After my not so great jump school on Friday morning, Sara and I hustled to meet our 11 AM departure time. We said 11 knowing we most likely wouldn't get on the road until noon. We were right - we left the farm at noon on the dot. Now, I've been to Southern Pines numerous times and for the most part, it's a pretty easy drive. Except for one stretch that entails a 2-lane road with a speed limit of 55 and numerous stoplights. You either have to slam on the brakes giving yourself and the ponies whiplash or run red lights - neither of the above are great options in my opinion. So when Janna told me she had a better route that was slightly longer, I was all about it. Except Janna gave awful directions and we ended up lost. Our 4.5 hour drive turned into 6 hrs. Let's just say we were a little cranky by the time we finally made it to the Carolina Horse Park.
We got to the horse park around 6 and quickly got Charlie and Maggie settled into their weekend digs. The stalls at CHP are absolutely lovely - they're permanent, matted, and best of all have doors. Oh, and they come fully equipped with screw eyes for water and feed buckets. How awesome is that? We then took off to walk the cross country course. Sara was riding novice and I was going beginner novice - both courses literally followed the same track so we were able to walk together and bounce ideas off each other. It was a very straightforward course for both of us - no ditch on either course and the water was a run through only for both courses. After our course walk, we took the ponies out for a quick stroll and then tucked them in for the night. Sara and I booked it into Southern Pines to meet Clair and her boyfriend for dinner. Clair was kind enough to let us stay with her for the night.
We got to the horse park on Saturday around 7:15ish and fed the ponies. Sara's dressage time was at 8:38 so she got herself dressed and Maggie beautified. Now, I should tell you that Charlie and Maggie are attached at the hip - literally. I hate when that happens! When Sara was ready to go, we took both horses out of the stalls; Sara went one way and I went the other. I let Charlie graze and cry for Maggie for about 5 minutes and then brought him back to his stall. It was kind of funny because Charlie was so confused as to where Maggie was. He settled down and I went to watch Sara and Maggie who had a very nice test considering they hadn't been to a show in 2+ years.
I headed back out to walk XC alone and had a little phone pep talk with Cherie about Charlie's separation anxiety. She told me to get on him and hack him around for a bit. As soon as I got back from walking, I did just that. He was ok - not as bad as he was at Pine Top but definitely not my normal horse. I rode him in the day trailering field for about 10 minutes and when he settled a bit, I took him over to the dressage warm-up and rode around there for another 10 minutes. By the end he was fairly settled - still tense, but not jumping out of his skin. We went back to his stall where I sponged him off and let him chill before our 11:38 dressage time. Sara was heading out for SJ and XC at 10:50 so we did the same thing as before, she went one way and Charlie and I went the other.
Since I had already ridden him, I decided I wanted to get on at 11:10 figuring that would give me time to get him settled as well as give him some breaks without feeling rushed. I thought he'd come out tense and looking for Maggie (kind of how he was when I hacked him) - well, I couldn't have been more wrong. He was a bit tense walking over to the warm-up but once he got going, he was soft, forward and totally relaxed. I didn't know what to do with him! Here was the horse I have at home, not the crazy one I rode at 10 or the one who showed up at Pine Top. I rode him for 10 minutes then walked around for a bit on the buckle. Unfortunately, the ring was running about 10 minutes behind so I was on waaaaaay too early. We just kind of wandered around because it was hot and I knew if I did too much his fun meter would run out. He really only needed a 5 minute warm-up and we would have had a great test. As it is, we had a good one (especially since I learned the test that morning! Oops!) and ended up with a 36. I was so proud of him for being his normal awesome self instead of deranged lunatic. I definitely could have ridden better and pushed for more but I was so excited about his demeanor, I honestly didn't care.
My SJ time was 1:27 and I got on about 1:10. I walked, trotted, and cantered in each direction and then watched a few rounds. When I was 3 out, we jumped 4 fences and waited our turn. He was great - didn't look at anything and was forward and rhythmic the whole way around. I actually felt I rode really well. The first fence was really our only kind of awkward jump - everything else was great. I was pretty proud of myself as I wasn't feeling super confident after our XC school the previous weekend and my crappy school on Friday morning.
We went straight from SJ to XC. I only jumped one log jump in the XC warm-up so he would kind of have a clue that we were switching things up. XC was great - he was bold without being scary. He was a little strong (still have to figure out the bit thing - I rode him in the KK loose ring instead of the full-cheek french link because I thought he would be a little tired. He wasn't - haha!) but listened when I asked him to pick his head up and balance. I made a point of not seeing anything long. It was awesome! Again, very proud of both us as we didn't have one bad fence. Only thing I can be picky about is he walked into the water instead of trotting. Not sure what I need to do about that because when we school water, he will typically trot in with no problem but whenever we go to a show, he's a little more cautious.
I must say, I walked away from this weekend super excited. I felt like things finally clicked and we both performed our best. Definitely lots to work on but overall, the weekend was a resounding success! Yay for us!
Oh, pretty sure I'm going to buy some of the pics so when I do, I'll make sure I post them. Charlie definitely needs some bigger jumps. Guess I need to catch-up with him!
Pretty sure I've posted this photo before but he's so cute why not use it again? This was at Pine Top on XC day right before XC.