Whew, time flies when you're running back to back events!
Well, I finally got the videos uploaded yesterday, and I found some time to write this post today. Didn't even realize it was Friday already!
So, last Saturday seemed to be shaping up to be a pretty successful event.
I decided not to lunge Ben just to experiment and it ended up working out very nicely for us. He definitely gets more tense when I lunge him at shows. So that's good news that I figured that out, and it also makes things a lot less stressful between trying to find a place to lunge that I won't get yelled at for, to bringing a bunch of extra lunging equipment.
I warmed up for about a half hour and for the first twenty minutes it was going really, really badly. He was calling to everyone and was leaping and zooming around with his head straight in the air like a giraffe. So I had kind of just come to terms with the fact that this was going to be a very terrible test.
But then, something clicked in his brain and he just settled down. I took a deep breath and put my shoulders back, and just tried to ride him really quietly. He was absolutely awesome for our test!
He did whinny once in the beginning, but that wasn't a huge deal, and our free walk wasn't too stellar, but he didn't trot so that's great too. Our judge, however, was a flat out idiot.
For starters, my ring had a whistle as the signal to go in. As I was coming around the corner towards A, I head a noise, which may have been a whistle, but also could have very easily been something else. I looked to the judge who wasn't even looking, so I decided I'd better not go in in case it wasn't the whistle. So I trotted down and asked very politely if that was indeed the whistle and I got a very snooty "Yes, it was!" back. Oh great. Sorry lady, not my fault that I didn't want to be eliminated, she should have been happy that I double checked.
So I check my scores after my wonderful, amazing test and see that we had a 43.5 and we were sitting in 10th place out of 13. To be perfectly honest, I was shocked. I really, truly expected a score in the upper thirties (37-39). I assumed that she had to have given me an error for the whistle thing, because there was no way that test was a 43. It wasn't a 41 either, but that would've at least beeen a little better.
Of course, I get my test back later, and it seems she took the whistle thing out on every.single.mark considering my test sheet was covered with 5s and comments next to them that made zero sense. No error. Normally, even if a test goes badly, I hardly blame the judge. Even if I think I deserved a better score, I can mostly see why the judges gave me the scores they did by looking at the comments. But not this one. I had a perfect canter transition saying that it was a 5 and he was braced and running. Um, no, he was perfectly balanced, bent, and round, what are you even talking about? There is no way we deserved that score, which means the only possible explanation is that she was taking the whole whistle debacle out on us through our test.
No the test was not a 25 scoring test, but not one of those movements should have earned a 5, except maybe the free walk, which she actually gave us a 6 on. I only had 5s and 6s in the entire test. Really? It most definitely should have broke 40. See for youself:
So while I was quite furious with the whole situation, I was incredibly proud of my horse who started off like a maniac, and calmed down enough to put in one of his best tests. And no kicking out in the canter transitions! WooHoo!
So on to stadium! He warmed up great, was jumping really well. Went in to put in a lovely double clear. Okay, so maybe 'lovely' isn't the word. He was wicked strong, and I buried the poor thing into some fences, and he charged down some of the lines, but he still did well! Part of me thinks I need a bigger bit, because quite honestly he is just blowing me off like I'm not even there, but I also know my horse, and he would hate me forever if I put anything besides a snaffle in his mouth. The stadium judge called us over after our round and 'suggested' that we try to go slower cross country as our time was 1:05 and most had been jumping the course in 1:25. Oops. Sorry, my horse thinks he's a jumper.
Here's our round:
So cross country was immediately after stadium and he was WAY too hyped up, I couldn't get him to stand at all. We were leaping and bucking and launching ourselves around the start box. Then we came charging out of the startbox with some more leaping and bucking, and then we got out on course.
He was good to one, quite wiggly to two (but a lot of horses were, it was a new fence for this course), jumped three fine, wiggled our way stickily through four and five, a little downhill combination, and then we finally got things straightened out (literally and figuratively ;-) ) for fence six. Once he stopped wiggling I relaxed and said "Okay, we're home free now that you've stopped wiggling. We should be clear the rest of the way!"
Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. When are you going to learn that every single time you say that, something bad happens directly after? Similar to ENYDCTA when we jumped the third to last and were having the first clear round in our division until I stopped riding to the scary rolltop and got a face full of horse neck. Well, this time we came up to a small fence with a downhill landing, that was then three strides to a little natural water crossing. Well, Ben thought for sure that he would be landing IN the water if he jumped that jump and so because I stopped riding he quit on me.
So we reapproached, and he did it again. Deep breath, REALLY ride it, smack on the way in. He feels like he's going this time, but SLAMS on the brakes at the last second, getting his feet up in the fence a bit, then panics and spins out from underneath me. We can't just have a normal three stops, you're out elimination you know. Nope, my horse has to dump me and go careening around the cross country course. Sigh. Well, on the bright side, I was wearing my air vest and man that thing is like landing on a pillow, I didn't feel a thing.
Even with our crappy dressage score, we would've placed 6th if we had finished clean. It truly was a legitimate question on Ben's part because, I realized with his lack of depth perception, he really thought he was going to land in the water. And this was in the woods, where it was dark, and the water was dark. The fence wasn't the problem, and the water wouldn't have been the problem if it was by itself or farther back, but the combination together didn't sit well with him, and I wasn't there to tell him yes. It also didn't help that he was SO hyped up because I think he had so much adrenaline, that at the slightest hint of something spooky (the water) he just reacted without trying to read the question. Because I know a lot of horses there who jumped that jump without an issue, so it wasn't the fence, it was him.
Here's the first half of cross country:
So, hopefully that was just a silly little fluke. Because he was perfect at King Oak. So things are still on for Frazier this Sunday, where we're moving back up to Novice. They have no ditches or water, and all the fences are straigtforward and mostly inviting, so hopefully we won't have any issues.
Later on this month, we're going cross country schooling at King Oak so I can jump every single ditch on the property, including the one he dumped me at in the fall. I also want to try dropping into water, so that he can see that even if he was going to land in the water, it really isn't all that bad!
The even sadder part of the whole weekend? If I was in the Novice division, which he probably would've gone clean around since he's jumped clean around that track twice now, we would've place at the very least 4th. And my horse actually jumps the Novice water. Silly horse.
Oh well, hopefully we can redeem ourselves this weekend. Thanks for reading!