Dino Has A "Day" - Flora Lea Starter HT
Some day, I will get all three phases right on the same day. Sunday was not that day.
Our last horse trial of the season didn't exactly go the way I wanted it to, but luckily there were some positive experiences to be had nevertheless!
Logistically, this show went very well. Michael came along to drive the trailer and provide moral support, and I had more than enough time to do everything I needed to before getting ready to ride. As far as timing and organization goes, I felt cool and collected. Win #1 for the Brain.
Dino took his customary nap by the trailer while I did my first XC course walk, and then we got ready for dressage.
|"I iz cute, feed me snax!"|
Here's the video!
I had at least an hour before I needed to be ready for stadium, so I took the opportunity to walk XC one more time. The course was stout - height and width wise, the fences were nearly all built to the max specs. There weren't many terrain questions, but the sheer size of the jumps was making me nervous - especially a BIG table-to-log combination in the first half of the course. (Since when are they allowed to build combinations at BN?!) This was the first combination I'd ever seen on a cross country course, and definitely one of the most 'solid' courses I'd seen to date - turns out it was the same course they used for the recognized event the week prior. My plan was to keep kicking and let Dino find the distances - his scope could take care of us and I just had to trust him and ride positively.
|GIANT TABLE OF DOOM. I swear that thing was bigger than 2'7"!!|
|Fence 1, NO TOUCHY!|
|Allergic to Wood!!|
I took a breather and then popped Dino over a warm-up XC fence before heading out to the start box. He jumped the brush fence absolutely perfectly, and I was feeling super confident that we were going to have an awesome ride.
One of our biggest issues on XC has been Dino feeling backed off (or outright refusing) the first jump on course. I planned to give him a STRONG ride to the cabin at Fence 1 to avoid this!
My pony launched out of the start box like a proper event horse and I RODE THE SNOT OUT OF THAT FIRST FENCE. Leg, stick, "GET UP!!"... there were no mixed messages happening that day! Dino took a gappy distance and sailed over the cabin, whereafter I screamed, "GOOD BOY!!!" and almost started crying with joy. We did it! We got over the first jump! This was going to be amazing! Today was our day!
|No First-Fence-Itis here!|
It was all downhill from there.
While I never gave up (Brain Win!) and kept re-presenting to the fence, Dino was not having any of it. After the fourth failed attempt, the jump judge yelled out for me to skip it and go on. At that point we were eliminated, but I was going to make the best of it if it killed me.
When I allowed Dino to move on from the Killer Produce Stand, he TOOK OFF. I felt like I had absolutely no brakes, he was running frantically across the field, and it was not fun to ride. I tried in vain to pull his face off the ground before Fence 3, a jump I thought would ride super well, and got no response. Another stop. Thankfully he jumped this one when I tried again, but then RAN away from the backside and stopped again at Fence 4 - a log preceded by a gravel road that I had expected Dino to take pause at. We got over it on the second try, and I aimed him at the scariest fence on course, the table. I figured if we could jump that, the second element of the combination wouldn't be a problem.
Wonder of wonders, Dino jumped the table without hesitation, and then stopped at the small log.
Turn around, try again, jump the log. Are you seeing a pattern, here?
I made an attempt to school the water since we had nothing to lose at this point, but Dino was having no part of it. We scooted around the water (it was flagged generously and we actually didn't rack up a refusal here!) and on to Fence 7, a BIG rolltop with brush that scared the crap out of me.
Dino jumped it flawlessly out of stride, as well as Fence 8, an upright brush fence at the top of a very steep hill. Two in a row! We were on a roll!
|Upright brush? No problemo.|
|Friendly hanging log? We gon' die.|
I am, however, REALLY proud of myself for not giving up. I didn't let his behavior rattle me, and while I'm sure I didn't give him an absolutely perfect ride, I kept riding. I sent the message that no matter what Dino does, we are going on and finishing the course. If nothing else, the experience taught me that I can have a really terrible run and not totally lose it mentally. While it sucked, it was a great confidence-building lesson for me. I want to try and go schooling once more this season to end things on a more positive note, and then we are foxhunting to get Dino's confidence back on XC!