Southern Pines recap

I’m relaxing today after a busy weekend at Southern Pines. The 5 1/2 hour trip down was uneventful. When we got there, it was quite windy and cool and Oh So was definitely ready to go. It was his longest trailer ride to a show so far, plus it was his first event of the season, so he was bound to be “up”. Once my dad and I unpacked, I got on and walked Oh So over to the schooling area, where about 100 other people were riding.

It was tense to say the least, but I think he was trying to pay attention. I would have liked for him to stretch, but that wasn’t to be. He actually got more up when I left the schooling area, so we just walked endlessly around the grounds until he gave it up. I braided him after dinner and didn’t sleep well, which I usually don’t when I’m away from home.

My dressage ride time was 9:24, so after he ate his breakfast, I hand walked him, then got on about an hour before my test. He warmed up a bit better than the day before, but after each walk break, it was like starting over again. He was tense, and then got over it. The minute we started trotting around the ring, he tensed his body up. It must have looked alright, because we ended up with a 33.5. He did not want to stretch in the free walk, then he jigged at the end of the diagonal and as we turned down centerline in walk, we had a “conversation”, which was really ugly. He just felt like he kept building as I gathered the reins. We got a 4 for that, but a 9 for our halt, so the fact that he was able to recover that quickly is a sign of improvement for him. We also got a 9 on our transition to medium walk and an 8 on our transition from canter to trot. It was a competitive open novice division, so even with that decent score, we were 15th. Sorry, we’re not quite ready for the 21 that won our division.

We had a couple of hours before show jumping, so I watched some riders go. The course was very flowing, so sharp turns or ugly distances. He warmed up well. I don’t usually need to do a lot, mostly because the warm up ring can be so chaotic that I just want to get out of there. He was a bit fussy on course, but went clear. I would call it “unpolished”. I’ll be interested to see my photos because he felt like he was jumping quite big over the jumps.

We had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the sunshine and cross country. I took lots of photos and will write up a report for the USEA magazine.

My cross country time on Sunday was 10:30, so I got on him about 45 minutes early and rode him in the dressage warmup which wasn’t being used. He was tense, so that plan didn’t work. I let him have a bit of a gallop in the cross country warmup and jumped a few fences. As expected, once on course, he was mad at me for keeping him slow over the tiny jumps. We had a few short spots, and a few good jumps. Overall, he was just fussy and not smooth. I think with the smaller fences, I pick for a distance and he doesn’t like to be held back. The last few fences in the infield of the race course were better because we weren’t weaving through trees.

We ended up 11th out of 28. Overall, I was proud of myself for going to a competition without a coach and getting it done. But I think we would have been fine doing training. The course looked very inviting. The prelim even looked doable!

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