Post-Event Thoughts: Stadium
Going into this horse trial, stadium was my biggest worry. I hadn't jumped much yet this year, and my one jump school at home was an all-out disaster for all intents and purposes. I didn't feel prepared, I didn't feel ready, and I was not expecting good things.
The course looked fairly straightforward on paper except for two bending lines that looked awfully funny from my vantage point standing outside the arena. Suddenly thoughts of Dino running out or stopping flooded my mind, I started imagining myself flubbing every distance and pulling him to a stop, and other terrible things. I was not looking forward to this stadium round.
Thankfully I had the opportunity to walk the course while they were re-setting the fences for my division, and that did a lot to calm my nerves. Those bending lines I was so worried about were long - 6 or 7 strides - and the curve was not half as severe as it looked from the outside. I planned out a few of my trickier turns and went into warm-up feeling much better about everything. The lesson here? Keep it Positive!
Another Winning Warm-Up
There was only one other pony with us in the warm-up, which was great because it was one less excuse for Dino to get cranky! He was a little sticky getting up into the canter, but once I got him there he was nice and forward, and we did a couple little hand-gallops down the ring before popping over the schooling jumps.
He jumped everything wonderfully, took every distance I asked for (I was seeing distances!), and was generally a rockstar. I jumped the crossrail twice, the vertical and oxer once each, and headed to the show ring. EuroPony did not need any more schooling, and I didn't want to drill him to death just to make myself feel better.
Time To Practice Our Entrance
However, homeboy was not quite in the horse trial groove when we went into the show ring, and while he picked up a nice forward trot immediately, getting the canter before the first fence was not something that I was able to accomplish. He put on his cranky face. He said "NO!" He had flashbacks to the hunter ring? Having him plant his feet and buck because I used my stick too hard was not something I wanted to risk, so I pointed him at Fence 1 and kicked! He jumped it great from a trot and cantered away, and then broke back to the trot in the corner before the turn to Fence 2. Again, I made him jump it from a trot, and after that he was absolutely fantastic.
We Know How To Do This
The rest of the course flowed so well; we had a couple close distances but they weren't stuff-in-an-extra-stride-at-the-last-second chips, I stayed with my pony, and we made smart turns to hit every jump straight and dead-center. I fell back into a confident rhythm on course, and remembered that I DO know how to do this, and do it well. Dino even actually GALLOPED through the finish flags, and I had a bit of a time pulling him up after the course was done!
Keep On Keepin' On
Overall, I was pretty happy with stadium considering how nervous I was about it, and that we hadn't jumped a full course since last fall. We went clear, the round improved with each jump, and I feel that both Dino and I will be more confident and in sync for our next show.