Once again I have failed at updating my blog. Sorry. Again.
Things unfortunately have not been going terribly well for us due to a number of reasons. The most important thing is that Ben is healthy and sound and working great at home.
Last I wrote, we were headed off to the Lord Creek Horse Trials. Ben was braided, ready to go, all cleaned up. Lifted his front hoof to pick it - loose shoe. No farrier at the show. No show for us.
I was really disappointed because I had already gone and walked the course and I really believed he would have rocked it and we would have done really well. Lord Creek is like our home field because we school there all the time and he is always really calm there.
I was going to go out there and school the full Novice course just like it was at the event, but the day I was supposed to go to run it, it poured and the ground was too soft.
So without any sort of cross country experience since ENYDCTA in July, we headed out to King Oak Horse Trials this past weekend. We stabled overnight which is always fun. I like meeting new people and talking to them about their rides.
Our Sunday started off with an okay dressage warm-up and a not so stellar dressage test. I had a sand ring but it was surrounded by woods which was most definitely not helpful as Ben was the lookiest he has ever been in a test. He rushed through the whole thing and was just not paying attention at all. We scored a disappointing 49.1 which put us in 15th out of 16. But hey, at least it wasn't a 50 and at least we weren't last!
His dressage perfromance at shows is just so depressing for me because I am really the only person who knows what he is capable of. My trainer and everybody else for that matter thinks that that is the best he can do, which it most defintely is not. When he is calm and focused he can score a 33 on a Training level test! Everybody keeps trying to tell me that he has come such a long way since I got him, and its true, he defintely has. I just wish he would show more of it off when it really counts. One day I am sure he will surprise me and he'll just be perfect. Let's hope it's sometime soon...
We warmed up great for stadium, he felt awesome. The course wasn't terribly difficult but the fences were certainly maxed out and the ring was tiny. We went in and hit the perfect spot to the first fence. Going into the second fence I was fussing with my lead too much and got him too far behind my leg and we had a silly stop at the second fence. Oops, my fault entirely. I need to realize that Ben is more sensitive than he seems sometimes and I need to start thinking about how what I do will affect him before I do it. Then we won't have silly things happen to us like that. The rest of the course went flawlessly and aside from that stop, we had a clean round with a few time due to the stop. I was still very happy with him because it wasn't his fault.
Then we moved on to cross country. The first fence was out of the startbox, right turn, and downhill. Not the most inviting thing, but I wasn't concerned. The startbox was facing the woods however and right as I made the turn to the first fence, something in there caught his eye and we started backing up and leaping and refusing to go forward. I fianlly got him up to the base of the fence very stickily and he stopped right at it because he just couldn't jump it from where he was. So we came back around and jumped it fine. I later found out that the jump judges awarded us two stops when in reality it was only one. That made me a little mad but I suppose it didn't really matter.
Made it over two in the field just fine, galloped up the big hill into the woods, over the hanging log, dowhill, fly over the palisade, downhill, sharp turn, ditch.
I rode that ditch the hardest I have ever ridden any fence in my life. I did exactly what my trainer told me to do. There is not one thing that I would have done differently. Not a thing. And he took off for it. But only because the momentum was propelling him forward so much that he couldn't stop. And when he took off, I had a split second of being extremely happy that my horse was jumping the ditch. And then all of a sudden I was clinging to his neck and then I was on the ground, trying not to let me horse go running off on a tour of the property. Again.
He JUMPED THE DITCH, landed his front feet on the other side, and BACKED BACK OVER THE DITCH, right out from under me. Wouldn't it have just been easier to continue going over it? No, of course not, because this is Ben we're talking about.
I was fine of course, I actually landed on my feet, until my horse kind of pulled me onto the ground trying to get away from me. And he did. And he took off. Obviously he was caught and he was in big trouble for the rest of the day... He's lucky he is so well loved.
So there is some extreme re-evaluating to do about what the rest of this season brings. Last season was such a great experience. We did our first two Beginner Novices together, moved up to Novice, and got a ribbon at every Novice we did that season. This spring we had a bit of a rocky start with a combined test in April where he was absolutely nuts and then a pretty good run at our first event back in May, with a silly stop on xc. After that, I knew our season would go better and we might have even been looking at a Training move-up in 2012 if things panned out.
I've only completed one event this season and it kills me to say that because I know we are so much better than that. The two events I didn't get to attend at all, Frazier due to the weather and Lord Creek due to his shoe, I think we had a really great shot at. And in all honesty, it is only one aspect that we are having trouble with. If he jumped ditches, we would have come home clean at every event we went to this season.
So the plan of action for now is go Beginner Novice at Ethel Walker on October 16th, just to have a good run for both of us. Then bump back up to Novice at Fall Mystic the last weekend in October because we've already ridden that course twice and I know he can do it. Then we're going on a two day cross country school early November with my trainer where we go to two different cross country schooling areas and jump every ditch we can find until he's over it. Then spend the winter doing the indoor schooling jumper series at the hunter/jumper place a few miles away from us, and then come back out next season better than ever, with new and improved dressage, awesome jumping, and no fear of ditches. Obviously with horses plans never actually happen so that is my little dream world under ideal conditions. I think that this can work and I am so looking forward to turning the page, and getting all of this negativeness behind us.
Thanks for reading and giving me a place to vent.