November Poplar Place HT 2017 – Stadium

For as much as I hate Poplar’s Schooling Show stadium courses, their recognized courses are always a lot of fun and tend to really suit Gus. When there are big open spaces between the fences I tend to let him get long and strung out and we pull rails. Twisty courses are much more our style and this course was all about the turns and the approach.

That being said, stadium is still my weak point. I’m getting better, and I was pleased to see that the Novice sized fences looked normal sized, but I still struggle with confidence issues. Especially when things start getting hectic in warm-up. There were more falls then there should have been at this level. The icky weather might have had something to do with it but I was still surprised at the carnage both in the warm-up and the ring.

Even with a refusal at the oxer in warm up (I hope we’re not developing a complex!) I felt pretty good when we got into the ring and I rode hard to every jump. We may have gotten a little crazy to some of the fences and Gus wasn’t really willing to be soft, but we made it through with only one rail. Jump 7 was an oxer set on its own with a long approach, see above but I let Gus get long and we pulled it down. Darn.

Coming into the two stride, Gus wanted to refuse and we got right up to the base as I pushed him over it and then kicked my way out of it. I know we knocked the rail there two but it did stay up and that’s all that matters!

After we finished, I took care of Gus and high tailed it down to watch a couple of team mates ride the Beginner Novice course. I was stunned at how little the fences looked. And I say that not take away from their accomplishments or anybody riding at that level but rather as a marker for how far I’ve come. Just a few weeks ago I thought those fences were huge and scary. Now they look like speed bumps.

This sport continues to surprise me in how much of a mental game it really is.

November Poplar Place HT 2017 – Dressage

I only had one goal for Poplar: end with a number and get another qualification ride for the Heart of the Carolinas N3D.

Between work and Pax I had been so busy leading up to Poplar that I didn’t feel prepared in any sense of the word. Even arriving ended up being a mess after getting stuck on the freeway in bumper to bumper traffic and almost run off the road by a semi who hadn’t left himself enough room to stop and thought veering into my lane was a good idea. It was not. But thankfully we made it thru okay.

So you see, I was pretty sure this was going to be a shit show and I had decided to just not care.

It was definitely a surprise then that I got in the ring on Saturday morning for warm-up and had a compliant and obedient horse under me. The temperatures had dropped with a bitter breeze blowing through and usually Gus needs a warm-up the day before to get all the crazy out oh him but he got right to work. Was there maybe a chance that I wasn’t going to blow this show?

Turns out, no, there was not. As soon as we got into the ring, Gus went back to his old spooky self. It wasn’t an awful test but it was not fluid and it was not connected. I was battling pretty hard to maintain any sort of connection though I felt pretty good about the canter transitions and the down centerlines.

But Gus was looky and he was not with me. I knew we weren’t going to score well. We left the ring and I shrugged my shoulders. Sometimes it’s just not your day, right?

LT was pretty positive though. She had seen some good moments and was proud of how I rode to get through the sticky stuff. It wasn’t going to be my best score ever, but she still seemed hopeful.

I was the only one not surprised when I picked it up to find a 40.0. Basically 6’s across the board. Oh well, can’t please every dressage judge.