The Horse Trial That Almost Was
|My Alma Mater has a jump at BCHP now!|
I arrived at the horse park on Friday not quite knowing what to expect from the weather. The forecast was calling for chances of thunderstorms, but when I got there the skies were blue and it was getting HOT.
Add in just ONE small, insanely crowded warm-up ring for both jumping and dressage, and Dino was one seriously cranky pony. After a few minutes of trying to ride his very angry self in the arena I gave up and finished my warm-up in the grassy area next to the dressage ring. Dino was suddenly MUCH more relaxed and happy to do his job, but it was HOT, I had already gotten up super early that day and driven 3+ hours round trip to show a farm, and my mental state was leaning more towards "So Hot So Tired I Don't Wanna" than "Game Face On." I got Dino moving well over his whole back and lifting his withers, and then gave him a long break before our test. We were both already drenched with sweat, and I wanted to conserve what little energy he had.
|sorry/notsorry I only have blurry screen caps from stadium|
Unfortunately, my lackluster attitude carried over to the dressage court and we had a very mediocre test. Dino was sucked behind the leg & the bridle throughout most of it, and I had to kick him into the canter in both directions. Our circles weren't very accurate, and the whole test was just BLAH. We received a 32.6, which a year ago would have thrilled me, but that day I found it very disappointing. I knew that we were capable of vastly better work, and I was annoyed with myself that I hadn't tried harder to get it.
Because it was so hot and Dino felt so sticky, I opted not to switch to the slow twist for the jumping phases and instead kept my pony in our standard French Link. I didn't want to give him any more excuses for not going forward!
The warm up ring for stadium was once again a three-ring circus, but this time I had no choice except to dodge the fifty thousand other riders crammed into the tiny ring and try and get the "Go Forward" and "Jump" buttons installed. Dino, bless his soul, put on an angry pony face the entire time, but he did jump every single fence without question. He felt a little long and weak, and I knew I'd have to ride strongly to the first fence of the stadium course to get my point across. I mentally accepted that I might have to awkwardly trot him over the first jump if necessary.
Color me surprised when Dino stepped into the stadium ring and was all business! In the video, you can see him with his Angry Face on until we get a few strides away from Fence 1, and then his ears come up and homeboy is rockin' and rollin'! The round was much more about managing his canter than pushing him forward, which caught me off guard a little and led to a few chippy distances, but overall I was super pleased with the course. Dino was forward and happy, gave me a snappy little lead change between 3 and 4, and just trucked around and jumped the jumps. I was happy to finish with a clear round!
Despite the thunder now rumbling softly in the distance and the rain starting to drizzle down, I felt good about cross country. I had planned to take both "Graduate" options on course - the ditch and the small water crossing. It would be a good test for Fair Hill the week after, which has both elements on its Intro course. It had been a long time since Dino and I had encountered either of those obstacles on course vs. schooling them individually, and BCHP was a great place to test out how we'd handle it.
To my disappointment, as I neared the start box a huge bolt of lightning cracked across the sky, and the show announcer told everyone to dismount and load their horses on their trailers for a 20 minute hold to let the storm blow over. Annoyed, but still committed to finishing my last phase, I marched Dino back to the trailer and sat out the next several minutes of driving rain, lightning, and thunder. But as with all summer storms, it seemed to be over and done with quickly.
Once the storm began to dissipate and it was announced that the competition would resume, I got back on and trotted back towards the start box. I got to the EXACT SAME SPOT I had gotten to last time, determined to run the course no matter what, and another bolt of lightning flashed across the dark clouds, followed by a loud clap of thunder. Another announcement was made that the rest of the show was cancelled for the day, and all competitors were to dismount, load up, and go home.
I was so, so disappointed! While management is giving everyone who didn't get to complete a credit towards the next horse trial, I was still really bummed out that I wasn't able to finish. The division couldn't even be scored and placed as a combined test, since not even everyone got to ride the stadium course, but a few riders got to finish the entire HT. So, no cross country, no ribbon, and no points towards YEA's.
Here's hoping Fair Hill will yield a full completion, and a RIBBON!