I typed this up last night on my phone and it was eaten, so here's the best I can come up with now that I'm drained and filthy and in desperate need of sleep. Bear with me!
Let's start by saying that after Friday night, I honestly thought our chances of having a good weekend were long gone. It'll take an entire post to tell you of that night, but let's just say it involved four phone calls at once, two GPS's full of lies, the ghetto, and no AC for an entire night. Nevertheless, we made it through. I flatted Pop lightly that afternoon and despite the chaos of the arena (one mare spinning and bolting every time we passed her, among other things) he was focused and very well behaved. He was really nice and forward and soft at first, but then we took a walk break and when we went back to work he was super poky. Silly pony. We did a little more work and then headed back to the barn (and the Hell that awaited us.)
Saturday...started bright and early as we had our first test at 8 a.m. Devon was a little wound up but still scored quite well in the Prelim. Ardy had a good test for his first Prelim and Ben was also very good in his first Prelim w H. Monkee was excellent and got a 32 in his Intermediate test, which we were very happy about! Guppy, as usual, had a beautiful test in Training...then it was Popopop's turn. I had been nervous but the second I got on his back I was okay. He felt so relaxed and chill that I relaxed, too. We had a good warm-up and then it was Show Time. We said a friendly hello to our judge and went right in.
Enter A working trot. We got a 6, it was very straight and lovely until we had to track right at C. The comment says "lost balance at C" and I would definitely agree with that. I don't know if I just let him get behind my leg or what but he turned and we lost all impulsion and balance. Luckily we got it back quickly but then had to turn right at B and left at E...I felt like he was fairly straight to E and then maybe fell in a bit tracking left (he's naturally bent to the right) but we got a 7 and "softer across topline". Next was a 20-meter circle at A, we got a 6 (circle too small)...I knew the circle wasn't right. I had forgotten the size of the small arena really makes things feel distorted! I have to review my geometry before Five Points, for sure. Next was a canter depart between A and F (7, "tight") and then another 20 meter at B (6, first half of circle too small...again!)...then a trot transition between B and M (6, braced). My elbows and wrists get a bit rigid in the left lead canter and I'm sure that's why he braced there. E, turn left and B, turn right, we got a 6 (tight at E, needs closer to B). I totally agree and I knew I cut the turn to B, I didn't feel like I had him in front of my leg and I was worried about getting to B and losing his trot entirely, so I cut the corner (bad!). Another 20 meter circle at A, 7 (needs softer topline and larger circle...AGAIN!!!). Then an *8* on our canter depart (YAY!!!!). Canter circle at E, 6 (1st part circle small (sound familar?) lazy canter (agreed). 7 on downward transition (better preparation needed). 5 on our walk transition (you had it...something illegible. I did get a bit of a jig so maybe that's what she was referring to? It was a perfect transition but then I had too much leg!). A very disappointing 5 on our free walk :( I thought it was a really good free walk and the comment is illegible, so I can't even figure out why we scored that 5. I will had more stretch and more forward next time, though. 7 on our trot down centerline and 5 on our halt (apparently his hind legs were crossed. I must confess I had never halted him from a trot, so I was just proud it was fairly straight!). Our additional comments were "Lovely horse, continue to work on consistency in movements and gaits. Good luck." Not too bad for our first test together! We got a 36.5 which put us in a tie for 8th place. I was so proud of his effort and proud of myself, too...next time we'll be a bit better prepared for the size of the arena and how fast the movements come up!
Back to the barn for a rest before our stadium round. I had walked the course once and it looked good except for one bending line that was a 6 stride. I was just a little concerned about him drifting left and missing the turn. He warmed up PERFECTLY...very forward to the base of the fence. He felt like a totally different horse from home...focused and forward and confident. We headed in after a short warm-up. Really got him going in the canter and we were off! The first fence rode beautifully, we got a good distance and landed on the left lead...the 2nd fence was a sharp right hand turn, so I attempted a lead change...it didn't happen. Crap. So I abandoned that idea and just went for the turn on the counter canter. Luckily, he's about as handy as they come and we jumped it well. 3 was an oxer and he jumped that SUPER, then to 4 (a vertical that started the bending line). I was convinced he would leave long to 5...so I jumped...he literally stutter-stepped off the ground. GOOD BOY. He should've stopped...DEFINITELY my fault. I had lost my canter and forgotten to move him up to the distance so when we got there he was prepared to add. Thank God he's forgiving, I landed on the buckle and just pushed him on to the next fence in the bending line, which he chipped but he jumped it well. I landed and patted him and yelled "MY fault!!!" He jumped 7 and 8 flawlessly, back in a rhythm, and I had all the confidence in the world over 9 and then 10A and B, a two-stride...never jumped a combination on him but he was right on the money and got a HUGE pat and a "GOOD GOOD MAN!!!!!" as we crossed through the finish flags. Clean. WHAT a fun ride! I couldn't stop patting him on the way home! All my butterflies were gone and I couldn't believe how much fun it was. We headed home for a bath, wraps and foot packing for the night. Tied for 7th at this point.
(Everyone else show jumped beautifully...Benny had to be scratched bc of feet issues...the ground was ROCK hard and not good for him at all and with him running this weekend too at Five Points, H wanted to save him. Good decision!)
Stay tuned for the rundown from cross-country day :)