VA HT recap – Our first prelim!

I can’t believe the 2011 eventing season is coming to a close! It’s going to be hard to get used to not being at an event every weekend. Oh So’s season finished up this past weekend at the VA Horse Trials in Lexington.

We did our dressage on Friday at about 11am. I just got my new dressage saddle, so it was nice to have the confidence that it fit both of us and put me in a good balance. He warmed up very good, but I think I was on for too long, because by the time we went in for our test, he was a bit tense. It kind of all started in the our first halt. He fussed and tried to look around, then coming off the centerline onto the diagonal, he didn’t bend through the corner. After the medium trot, he stiffened through the corner and our turn down centerline again to a leg yield was stiff. I didn’t go for it in the medium canter, but the counter canter was good for his first time doing it in the small ring. The downwards transitions to trot from counter canter are what really got us. He tightened his back and made it difficult to sit. The second leg yield was better, but the free walk, medium walk, trot sequence was ugly yet again. I am so sick of that sequence. It’s in both training tests, and now it’s in the prelim test too! We ended up in eighth place out of 12, not so hot, with a 37. I tried not to keep my expectations too high, but after last week’s nice test at Waredaca, I was hoping to have a similar feel.

On Friday night we did the jumper class. I entered the second division which was supposed to be up to 3’9″, but nothing was above training level! Either way, we had a lovely clear round and ended up in 11th place.

There was a winter storm warning on Saturday, so that was memorable! When I went to walk my course again, there was snow on all of the jumps! The organizers decided to push cross country until about 3pm. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day once the snow melted, and the footing was decent. I warmed up Oh So by taking him for some short gallop spurts in the warmup to get his kinks out. I also jumped a few fences and turned quickly afterwards to make sure he was paying attention to my turning aids. I’ll go through jump by jump for fun –
Fence 1 – steeplechase brush. We got a good flyer to it.
Fence 2 – A cabin. He got a bit close to it, but got used to the height.
Fence 3 – A bench. We slightly angled it to the left to be able to have a better line to 4.
Fences 4AB – Two offset cabins. They were quite small, and I took back a little bit coming up the hill to them, but he made the two strides easily.
Fence 5 – A skinny cordwood pile. I dropped my left rein after the cabins and had to get it back really quickly! We hit a great spot to the cordwood, but he clobbered it. I think he just had to get used to the bigger height and width.
Fence 6 and 7- A roll top to a chevron. I took back too much to the chevron since it was downhill, but he was honest about it and landed in a good balance.
Fence 8 – A log/mound which we jumped right out of stride.
Fence 9ABC – A very tight ABC coffin. I took back too much to the rolltop, then landed one stride straight, then turned and took two strides over the ditch then one stride over the skinny coop. He was honest about my mistake and really just looked for the flags.
Fence 10 – A big-ass table/ramp.
Fence 11AB -A skinny table, left bending line to a right-handed corner. AHH! is what I said when I saw the degree of turn. But I landed from the table and kicked on and he found his spot to the corner.
Fence 12 – Another corner, this time left-handed. As much as I hate corners, he didn’t seem to mind.
Fence 13 – A table. Got a little deep to it, but it wasn’t maximum height.
Fence 14 – A training log into a ravine. We did it in the spring.
Fencea 15 and 16 – Barrels, three strides to a square table. We rode it just like I walked it on an angle. All I needed to do was take ahold of my left outside rein and he locked on.
Fence 17 – A yucky bridge jump with a hole in the middle. Got a bit deep to it since I realized last minute how the ground sloped down towards it. Of course they got a photo of it!
Fence 18ab – One stride brushes. Jumped in a bit big and got a shorter-than-what-I-wanted stride in between.
Fence 19 – Log into water. No problem.
Fence 20 – Picture frame jump. He actually ducked his head under this. It was pretty funny. He pinned his ears back too!
Fence 21 – steeplechase brush. Home free!

We were only a few seconds over the time, so I was pleased with myself for keeping the pace. Overall, it really didn’t feel that much bigger to me, just more technical. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a prelim, so I was glad it didn’t make me nauseous! He didn’t struggle either. I think he did have to work a bit though, and was figuring out the heights and widths as we went along.

We moved up to third overnight. Show jumping didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. We had four rails down. It was a similar course to Friday night, but actually at prelim height. I personally got to most of the jumps from a good pace and at a good distance, but he was not helping me out. He fussed in between the jumps the whole time. Lisa thinks it was partially because of greenness, partially because of doing cross-country the day before, and partially because of attitude. I’ll admit I asked for a long one at the first, but he just didn’t pick up his feet to 2. He had 4 down, as well as 7. He jumped the triple combination well, but had the fence after that down.

Looking at the scoreboard, it looked like carnage across all prelim and intermediate divisions. I’m not quite sure why, but I would guess part of it was because of the coliseum and because they all did cross-country before show jumping, which we don’t do very often in Area II. We ended up third, even with all those rails!

Overall, we accomplished what I set out to do, which was complete. I’ve been really fortunate to have had a full season, not missing any events due to injury or lost shoes, etc. We’ve both been a bit inconsistent, me especially in show jumping and him in dressage, but the cross-country is definitely there and that’s all I can ask for. Now we have to spend the winter working on our dressage with Heidi and schooling at 3’7″ consistently, as well as working on control in between the jumps. I need to find some jumper and dressage shows, but so far, there’s nothing listed near me. Hopefully people will update their calendars soon.

I’m working at Rubicon, Kelly’s Ford and MD HT the next two weekends, then the Area II season is over! I’ll be spending my free time trying to find a job!

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