Well, last weekend we went to FENCE and had a pretty good time. The week leading up to the show went as I had planned and I was feeling pretty confident about what was supposed to be our last beginner novice HT. I drove up Saturday morning with SuperMom - we got there about 3 hours before my dressage time as I wanted plenty of time for Charlie to be able to chill out and did not want a repeat of Pine Top. Well, he came off the trailer a little wired and I put him right on the lunge line so he could let off a little excess energy. It seemed to work because within 10 minutes he was perfectly happy to stand around eating grass.
I started getting ready about 45 minutes out from my dressage time and Charlie started getting a little bit more excited. Getting on was a bit of a debacle - note to self, no more 17 hand horses. After I got on, he was pretty good going over to the warm and proceeded to warm up splendidly. Carolyn was kind enough to come warm us up which was very helpful. Unfortunately, I made a huge tactical error and went over to the dressage rings about 10 minutes early. The set-up at FENCE is kind of dumb - there's no warm-up by the rings and you can't see the rings from the warm-up. I should have just asked the ring stewards to let me know when the rider in front of me was in the ring but I didn't. Charlie doesn't do standing around so we walked around on a loose rein and I think he thought we were done. Our test was a bit lack-luster and Charlie spent most of it on his forehand. I just couldn't pick him up. We ended up getting a 39.1 - mostly 6s and 7s with a few 5s tossed in.
Show jumping was a bit of a debacle and where the crappy part comes in. I was just heading over to warm-up when a huge thunderstorm rolled in and they suspended SJ until it was over. Charlie had to wait it out in the trailer which he was NOT happy about and proceeded to work himself into a lather, literally. He was pretty wild coming off the trailer which made life very interesting. Getting on was even more interesting. Amy was there to warm us up which was good and bad. I typically jump 4-6 jumps and head in but she had us really working on the quality of our trot and canter which was good but I think we both got tired. And I was still a little frazzled by his behavior on the ground prior to getting on. We ended up pulling 2 rails which is sooo out of character for me. I can't remember the last time I pulled 2 rails - I'd have to go back to my junior novice/training days with Cowboy (and even then, I don't know that I ever pulled 2 in one round). We pulled the 2nd and 3rd jumps and Amy said he just wasn't jumping well in the beginning.
Cross country was on Sunday and I drove up by myself - I decided I needed to be a grown-up and go by myself. It worked out fabulously! Charlie was quite well behaved from the get-go. I even tied him to the trailer which is a big step for us. I was kind of concerned about XC as there was a ditch (eek!) and the entrance to the water was kind of dumb (very short approach coming off a sharp left hand turn). But other than that, it looked super easy. And since I had pulled 2 rails, I figured this was just a good schooling round. Well, I shouldn't have been worried! Charlie was a rockstar! He clocked around that course like it was nothing. I was going to trot the ditch so he'd have time to see it but he didn't want to trot so I let him canter and he jumped it like it was something he does daily. Water wasn't a problem either - I made him trot but he would have cantered. In fact, he broke to the canter in the middle of the water jump. Such a good pony! Hoofclix got some great photos of us - still trying to decide if I want one. And we came home with this:
Yay for Charlie!
This last week has been the most stressful week I've had in the last 2 years of school. Not exactly the perfect lead up to our first Novice. Monday was my last day in the ER (boo!), Tuesday I was so stressed out all we did was hack around the neighborhood, Wednesday was a lesson with Carolyn, Thursday was my final so I didn't ride, and Friday we left for the Carolina Horse Park stopping on the way at Amy's for a final jump school.
Friday was a bit of a debacle - I was so proud of myself for getting everything ready and leaving on-time and then when I got to Amy's, we had a bit of a trailer mishap. I was in a bit of hurry to get him off and forgot to untie him. He freaked out, pulled back breaking his halter, and proceeded to run all over the farm in his shipping boots for about 10 minutes. He's none the worse for wear although I can't say the same for the shipping boots. Good thing I always have standing wraps in the trailer...
We had a really great lesson and Amy had me focus on getting his inside hind to really step under him. Huge difference in our canter transition. On the jumping side of things, the focus was on riding forward. Charlie had to be forward and supple. I sometimes get lulled into thinking he's collected when, really he's just fallen behind my leg.
Then it was off to the horse park. I got there about 6 (I got stuck in a bit of traffic outside Charlotte) and met Claire who helped me get Charlie settled. We booked it around the XC before it got too dark. I'm not going to lie - it looked huge! 3 foot never looked so big! ;) I got Charlie tucked in for the night and went to Claire's house to crash.
Last fence in the twilight.
Tower they announce from (I'm assuming) when they run the steeplechase.
I got to the horse park the next morning by 7:30, gave Charlie his breakfast and took him for a stroll. The first couple of minutes of the walk were, well, interesting but he calmed right down and spent 15 minutes eating grass. I then walked XC again and called Cherie to get her advice. She laughed when I told her it was huge. It didn't look as big the second time but I was still pretty nervous - it had an up bank (which I hate!) and a roll top 5 strides to a ditch (eek!).
Dressage warm-up was once again awesome but unfortunately, they were running about 15 minutes behind. Information that would have been useful before I got on. Oh well, he was totally ridable and right now, that's all that matters. We got a 38.1 I think, so slightly better than last weekend.
I walked SJ and thought the course was kind of tricky. The first half of the course was very straightforward but the second half was pretty tight. The first part was basically diagonal to diagonal to outside line then the second part was a vertical on the short-end going towards the warm-up, hard and short right hand turn to an oxer, 6/7 strides to another oxer, left roll-back to a 2 stride - oxer to vertical. It rode much nicer than I thought it would. I got lucky on the last fence - I should have whoa'd a bit going into the in-and-out.
On to XC. I'm not going to lie - I felt a little sick walking over to XC. Charlie was pretty low-key in the warm-up until he saw a horse gallop by and then he got excited. Not crazy, but definitely a little amped. We made our way over to the start box where he walked around calmly and we left out of the box quietly (this is kind of a big deal to me - I don't want a crazy horse at the start box!). He took a peek at the first jump which I wasn't really expecting but gave him the benefit of the doubt (they had pumpkins under it) but when he took a look at the second (a plain brown roll-top), I smacked him one and said enough. He was foot perfect the rest of the way! I could have been a little bit more aggressive to the water and thank goodness he was honest at the ditch because I rode it horribly and would have ended up on the ground if he took a hard look but all in all, I was super proud of both of us. He was awesome and I managed to not throw-up! Yay! Even better is the fact that we finished in fourth on our dressage score!!!
Not sure what's up next - I want to get to 2 more shows this year. I might go back to the horse park (they have another schooling show in Nov) or I could go back to FENCE which has a schooling show on the same day as the horse park. My last show will be Pine Top the weekend after Thanksgiving. This next week will be light because of school - school is really starting to get in the way of having fun... Can't wait for it to be over!