Well, I think its about time I gave you all an update!
Today Ben and I ventured off to the very first outing of the season: a combined test at Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, Massachusetts. We competed in the Training division, and then we went cross country schooling afterwards. Ben was an absolute star and I could not be more proud of him!
We took Ben's girlfriend Lilly with us today, as she was competing in the Novice division. Ben was perfectly calm and wonderful until he got into the warm-up, remembered that his girlfriend had come with him today, and then began frantically searching for her. Our warm-up was a crazy mix of calling and leaping in the air. Not the best way to start off! To give Ben the benefit of the doubt (hehe....) we had the very first ride time at 8am and it was about 33 degrees. So I kind of just accepted the fact that this wasn't going to be the day we won the dressage.
He actually pleasantly surprised me by going in the ring and performing quite a decent test for the first of the year. No calling, no leaping, no bucking. Our trot lengthenings were more or less non-existent because I wasn't about to push for anything, I was just happy he was being quiet! Our trot circles were pretty good and we got 7s on both of them. Our stretch down circle was not the best he can do, he pretty much puts his nose on the ground at home, but he did okay considering how wound up he was prior to the test. Both of his trot-canter transitions were excellent and both garnered 7s. We got knocked for our canter circles because I made them a bit too big, so we got 6s on those. Our canter lengthening was actually probably the best he's ever done at home or in a test and he actually came back to me which is always a miracle with Ben! He was a bit on the forehand so we only got a 6 but I was happy with the progress he seems to be making. We royally screwed up the canter the diagonal, trot at X movement because he broke gait but that was pretty much the only blatant error in the test. We ended with an even 40.0 which I was actually pretty pleased with considering the way he had been acting in warm-up. This put us in fifth place (out of 5 ;-) ) but the other scores were all within a few points of each other.
Here's our test:
Stadium was a lot of fun and he was jumping fantastically. We only jumped 4 jumps in warm-up and nailed all of our distances. He had an excellent round except for one silly rail at fence number 3 which a lot of people were taking down all day long. We got a little too close and he just couldn't get his legs out of the way in time. He also got a little too close to the in on the one stride at 4A to do it in one, so we just added a little extra stride and it all worked out just fine. I was very proud of him although the rail ensured that we stayed in 5th instead of moving up to 4th like we would have with a clean round. I was not terribly concerned about the placings however because I was incredibly thrilled with his performances and we got a pretty pink ribbon to boot!
Here's our stadium round:
Then we moved on to the really fun part: cross country schooling! The course was more or less set the same way as it was at our failed attempt to move up to Training last fall which was great because I got to jump most of the stuff that A.) had scared me back then and B.) which had looked like a lot of fun. The ditches were completely anti-climactic because he jumped them all without batting an eyelid. He did both the Novice and Training half-coffins, the Training skinny, the huge, terrifying maxed out Training table, the fun angled line, the Training level open oxer, and a bunch of other stuff. He was so fantastic, bold, confident, and forward. It was a great feeling to have my horse back!
Here's the xc schooling video:
We're off to another combined test at Mystic Valley Hunt Club this Saturday, also in the Training division. Then later this month we're going to try to school a bit more xc before heading into May where there are all sorts of exciting things: the first two events of the season and the Boyd Martin clinic at Fitch's Corner!
I promise now that things are in full swing I will be updating a lot more frequently!