Well, isn’t that an uninspired yet descriptive title.
Spring Fling was very much in the success column, even with the lack of ribbons.
We loaded up and hauled in with no problems. The thing I was most nervous about, finding a pull-through parking spot, was not a problem. I found a spot in the first field, right next to the portable stalls. I unloaded Himself, and set out to find the dressage arenas and to look at the course.
I got there in plenty of time, so after scouting things out I sat in the truck and ate junk food while watching it pour. Did I mention there were intermittent downpours?
It was raining lightly when we went up to the Dressage warmup, and Kip was being a ass, and spooking at sticks along the trail. I wanted a good, long warmup and it was a challenge, but got him a little bit relaxed. He took every opportunity to sling his head in the air and gawp at things — other horses, the wooden dock along the arena, the judge’s Easy-up — all excuses to tense, counter-bend, brace and all his other favorite things, as we made our way around the warm up. I have a challenge of keeping his attention without picking at him while doing dressage. But he is just so distracted by every little thing–I have to figure out how to keep him focused with out nagging him. Because that just makes him turn off and quit listening all together.
It was raining pretty hard when we went in for our test, and since Kip hadn’t see any of that end of the arena, there was plenty to distract him from the task at hand. Also, the footing was really heavy and he was behind my leg for the entire first half of the test. I finally got my wits about me and just booted him up into the contact for the second half, and our scores reflect this – the second half of the test is is 6’s and 7’s with an 8 thrown in for good measure – as opposed to the first half of 5’s and 6’s. The free walk kills me – The second I ask him to stretch down, he does at first, but the very first thing that catches his eye, Zoom! up goes his head. *sigh*.
We totally caught a break in the weather for our Jumping rounds, with no rain. The footing in the jumping arena was draining better, too; so was not nearly as heavy as in the dressage arena. Our first go was a Ride and Review.
We did great, focus is not the issue here! — First, a small BN log, then left to maxed out brush jump. I really stepped on the gas to this one, because it was huge and funny-looking. I knew if I didn’t run like hell to it, we were not going over. Kip sucked back a bit, but I gave him a smack on the shoulder (with my new bat, which I love). That focused him, and he sailed over it. Bend right to Novice logs, and a right turn to an airy vertical, left to more N logs, and jump six was a covered bridge-thing, with holes near the ground line, which looked weird and scary — Leg on and look up. Kip jumped it fine and then back to the right for another solid log pile, and on to a max oxer, two stride combo- we stalled a bit at the oxer so I put my leg on for the out and we made it okay. Right to an up bank, much easier than I anticipated, and I brought him to a trot for the down, so he could see it. Slight hesitation but down we went, and jump eleven was another solid log pile.
I felt it was a good, solid round. I spoke to Johnathan for my review, and he said we were a little quick, but that he was really rolling, and maybe his most comfortable canter is a bit on the fast side. He commented on how fast we were going to the second fence, and I told him my run like hell strategy, he laughed, and said that that worked, Kip did seem to be wanting to suck back, but after that he was nice and bold to the fences. He did tell me to “ask and allow” more — to put my leg on for a stride or two, then allow Kip to answer. I do tend to put my leg on and keep it there. So, he asked me to do the 1 & 2 again, with the ask & allow — of course Kip’s seen this hairy jump now, so I was able to give him a much more polite ride.
For our Derby round, I got complacent to the four, I let him get flat, and we pulled a rail! Totally my fault – I did not ride to that stupid fence, and we left long. I felt bad for letting Kip down. He really jumped the remainder of the course, though; he was not gonna touch another rail after that. (Even now, I just put my head in my hands over the memory of this. Such a stupid mistake. I am sorry Kip!) This was our first rail in competition.
Since we had a rail, and such a tense dressage test, I knew there was not a chance of ribbons for us. I waited around to pick up my dressage test, which was released around 4:30-ish. I got a 39.1. Very fair and deserved, but so disappointing. When I got home, I pulled out all my Novice dressage tests, and I have not improved my score in two years. In fact, this score was my second-to-worst score on this test.
I need to simultaneously work on my dressage, and relax about it – because it is my trying so hard that is resulting in these bad scores – I am feeding Kip’s anxiousness with my own.
Overall, we finished 15th in a field of 33. Not bad, but I can’t help but wonder where we would have placed, had I not gotten that rail. (Or could actually ride the Dressage. humph.)
Next up: Dressage Rally. Hoo, boy.