Well it went pretty darn well!
On Friday night, we went up to Mystic and walked the courses. They looked pretty good, stadium looked like it was do-able but might catch a few people out in certain places. Cross country was actually the same exact course I jumped at their schooling show last October so I knew that we could do everything on it.
I headed back to the barn, gave Ben a bath, braided him. Ben's mane is impossibly hard to braid. Its thickness is about the equivalent of three normal manes. He will not allow me to pull it, so thinning it that way is out. If I want to shorten it I have to use a SoloComb. So I have taken to thinning it with thinning shears. They work pretty well but Ben's mane is so thick that I could thin out handfuls of hair at a time and you can't see a difference. For a while I was thinning his mane for about 10 minutes everyday when I groomed him but now I have gotten lazy and the days the thinning does happen, its only for about 3-5 minutes. So I guess, in a way, what happened next is all my fault...
His mane looked the best it ever had and I had the fewest braids I have ever had. We usually end up somewhere around upper 20s, low 30s but I have had 38 at one point I believe. Well we only had 16 this time. I was ecstatic. And they actually looked good! So we made him all pretty, put his stretchy hood on, fly sheet on to keep him clean, put him outside. Yes, I put him outside. That's probably another reason why what happened next is all my fault.
Although, here's the thing: I could leave him inside and have him be all clean and pretty when I get there the next morning. But I would much rather leave him outside, have him nice and dirty when I get there, and behave himself at the show. As much as I would like him to look as nice as he possibly can, the quality of our performance is much more important than what we look like. When he is turned out overnight, he is a different horse at shows.
So anyway, I show up to the barn at about 6 am on Saturday morning, bring him into his stall, take his sheet off, unclip the hood, start pulling it off - uh oh... There's maybe four braids left in his mane. I wanted to scream and cry and throw myself on the ground and take the clippers to his mane right then and there. But instead, I put him back on the crossties and rebraided his entire mane in 20 minutes. And they still looked pretty damn good! That is until we got to the show and Ben started flinging his head around and shaking because he absolutely hates to be braided. Thats when my 20 minutes braids started to go flying. By the time we made it to the dressage arena two of the braids were completly out and the rest were flopping around all loose. But hey, what are you gonna do?
So we arrived at the show, I got my packet, and asked the woman at the secretary's stand where I could lunge my horse. She said if I did it before 9, I could lunge in stadium warmup. Well, my dressage time was 9:25 and I only wanted to get on my horse at 9:15. I was not going to lunge him for a half hour. So we walk back to the trailer and I decided that I was just going to lunge him in a corner of the grass field we were parked in. So I lunged him with side reins and he was so good.
My plan was to hop on and go right to the dressage ring, in order to avoid going into the warmup ring with all those other scary horses... So I just decided to warm up in the field where I lunged him. He was very good, we warmed up for 10 minutes, then headed over to the dressage arena. We checked in and went right into the ring to do our test.
It certainly had its good moments and there was no bucking. Unfortunately, there were not enough good moments and we ended up with a 45.5. Ew! The good news: four other people had scores worse than me so were in 12th out of 16th after dressage.
I will save you the trouble of watching my test by not posting it here...
Next up was stadium. Did I mention that this day was the hottest day of the year so far? And that I was due for stadium at noon, right when the sun was at its worst? Luckliy we were jumping in our xc stuff because xc was 20 minutes after stadium, so I wasn't dying in my jacket!
The stadium course was a vertical, a pretty sharp turn away from the ingate to a forward bending line that was riding in 6 or 7, depending on how much you bent it. The bending line was a pretty upright maximum vertical to a pretty wide oxer. From there you made a sharp turn onto the short side to another oxer. Then you turned down the long side to another oxer, tight bending line to a very forward four strides to a vertical. Up the diagonal, vertical, bending line to a two stride in and out, vertical to oxer. The oxer on the out was maximum and the distance was a long two strides. Final turn down the long side to a two vertical line in a forward five. The course was a lot to think about. It tested riding forward distances while maintaining rhythm and control to make the turns that came up very quickly. A lot of people had trouble balancing these two concepts. They either rode two forward and missed lines and turns or didn't ride forward enough and ended up with ugly chips.
