People who know me could safely describe me as stubborn. You can tell me what is the best way to do something all day, but in the end, I'm probably going to end up doing what I want to do anyway.
Maybe that's not the best character trait. Sometimes it can be beneficial. Standing up for the right thing, doing what I think is in the best interest of my horse, not letting anything get to me, etc.
But more often than not, it gets me into some not so good situations, that not only affect me, but can also affect the people, and horses, around me.
What I'm getting at here is that I know that Ben and I are more than capable of competing very successfully at Novice. We've proven that in the past, placing 2nd in our very first Novice, earning an 8th place at out first recognized Novice after an awesome double clear cross country round, finsishing 2nd again at a recognized Novice...
However, at this point, given our experiences of last season, between the ditch issues and the ulcers and the crazy weather, a normal person would take a step back. Drop down a level, go schooling, take it slow.
Me? I was so focused on what other people around my riding level were doing (getting ready to move up to Training, placing at most Novices, etc.) that I was just pushing Ben to do what may not really be the best thing for him.
I did a lot of thinking about this last night. Could my horse go out and start the season at Novice? Absolutely. Could he jump around Novice cross country clear? No doubt about it (minus ditches unless we get to schooling them before the start of the season). Would he be better off being over confident stepping over Beginner Novice jumps for an event or two at the beginning of the season? Probably.
So, this thinking led me to tell myself to ditch the stubborn part of me that is saying "We'll show everyone that we can do Novice well and with no problems" and do what is right for my horse. It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, as long as I'm doing what is best for Ben and me.
Just because he can do it, doesn't mean that it will be the best thing for his training and confidence in the long run. So I rewrote my eventing schedule at about one in the morning last night...
We have two combined tests in April and May, which we will do Novice at. That won't be an issue at all. Then the first event of the season, we'll just play around at Beginner Novice. He just needs to lope around a small, flat course and feel like a badass for a little while. This will also give us an opportunity to improve our dressage where the judging is a little softer.
The second event of the season is still a toss up. Unfortunately, its the week after the first one, so I won't be able to run him Beginner Novice for the first event and then decide if he should do another one or if we should move back up. At the moment, I'm leaning towards another Beginner Novice because it can't hurt. I may contact the organizer and see if she'll be willing to let me tell her the week before what division I want to compete in but there is a good chance she won't be able to do that, so I guess we'll start the season and decide from there.
A big part of this season for me was hoping to compete at the Novice Championships at Fitch's Corner. I think that was a huge reason for me not wanting to drop to Beginner Novice for the first event or two, because that would completely limit my qualifying events. However, I have just decided that if we end up qualifying at Beginner Novice, we'll go for Beginner Novice. If we don't qualify, then we'll head to Riga Meadow Horse Trials the weekend before to move back up to Novice. If we complete the Beginner Novice Championships well, I'll pick an event after that to move back up to Novice.
It feels good to forget about what everyone else is doing and just focus on Ben and myself. Turns out I am actually more excited for eventing season to start now that I have finalized this decision than I was before. Thanks for reading guys, and thanks for giving me a place to write out my thoughts.