Yesterday was really fun. I think I am starting to get the hang of this.
I took one of the girls from the barn, Rachel, and we went to the Lincoln Creek Eventer’s Dream Combined Test. It was called “Eventer’s Dream” because it was all jumping and no Dressage. Now, I usually like the Dressage phase, I think it is a nice way to slide in to the competition mindset with less pressure – I never worry about falls or stops in Dressage.
Kip is also rock solid in stadium, so that is nearly as low-pressure for me, I know he’s going over, especially if I have him moving along at a nice clip, which he likes to do.
We had been to Lincoln Creek before, so he settled very quickly and saw the other horses jumping, and knew the score. We warmed up and waited patiently for our turn.
Well, except for everything was running about a half an hour late, and everyone was freaking out about their Cross country times, which were rapidly approaching. The poor gate lady kept assuring rider after rider who came up to her that the Start box knew we were late, and you would not miss your XC ride. Some people also had paid for schooling rounds to be ridden after the Division was over. They were being told to do their XC, then come back — the Division would easily still be running; that wasn’t good enough for one lady on a fancy horse with three emaciated Barn Ladies in tow who “just needed to slip in between some other riders”. I saw her other round, and her horse was flipping out the entire time — balking, little rears, running out, basically being a sour brat, and I knew she’d be in there for ten minutes, knocking rails and generally creating havoc. It was a schooling show, and dealing with this kind of behavior in a low-pressure situation is what they are for. So – the gate keeper finally gave in and let her “sneak in” her schooling round, right before my round. Great. Sure enough she took seven minutes to get around (should take two) and demolished the course, which required resetting. SO, I guess I did not wait so patiently….
So it was finally our turn, and I got Kip into a good forward canter, and we sailed around – Jump one, a vertical a little bit down hill, so I had him in a short, bouncy canter. Sweeping left bend to two – a flower box. Stay on left lead, rollback to a vertical (this one had taken some folks out, so I made sure not to lose impulsion in the turn); land on right lead to number four. Five and six were vertical to an oxer, right lead to six (land in left lead) and a bending line to seven. Eight and nine were a four-stride combination, and ten a vertical; fence eleven, a max oxer. Easy.
I am so pleased at how fun Kip is in stadium. don’t get me wrong I still really need to ride, he’ll stall and chip if I don’t have my leg on, or if I am not strong in that right rein, guarding against that right run out. But it is like he telegraphs what it is he needs going in to each fence, and I am finally getting smart enough to hear him. He really wants to go, and needs a good ride from me to do it.
Next it is time for Cross-Country. This is the same venue with the bridge over the creek, with no guardrails at all, so it is just a naked bridge that is like 15 feet over a deep-looking creek. Kip did hesitate just a bit, but really, he just marched right over it. It is amazing – the things that I would think are scary, like this bridge – No Problem! but a pile of cut grass in a field? TERRIFYING!! but I will get to that in a minute.
In the start box, 3…2…1, Have a great ride! (the traditional countdown of the Start box judge) and we are off.
I will spare you the fence-by-fence commentary and just hit the highlights – We did two cross country runs, one for the CT and one for Schooling. One two and three, all fine — nice, forward gallops. Upon landing after three, off to our right is a pile of cut hay (this event is in a cut hay field, as most events are around here) and this is just a pile of cut grass–i.e. HAY for dog’s sake– But OMG TERRIFYING! LEAP TO THE LEFT AUGH! Once Kip gets it in his mind things are spooky, he then starts looking around for spooky things. So at this point in the course I decide to really kick on, because I know if I keep his feet moving that is 90% of the battle. I am squashing him with my legs for all I am worth. Fast forward to jump seven, which is just an inviting little log, which he jumped quite happily and with zero drama last time (see post !!!!!!!!!!!!!! for that re-cap) but this time the bales of straw in the field marking the galloping lane were Not-To-Be-Trusted-Red-Horse-Eating-Trolls, and he was generally losing his shit. So I backed him way down to a trot, and near the end of the lane to a walk. It worked and he relaxed and gave me a sigh, so I kicked him back up into a canter. (for our second ride he still did not like this lane, but we did gallop it). The next obstacles were no problem, but we did need to trot the water the first time through – and galloped quite nicely the second time. We trotted obstacle twelve, -the weird giant hill- the first time, and galloped the second. You are sensing a theme, aren’t you, clever reader? The final jump was a big, hairy-looking thing, with straw sticking out of it all over – but this straw is not the horse-eating type, so we sailed over and through the flags.
I do have to go back and describe one obstacle on our schooling round of XC: the Novice Ditch. The whole reason I took a schooling round is because the BN course at Lincoln Creek does not have a ditch, and the ditch is what did us in at the WSHP, causing us to have to leave the course. I didn’t write about that, but I was robbed. I should have been able to school that ditch and continue my ride, but the JJ make us retire. Don’t even get me started, that is a whole ‘nother story. Grr. Anyway. In our schooling round, I wanted to take Kip over the jumps we had just done, safe and easy, and then take this new obstacle, the ditch. Anne and I had schooled our ditches at home and she gave me some good strategies on how to ride it, so I was ready. The ditch was obstacle five — so I galloped fence four nice and strong, and started for the ditch which was at the end of a long-ish gallop; Anne stressed I needed to trot the ditch, so I brought him to a forward trot and he saw the ditch –head goes up, he starts to suck back and I have my leg on, like there is no tomorrow. He tries to wheel to the right, I have my reins in my left hand and give him a tremendous smack behind my right leg. He deer-leaps off to the right, taking out the flag and the fence number, crashing right through them, and we land (ironically?) in a ditch. I am telling him No, absolutely NOT- at a pretty high volume, and haul him around out of the ditch, and present him to the Novice ditch again, another smack behind the leg, and Boing! over we go! That was not so hard!! I give him the Good Boy! scritches on the shoulder, telling him he is the best horse ever! and we gallop off. Our second ride was so much fun. Good gallops, nice efforts and less spooking (but come on, those Straw Trolls were still out there and HUNGRY.)
Going twice on Cross-Country is, not surprisingly, twice as much fun as going once. We got 51 time penalties for XC and so were not in the ribbons, but I couldn’t care less. I rode just how I planned on riding, and amended that plan when I needed to, to give and get the best ride I could for that day. That is what it is all about.
I have bought the video of our XC ride, so that will be coming soon. Yay!