Well. Things have changed quite a bit since I last wrote to say the least!
Nothing terrible has happened, but Stoneleigh didn't quite go as planned. Dressage was okay, but he was very hyped up so the canter was quite quick and we ended up scoring a 41. Not as bad as it could be, but certainly far from the best test he's ever put in.
The courses looked fun and doable. Stadium has never been an issue and we have quite a few Training combined tests under our belt, so I know he's very capable. Cross country had a lot to do but I wasn't terribly worried. Maybe a little weary of the HUGE ditch at 9 and the drop into murky water at 15, but I was in the right mindset to get out there and tackle it.
Unfortunately for me, things got very eventful as I was getting ready for stadium. The wind was picking up, it was starting to rain a bit, and there were horses running cross country right near our trailer so Ben was pretty hyped. As I went to get on him to head to warm up, he spooked, got loose, and took off. Great. There is a lot of pavement at Stoneleigh and he was slipping around on it as he evaded capture. He was probably only loose for about two minutes but it felt like a lot longer as I watched him skid around.
He seemed alright so I hopped on to warm up for stadium only to find that he was slightly off and just not quite right. Ugh, horses. So of course I was not about to jump him and I was especially not about to take him cross country so we scratched. I was pretty bummed. We have not had a lot of runs this season and we haven't had ANY Training level xc runs this season due to a variety of bizarre circumstances.
For some reason I feel like we've failed this season and I don't really know why. I didn't fall off, we didn't have a bunch of rails, we didn't get eliminated, and our most recent xc run at the Lyme Horse Trials was great. I suppose just the feeling of going to an event and not completing, no matter the reason, makes me feel as if we are incapable even though that makes no sense.
Regardless, I have made the decision to drop all the way back to Beginner Novice for the last two events of the season, strictly because I want to minimize the risk of not completing and I want the two of us to have fun. Again, the reason we didn't complete had nothing to do with the level. He could've spooked and took off at any level. Same goes for when I had to scratch after dressage at Riga Meadow because I didn't feel good, it had nothing to do with the level, although maybe I would have run anyway if it was Novice or Beginner Novice.
I just feel like after not having too many runs this season, I want to finish on a strong note over courses that I KNOW we will tackle with ease. It will also be nice to really work on the quality of his dressage because the Beginner Novice tests are so straightforward. It will give me a chance to work on making stadium even smoother, because I don't need to worry about the height of the fences. It will give me a chance to give Ben some learning experiences if he decides to be silly on xc because I can stuff him over the small Beginner Novice fences if need be.
I'm very much looking forward to going out and having a blast. If we end this season with confidence it will make the trek back up to Training next season much easier. I want to make sure we have a solid foundation and dropping to Beginner Novice is almost like having the inspector out to make sure the foundation doesn't have any cracks.
We were very capable of going Training this season, there's no way I would have attempted a move up if we weren't. But it will be nice to sit on a horse that I feel confident will go double clean next season, instead of the horse this season where it could have gone any way.
So we've got Kent next weekend on the 6th and Course Brook on the 12th, both at Beginner Novice. Then I think we're going to head to a local jumper show and hopefully jump around some of the 3'6" classes. I haven't done the jumpers in almost a year and I miss it!
My plan for the winter is to really work on our dressage. I would like to master the counter canter as he really struggles with that. I'd also like to perfect our leg yields a little more so the rhythm is more consistent and they're a little straighter. I'd like to work more on haunches-in. And we'll really be working on the general quality of his canter, especially to the left.
I also plan to keep showing in the jumpers at Westbrook this winter as its always good to keep him out and about during the winter so the first show of the eventing season in the spring doesn't turn into a rodeo. I'm hoping in the spring we can do a lot of xc schooling and start out at Novice before giving Training level a shot, yet again! I think we're on the right track and I feel like I'm doing what is right for both of us.
So here's to the yellow numbers and having fun no matter what the level, because eventing is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. As always, thanks for reading!