I finally think I’m somewhat caught up on sleep…maybe. It was a very long weekend, with 8 horses competing and all 3 of us (myself, H and C) were riding. We set up the barn on Friday and got everyone ridden, and then the humidity started setting in, happy to hang around until we left on Sunday. The Horse Park is a fabulous venue, truly one of the nicest venues and stabling areas available to us. We got to bed at a semi-reasonable hour that night after giving baths and doing some magnetic therapy on a few of the horses.
The next morning came quite early (3:40 a.m) as we had 8 horses to bathe and braid, 2to lunge, 8 stalls to clean and 16 water buckets to empty and fill by 7:00 a.m. We did it, by the grace of God and a very determined attitude. Everyone had a beautiful dressage test…we were all very excited about where our horses were in the standings at that point! It was my turn after lunch…Pop warmed up really, really nicely. I didn’t do a long warm-up because it was very, very hot at this point and the last thing I wanted was for him to run out of energy before we did our test. Well…it happened anyway. But the test itself was better than last week. My goals for this phase were:
1. Improve my score by 2 points. This would mean scoring around a 34.
2. Improve the comments on my geometry…make circles the correct size, be more
accurate about doing movements on the letters.
3. Keep Pop forward and through during the entire test.
4. Keep Pop’s hindquarters straight in the right lead canter.
5. Improve the halt.
Well, here’s how it went:
1. We scored a 30, which I was thrilled about.
2. My circles were definitely closer to 20 meters than last week and I tried to be more accurate with the letters. I did still have a problem with the turn from B to E to the track, mostly because Pop wasn’t through or going forward (see below!)
3. Pop went down center line beautifully and crapped out as we turned right at
C. I didn’t prepare him enough for the turn or have him bent properly for the turn and as a result he lost his impulsion, his roundness and a few points. This happened again at B, and E..I never truly got him forward and through again, but we did have a few more good moments throughout.
4. One of the comments was “hindquarters right” for the right lead canter, so I definitely didn’t do my job here. I think by this point I was so happy he picked up the canter from the slovenly trot that I didn’t even worry about straightness. MUST BE MORE PROACTIVE.
5. He still had a hind leg too far back in the halt but his legs weren’t crossed this time!
Overall, my feeling was disappointed in myself for not riding him more aggressively and more proactively, but at the end of the day we did make some good improvements from last week and have some more homework to do. He was a good boy and we’ll only get better from here.
Cross-country was much later. I was pumped! I walked the course twice and was especially concerned about 6-7-8; fence 6 was simple but then you had to make a right hand turn 180 degrees to a ditch and then 4 strides to 8. I was worried about
the right hand turn and keeping him forward to the ditch. Goals:
1. Ride up to my distances.
2. Get Pop to turn better than last time. We had a lot of issues with landing on the left lead with a right hand turn coming up.
3. Establish a rhythm earlier in the course.
4. Come in closer to the optimum time.
Here’s how it went!
1. I rode up to no distances. Haha. We took a LOT of flyers because I saw a long one and didn’t have the pace to make it. Poor Pop. He was so good and willing…fence 5 was a wide table and he took off WAY too far away and still cleared it. I rode backwards through related distances…for example, the water was supposed to be a one stride and I did it in 3. I was long on the bank to the coop, also.
2. We for the most part had better turns. We turned well to the ditch, but we almost had a runout at fence 4 because he was flying through the turn without actually turning. Thank God he has a big heart and jumped it anyway but it was close.
3. I don’t think we ever found our rhythm this time. He was wanting to go, go, go and I would let him go and then start freaking out in front of the fence. Luckily for me he’s game and careful.
4. We definitely failed on this one! We had the fastest time on our division by a LOT. Woops!
Nevertheless, we were clean and he jumped confidently. What a rush! Very proud of him and happy the BF was there to watch and cheer us on. He cooled down easily and got poultice and wraps for the night as well as hoof packing. We were sitting in 5th.
Sunday morning dawned chilly but it was soon to warm up a good deal and become BLAZING hot. We again had an early and busy morning with 6 horses show jumping before I rode. All of our boys were very good. Ardy ended up 7th in his second Prelim and Val was 2nd in my division. Pop and I jumped a couple of fences and headed in. To be honest, I walked him into the ring and a sense of calm came over me and I rode the course like the most confident person ever. He was AMAZING. I didn’t worry about distances, I just kept him moving forward and he jumped every fence so beautifully. We had a clean round and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. What a GOOD BOY. We finished up with a beautiful white 4th place ribbon! I’m so proud of myself and of him. GOALS MET for stadium…which was to get around with rhythm and balance.
So what’s next for the Pop Star? We’re looking to run Novice at the October Starter HT at the Horse Park the first Sunday in October. I’m excited about returning to that course and hopefully owning it this time!
Pop will return to work tomorrow weather permitting, and we have a lot of flatwork to do before the Starter HT. I want to really have the Novice tests down pat by then so it’s almost a formality. I also want to do more fitness work with him before then so I feel like I can ask him for more and he’s capable of giving it. I also need to work on getting a show coat before then!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more news on Mazzie (who is doing great!) and the rest of the horses in the barn!