Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chattahoochee Hills recap!!

The ups!

 Ari. Was. A. Rockstar.

He had some great dressage movements, though overall it wasn't his best test. It seems like I get a new "thing" right before every show and don't have time to settle him into it in time to go down centerline. He was fussy in the connection, but fairly uphill and not heavy. His transitions were prompt and he was forward and animated (for him).

 Our XC was indescribable. I'm serious.

 I know it sounds hokey, but I walked into warmup and looked at Amy and said "I'm nervous." My stomach was down somewhere around my kneecaps. Not for any particular reason. There was no element or specific thing on course that really worried me... just fear of the unknown... new course, second novice (and our first was kind of a wash), new bit... just a little overwhelmed.

Chatt had 5 or 6 XC fences in warmup, which is AWESOME. We didn't even look at the stadium jumps, just trotted a little log ramp they had. Our first jump is always the worst because as much as I'm "riding," I'm always riding very defensively. And I know I do it. And I can't stop. So Amy waved me over and we had a little chat. Between that and Megan giving me a little pep talk while we were walking our course the night before, something just CLICKED. The lightbulb came on and I got it. The ride was there. My horse was on. We were READY.

I was about 3 riders out from my turn (6 minutes) and I couldn't WAIT to get on course. Ari, who usually cocks one leg and falls asleep in the start box, wouldn't be still. There was an electric current running between us... he was edgy and pulling, but not rudely or obnoxiously. I waited until the starter gave us 10 seconds, started my watch, turned him, trotted him into the start box and galloped out- he hit his lick immediately. Pulled me to the first fence and landed full tilt. The second jump came after a rollback and when I turned to face the other direction, the wind was roaring in my ears and Ari was flying. The third fence was the first of the "lookie" fences and I kicked him off the ground when he landed, we settled into a nice little pace. Fourth and fifth fences jumped great and at that point I wasn't worried about what the fence looked like any more- just GETTING there correctly. And I'm PRETTY sure that is how its supposed to be. He was terrific around the course. Only one little bobble at 7 and the rest was a cakewalk. There was an up-two strides- down bank combination that had me worried- I grabbed my strap and he took me right across it. Ari came off course breathing fire, which is what I was looking for again- that is how he was at Poplar in Sept, but MTPC took the wind right out of his sales.

Stadium was good, too. I didn't have much horse when we started warmup, but Amy quickly remedied that situation. Again, we had a couple minutes before we went and Ari was edgy, didn't want to stand still, came into the ring with a whole new attitude (This begs the question... reflection of me or was he feeling more confident, too?!) We did our tour, cantered around the ring, missed our lead (Megan observed that he jumps well off the wrong lead. I figure if it's hard, he'll learn how to swap... so far my plan is not working.)

He jumped around well, had a rail at the two stride. The course was fair but tricky, took an accurate, forward ride and most riders had a rail or two. Nice to see excellent rides rewarded and stadium have some effect on placings.

Other fun Chattahoochee moments!

I got to use the phrase "Way down yonder, by the Chattahoochee!" in a conversation. And have it be contextually accurate. Someone asked where the start box was while we were walking- we pointed towards the box- next to the river- and I dropped that phrase. I laughed so hard I cried.

Way down yonder...
 The PSF gang may or may not have created a minor spectacle while walking the stadium course on Saturday night.  It is possible that we had a carpet-fiber fight in the arena. It MAY have started with me picking up pieces of carpet and throwing them at Amy, Megan and Stacy. They MIGHT have retaliated. After Stacy managed to turn Amy on me, and I tried to take her down (she has a lower center of gravity), MEGAN managed to push us both down in the sand, where she proceeded to jump on top of us, beat the crap out of me, give me a wedgie (depositing vast amounts of sand in my underwear) and somehow, with the help of Lewis, Amy got me into a precarious position which involved a gator-like death roll to keep my boots on my feet. All while shrieking incoherently. But like I said, it may not have happened like that.

Lewis thinks the PSF girls are a "9." I guess he reserves the "10" for the leader of the pack...
 The PSF gang got to spend some time with Aunt Lynda!! We love her to death! I also got to meet FB friend Amy, new friend Tanya and get to know the AWESOME show photographer, Mark Lehner of hoofclix (who provided most of the photos for this post! Support your show photographer, buy photos!)

