Area III Champs at Chatt Hills – Stadium

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!

 

Area III Champs at Chatt Hills – XC

I only have one regret about XC last weekend…. I didn’t turn on my Cambox. *cue tears* I was just so focused and gunned that I completely forgot. Which is a bummer because it was a super cool and fun course and I wanted to share it all with you.

I will say though, that after running XC at Stable View which is maxed out and very well decorated, Chatt looked… small. Not easy. But small. And a bit plain. There were still some technical questions that I thought were appropriate for the level and all with the goal of moving you up and getting you ready for the next level.

My goal for this run was to really ride for time. I didn’t need to of course, but so far I have been coming in way too fast and I want to start working on where I am and how fast I need to be going. I knew all the minute markers and the halfway by heart so I felt pretty good about this. Gus was pretty amped up in warm up and going into the box. So when the volunteer told me “Have a great ride!” I started my watch and walked out. He was not pleased.

This was by far and away our best run ever. Gus was game for everything, rated when asked, and took everything out of stride. He was a little unimpressed but I’ll take it! We hit the first three minute markers right on point and then we got to the water.

Now, Gus was perfect to the water. He jumped “Noah’s Ark” like he’s done it a million times (he has) and powered into the water like a good XC horse. Love him.

We swung out wide to go over the table and then got to the jump before “The Hump.” This was supposed to be my 4 minute marker but we hit it at 3:30. Grrr. The water rode faster than I was expecting. But this was not an area where I wanted to power down so we kept going. The Hump was fun because it was a big mound and a much steeper downside to another fence than I’ve ever asked Gus to tackle. He got to the top of the hill, saw the downside and balked.

I could almost hear him say “are you kidding mom?!” But he trotted down gamely and then cantered out over the little fence. Good boy!

We were able to slow down at that point, and did trot some, to get back almost on our minute markers. Gus did not even bat an eye and rode so well.

I am so so proud of how well Gus did. I think part of it is that he really does like his new bit (I’ll do a post on that later) but most of it is that he actually understands his job and loves it. That’s all I can ask for! I am also really proud of myself because it wasn’t so long ago that I was looking at these BN fences and thinking “holy heck, there is no way” and now I am wanting to jump novice. It is so incredible what a good trainer will do for the confidence.

Area III Champs at Chatt Hills – Dressage

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.

Chatt Hills Schooling Show XC Pictures

There wasn’t an offical photographer at the Chatt Hills schooling show a few weeks ago but the photographer that was going to be there for the Connemara show the next day actually got some XC pictures! I am so happy that I have a few since my normal photographer wasn’t there to help me out (how dare he ditch me for a bachelor party!).

These were the last few fences on course so by this time we’re both a little tired. Still, I’m happy with the effort even if it seems we got a little too close to the base of the fence. One step at a time right?

Plus I really think my black/white/orange set up for XC is kind of rocking it right now. Classy yet still bold.

Chatt Hills Schooling Show 6.10.17

If there’s one take away from the Chatt Hills Schooling Show this weekend, it’s that I am a lot better at this whole eventing thing than I sometimes believe. And I’m not talking about coming home with blue ribbons or even ribbons at all (though I did) but rather the fact that even though I looked at the XC course and thought “shit, those look big,” once I was out there, it didn’t phase me a  bit. In fact, I’m sort of wondering when I can start thinking about moving up again.

But that’s a different topic for a different day.

I did not take any time off from work on Friday which unfortunately meant that I was leaving for Chatt right in the middle of rush hour traffic. Luckily though, it only added 15 minutes to our trip. I love that Chatt Hills is so close to the farm! But with the heat and late hour it seemed like we really had to rush to get a quick ride in and then walk the XC course. Neither seemed to go great. Gus was acting like a lunatic and spooking at everything and I couldn’t stop thinking about one very big and very wide table on XC. Lovely way to end the night.

But, miracle of miracles, when I got on Gus the next morning to warm up for dressage, he was so so lovely. Even tempo, connected in the outside rein, soft flexion in his pole. He’s never warmed up quite like that before! Unfortunately, it didn’t last to the ring. We still had a nice lovely tempo and our canter transitions and circles were quite nice if I do say so myself. The bend, however, was gone and I fought for every single step of that test.

