Wolf Gap. It happened.
I don’t know what it was about the day, but the whole thing was just… funky.
We had a fairly exciting ride down, finding out after cresting a hill that my (borrowed) rig was fairly unstable for various reasons. This, of course, translates into the trailer fishtailing wildly all over the road and me thanking the good lord we were in a ¾ truck that wasn’t affected by the movement of the trailer. I pulled off thinking we’d surely blown a tire on the trailer, but nope, just the fact that the trailer was moving faster than the truck, no brake controller on the truck and since the trailer was riding “uphill” anyway, it just didn’t stabilize like I was used to. Leslie made a vaguely panicky call to Amy, who was a mile behind us, and she reassured me that I’d live and so would my horses.
So, when my heart rate returned to normal, I proceeded on to Wolf Gap, at the new, reduced speed of 50 mph.
We made it there, got unloaded and I made it into dressage warmup on Ari with about 10 minutes to prep. Our warmup was just “eh”, which made for a test that was just “eh.” The highlights include Ari squealing into his right lead canter and having the whistle blown on me for being one step late in my walk transistion- after I’d already started walking. The transition was “between M and C.” Yes, I missed it. I started walking a stride after C. I was already walking when she blew the whistle and made me circle back to M. REALLY?! I WAS ALREADY WALKING, GIVE ME THE 2 POINT PENALTY AND GET ON WITH LIFE. Need the flow of the test really be disrupted? Oi. (All photos by Leslie Vancil)
Brandy’s dressage was also just so-so. She was very fussy and if she was capable of bucking, I think she would have bucked through her right-lead canter transition, also. She took the wrong lead and then when I brought her back to ask her to pick it up again, she cantered in place for about three steps. She had some moments of REAL brilliance in the test- where she stretched down and got so round through her back, but also some moments of absolute pissy-mare-ness. Like our whole free walk, for example. Amy says I need to push her INTO my hand more, not allow her to be so light. Fair enough.
The many faces of Brandy- "Nonononononono!" "Cookies?"
Overshot centerline a little, maybe.
Our halts are painful. I admit it.
Ari's warmup was nice. Amy and I decided I needed my stirrups to be a hole shorter, which was good. I need to ride more positively to the fences- which loosely translates to lift my shoulders and stomach UP, UP, UP and push him out in front of me. And then I'm not allowed to jump until her does. Period.
His cross country run was very unsteady but fairly uneventful. I need to practice jumping out of a rhythm and galloping and rebalancing. I'm not surprised. He was pretty brave to everything, including the spool jump everyone had issues with (because of the jump judge sprawled out on a blanket) and the faux ditch, but had an ugly stop at an EFFING LOG. A 2' log. Totally not scary in any way, shape or form. He wanted to run out at the water, but I was ready for him and explained that it wouldn't be a great idea. I was overall quite pleased and if I can get the balance better, the ride will come.
We ended up with oodles of time penalties, but so did EVERYONE else. Megan and I tried to complain, but it fell on deaf ears, so... oh well. A recognized HT probably would have dropped them if EVERYONE had time, but thats the schooling show aspect, I guess. Ari ended up 4th in his division with an XC score that should have been his total score... like I said... it was funky.
Brandy's warmup was good- I actually got a bit of a mini-lesson at the same time. Her XC was not very typical for her. She just never really hit her stride and I had to use my stick more than ever. She was also brave to the spool and the ditch, but again, had a stop at the stupid log. I can only chalk hers up to me, but I feel like I rode it as well as I knew how. They both came over the ditch pissed and I think they just didn't have time to refocus to the log- I dunno.
The course walked very soft, but rode very awkwardly. My only thought as of two days later is that the course had a lot of disconnect as far as continuity of jumps, ability to hit a steady rhythm, not a lot of room for galloping... It really should not have been an issue at this level, but apparently it was, because it ended up being a "last man standing" type of thing. Brutal.
At any rate, Megan and I were four of the six people who made it around at BN, which is always good. I guess...
We always have a good time, regardless, so there's that. We enjoyed ourselves despite the issues of the day.
On Thursday before Wolf Gap, I had another jump lesson on Ari. He was zombie-esque for the first 15 minutes of the lesson, and we blazed through flatwork to get to jumping so he might wake up a little. Amy had to put some branches in the white panel to get him to pick his feet up! Lazy bum. Anyway, we worked on establishing enough impulsion, the correct balance and putting Ari in sticky spots to make him learn that he needs to go OVER. I had quite a few stops, but they would have all been avoided if I could ride a little harder. I'm in a place where I feel WHEN I need to do more, but can't quite get it together to actually do what needs to be done.
The... um... best... part of the lesson was after I jumped down the two lines Amy had us working over, and landed over a fairly decent sized oxer feeling quite proud of my self. The next thing I knew, Ari had ducked right and I was colorfully describing how I felt about him as I flew through the air. I landed in a heap on the group, scraped my pride up out of the dirt the best I could and climbed back aboard like nothing had happened.
The dirt and grass on my left thigh gave it away, though, lest I forget what had happened. The rest of the lesson went swimmingly once I remembered that just because you've cleared the course doesn't mean you should quit riding. Note to self: Riding is the art of keeping the horse between you and the ground.
In other news, Shasta officially belongs to Rebecca. Huge congrats to both Shasta and Rebecca and we can't wait to hear about their adventures as they get to know each other.
Also, Glee is back on, and that makes Tuesday the best night of the week. Period.