Megan, Pippa, Opal, Lauren, Amy, Tex, Lynda, Stacy, Carol and Crescent hanging out!
 The facility was incredible. XC designer gets two hearty thumbs up from me- course rode beautifully with the terrain and turns setting you up perfectly for each fence. Yes, there were some riding questions and visual things, but overall it was set up for a successful run (amazing concept, here.)

I got to drive MY RIG to the show with co-pilot Megan and passenger River. The rig drove great, I went up and down Monteagle and didn't die (Megan had to talk me through it. Thanks Megan!) I also drove through ATL in rush hour traffic. I guess I can say I'm broken in, now.
Amy, Meg and I!
Me, Stacy and Amy- apparently Amy and I like to match!

The cons!
(This is where I whine. Its my blog, I can whine if I want to! You've been warned.)

The announcer sucked. SUCKED. He started with dressage "Jane Doe, riding Locked and Loaded... and what a pistol this horse is!" "XYZ riding "The Duke!" and how noble he is!" *groan* Then on XC... we heard about six hours of this running commentary. "Amy, clear, bank." "George, clear, log." "Sally, clear, water one." "Mary, clear, wall." OMG KILL ME NOW.

Dressage judges. No good. There were ties in every division. Some divisions had THREE ties. Now, I can't say for sure this is the fault of the dressage judges, but I'd never seen so many ties. Also, my test read like this "4- fussy in the bridle. 6, fussy in the bridle. 5, fussy in the bridle. 7, fussy in the bridle." OKAY, I GET IT. HE WAS FUSSY IN THE BRIDLE. Could you GIVE ME SOME FEEDBACK about why sometimes I had a SEVEN when he was fussy and why sometimes I had a FOUR when he was fussy?! His score was a 40.5 which is his highest score by about 5 points in the 6 years I've owned him. Not to say he didn't deserve it, but... well...

They advertised a wine and cheese party on Friday and a competitors party on Saturday... didn't happen.

And I'm going to whine about this. They only gave ribbons to sixth place. Really, a ribbon is not the biggest deal in the world to me, but I paid A LOT of money to these people to go to this show (more than a normal event, which is why I'm a little miffed) and they couldn't pin to eighth place like every other event in the world?

Poplar is the other facility that is slightly more expensive and runs a top notch show, and they make every competitor feel like they're at Rolex, in my humble opinion. I don't mind paying them a little more for the privilege of riding at their incredible facility.

Chatt Hills, on the other hand, didn't quite hit that level, I'm afraid... not to say it wasn't a beautifully run horse trial, but I think they could do a lot more to truly hit the standard of the premier facility they're aiming for.

So! Thats how I feel about that. Overall, an incredible weekend with lots and LOTS of fun and good riding.

And obviously... my horse wasn't too stressed about the whole weekend!


  1. Ribbons to 6th!?!?!? what the heck? With Chatt being as expensive as it is, I think they should go to 10th like Flying Cross does!

    Sounds like you had an awesome weekend! I love your XC saddle pad :)

  2. Hey great meeting you, too! Isn't there a feedback page somewhere??? I feel like i always get a survey from Poplar after the show. My only unfortunate thought is that the show filled even though its the most expensive out there... so it's unlikely they'll be dropping prices anytime soon. Ugh. My credit card is crying... but my AEC qualification checkmark is there, so I've got to buck up. See you soon!

  3. Just reading your judging critique made me nauseous. They seriously should have been better at giving feedback and their rubric for scoring was clearly faulty. A 4 AND a 7?? That's crazy.

  4. I read your blog and this comment proves it. I loved your running commentary of XC! It's like I was there...well, I was there-ish but technically I was warming up for dressage (alone, crying), but was sending you positive mojo as the announcer proclaimed you clear over each fence and that you had simultaniously saved the world and finished the course with a perfect round. You are my hero.

  5. Those are some really fabulous photos of you and Ari!!

  6. I'm still sorry, Megan!!! Will you ever forgive me?