We went double clear. We had one short, deep spot at the vertical before the in and out and a couple of long fences but it felt pretty darn good and is probably one of our better stadium rides. Much better than our lesson last Tuesday!
Here's the video:
Then we headed over to the start box. There was supposed to be 20 minutes in between phases but they were running early so we decided to go. We only waited about 7 minutes. The time was really tight and most people were not making it. It was 400 mpm around a 2000 meter course in 5 minutes. Very tight. The course started out in a sand ring where the start box and the first fence were. The first fence was just a raised log with some hay bales under it. That jumped very well for us.
Then it was a gallop up into the field and a long approach to fence number 2. It is an ascending oxer and its quite small for a Novice fence but they fill it in with hay bales to beef it up and make it more like a hogsback. That jumped just fine too.
Then it was a decent sized up bank, a downhill log, to the ditch. The bank rode great. The downhill hill log jumped great, but downhill things get us excited and we thought it would be a good idea to buck on the landing. Not such a hot idea. I pulled him up in time and all was well, I just would have preferred he didn't do that! And then came the ditch. Ben doesn't understand ditches all too well and he is convinced that scary monsters live in them and he needs to jump three feet over them to stay away from them. Hey, at least he goes!
Upon landing I had lost my left stirrup. If I had cantered up to the ditch, I would have expected the above reaction. However, I came down to a nice balanced trot a bit before and just expected him to pop over it... Nope. So I got my stirrup back and we galloped down to the coops. Two huge coops, a very forward three strides apart. Ben is not a fan. We turned to them and I lost his shoulder to the left. We then went in crooked. I then saw the wrong distance and then I looked straight at the fence. I am sure we can all guess what happened next. Yep, he stopped. So we reapproached and had a much better jump through!
I was mad about the refusal but it was all my fault so I didn't let it get to me. Number 8 was just some ascending rails that jumped great and then we galloped into the woods to the water. It is a big log, a few strides into the water, than a couple of strides out to another log. He was so good! He galloped right up to the log, flew over it cantered right into the water, trotted through it, then cantered out and over the other log! It was awesome! Then we jumped a downhill hanging log with no groundline. The jump isn't big but where it is on the course makes it hard. Then we galloped on to the biggest fence on the course, a big, airy, maximum height and width table. He took off really long but it worked out just fine!
Then we galloped up to a drop fence. It is a small vertical situated at the top of a steep drop off. The drop is probably a good 3 feet. He was excelllent over that. Then we galloped up over a little log pile, up a ramp and off a bank, over a big bench that gives the table a run for its money as the biggest fence on course, a stone wall, and finally the hanging long, back into the ring over the finish. We were obviously over time because of our refusal but I honestly believe we would have made time if we hadn't had it. I was so proud of my horse, he was such a good boy. It was a great outing for the first event of the season! I think we ended up in 11th out of 16 which is not too bad considering we had a refusal. If I didn't have the refusal and made time, I would've placed 7th. Oh well, there's always next time!
Here's the xc video from the second part: fences 15 to the end:
This is the video of fences 1-8, including the ditch and the refusal (although you can't see the actual refusal just the reapproach). I have no idea why in the world it is so blurry so I apologize for that. The ditch is still pretty funny to watch despite it being blurry!:
Ben was pretty hot and sweaty after xc but after getting sponged and scraped he cooled down in about 5 minutes. He was very happy to be home and had a nice roll when I turned him out. He got Sunday off and then we had a pretty decent flat ride on Monday. Next up for us is Apple Knoll Farm schooling trials on June 19th!
As always, thanks for reading guys, I should be updating soon!