had big maxed out fences. But it was also a wonderful gallop type course that really let you ride most everything out of stride. The fences were big and pretty but not scary. The whole thing was wonderful.
And the staff and volunteers did such an amazing job. They had water for all breathing creatures available throughout the grounds. Water bottles for the humans, tanks and buckets for the four legged critters. And yes, I may have taken advantage after XC as well…
We managed to come home 6th out of a 19 in a very competitive BNR division. I was beyond thrilled… I didn’t think I had a shot at a ribbon this weekend. But I had wonderful coaching and a wonderful support system and we finished on our dressage score.
More coming in the next few days because I definitely have a LOT more pictures and stories to share (why is Gus’ tail orange? Well… stay tuned!). But I wanted to give a major shout out to how amazing this trial was. If you live within driving distance of this place, I highly recommend!