I just want to first apologize for not blogging right after Chatt Hills when everything was still fresh in my mind! We were so exhausted and when we got home the last thing I wanted to do was blog. I'm finally feeling refreshed again and decided to just check in.
Pop was, no pun intended, a complete STAR at Chatt. We scored a 28 on our dressage test, despite my brain fart in the second canter transition and a very fresh little red horse when we first entered the arena. Something about the cool air and cross country running behind us definitely got him excited and I hadn't seen that side of him before on the flat (haha) so I took my leg off. Wrong thing to do, it turns out, but the test was okay anyway. I'm very lucky in that Poppers looks so elegant and pretty so even if everything isn't 100% correct he still LOOKS so darn nice ;) I know, I know, a pretty picture can only go so far, but we did improve on our trot work from Five Points, and we got a 9 on our halt (YES!). Stadium was relatively close to our test so Lizzie warmed us up (and did a SUPER job) and in we went. Poppers had no interest in the flapping flags that had spooked the previous horses, and he was all business. I thought the course was a lot smoother than our previous courses as far as making good turns and getting leads, but I could have ridden him much more forward than I did, which made for some ugly chips. We hit our rhythm about halfway through and I thought we finished up really well. Three time penalties so we were in 2nd at this point.
Cross country day was beautiful, albeit COLD. He warmed up PERFECTLY, very "on" and raring to get going. So was I. The course walked well and it had a lot of little questions that were in midget form to test us a little bit. He pranced into the start box and took off like a bullet. Thank goodness I had borrowed a watch from Andrew minutes before mounting! From the first fence on, he was so perfect and dead on. We didn't have a single moment where I didn't feel like we were on the same page. I can't even explain the feeling it gave me, but I couldn't stop smiling for a long, long time. He's just a little machine. I've never had more fun in my life.
Scores came in...and based on TIME alone, I snuck out the win. YAY POP! Everyone was so kind in congratulating me (when really, Poppers did all the work). It was so exciting and I feel so confident after the weekend. He was just amazing. After talking with Charlie we've decided to tentivily move ourselves up to Training. We are shooting for a Training CT at the Horse Park in a couple of weeks and we'll go from there. I'm really excited about it! I feel like my trust in him has really built and I can't wait to go again!
We've been working hard on our flatwork since we've been home, and he's been really good. I'm working on not letting my shoulders creep forward, which weighs down his frontend. Today I could really feel the difference and that was encouraging. We're also doing a lot more work in shoulder-in to straighten him tracking right. I am really focusing on not twisting my shoulders and just keeping the angle correct and not losing our forward.
Champ has hit the terrible 2's...which isn't really that terrible, since he's such a good boy, but we've been doing a LOT of roundpen work to refocus his brain on me. For example, the other day he decided he didn't want to be dewormed. He reared, spun away from me and pinned me in the corner. 15 minutes later, I dewormed him in the roundpen without even touching him. Good pony. We've also laid down a PVC pipe in the roundpen for him to trot and canter over, to give him something to hold his attention and also to make him aware of his feet. He LOVES it and will go back and forth over it even when I'm not in the roundpen. So precious. Am planning on getting him back on the trail either tomorrow or Friday...it's been hard with the early sunset, but hopefully we'll figure something out!
I love this time of year! It may be chilly in the morning but by noon we're all in t-shirts and the horses are nakey! If only it would stay this way!
Pictures from Chatt Hills!