The judge was quite generous though and gave us nothing but 6/7s the whole way around. And we even got a 7 for our halt which included a big stumble. Oh Gus.

It didn’t show really in the scores but I do think that our dressage is improving. Now I am able to hold him together for a decent test despite his greenness. The next step is for him to actually stay relaxed when we go into the sandbox. We’ll get there.

Both of my jumping phases were right in the middle of the early afternoon when the sun is high and the humidity is at its worst and I was really feeling it. All I could think about in stadium warm up was how hot I was and how badly I wanted to just get in the ring and get my round over with. All because I was dying in this heat! Warm up, however, went really really well.

Usually at Chatt Hills I have done stadium in the entire big ring but this weekend they had it roped down to a smaller arena. This made things much more manageable. LT’s goal was to have us ride the whole thing with no chips. Forward. Forward. Forward. And that’s what we did. Okay, we did have one little chip to fence 3 but otherwise it was foot perfect. Even with a rail on fence 6 I think that’s the best course we’ve ridden. I was feeling really good going into XC.

There was not enough time to completely untack Gus between stadium and XC so I loosened the girth, stuck him in front of the fan and did everything I could to keep us both comfortable for the ten minutes before we had to walk the long path down to XC. I was exhausted and I thought for sure Gus would be too. Nope! I quickly found that I had absolutely no breaks and had to switch his reins down a hole on the elevator. Good thing I did not put the loose ring back on like I had intended! Once I had breaks, though, we flew through warm up and were ready to go.

So here’s the one thing that ticked me off this weekend. They were running ahead and taking people as they were ready. So I went up to the volunteers and said “I’m ready!” and they told me I could go after 251. There was one other person before 251 so we would be third up. That was okay. Perfect timing to just be done with my warm up and give us both a breather.

But then, when 251 went in, 244 said they were ready to go and since I was 245, I was told to wait. Well that was a little frustrating but alright. Then, just as 244 was leaving the start box and I headed over to get ready, they told me 243 was ready and I would have to wait again! When I protested they told me “It’s only 4 minutes” That’s when I got angry, I had already been waiting 12. If you are letting people go out of order and ahead of time, you don’t tell them they’re up next and then keep pushing them back. Even LT got a little miffed and told them that this was not fair to me.

Look, I know volunteering is a thankless task. Usually I am always there with a smile and a thank you for everyone I meet at an event whether you’re a volunteer or a fellow competitor (maybe not always if you are my ever suffering husband, sorry babe!). But this time they were actually hurting my chances. I had warmed up and done everything I was suppose to in checking in and getting in the order of go. I was miffed and, while I didn’t raise my voice, you better believe I berated them as I was waiting my next turn. I don’t even feel bad about it. We plan our warm ups carefully so that both rider and horse are ready to go when our turn comes. I don’t like this hunter hurry up and wait shit.

LT asked if I wanted to warm up again but I didn’t. I was running out of strength and I knew I’d need it on the course. So I walked away from the gate keepers and ignored their “try to have a good ride” wishes. You better believe I was going to have a good ride.

And then I let it go. I had a horse to ride and a XC course to conquer!

And if you watched the video… you’ll see that we did!

Like stadium, our goal for this outing was to go forward and jump the fences out of stride. While we had a few wonky steps we didn’t have any real chips so I am counting this as major progress. The wide table I was worried about? Not a problem for Gus Gus! We could have gotten it out of stride if I had put on the gas a bit more but by then I was exhausted.


Gus was also very hesitant about that bridge and once we were on it, he freaked out over the water. This was all very silly to me since we went over a bridge like this at Foxberry ALL THE TIME but that’s horses for you. We actually had to walk over it. Walking! On XC! I’m sure that will never happen again.

Due to the rail in stadium we dropped down to fifth but I was so thrilled with Gus and his willingness to just go for it all. He is really starting to grow up and I can tell he loves his job. This was exactly the prep I needed for Stable View H.T. in two weeks.

Bring it on!