A victory at Virginia Horse Trials

I didn’t have huge expectations going into this weekend- I hadn’t had a jump or flat lesson in three weeks and had been in Spain for much of that time. I was kind of tired driving down on Friday and knew it was going to be a hot and sticky weekend. We had a decent flat ride once we got there, but Oh So definitely felt like he needed to be more laterally supple. I schooled some movements from the test since I hadn’t had a chance to have a decent flat school earlier in the week.

Our dressage time on Friday was early, so that helped conserve our energy. He got a little up once we started trotting around the ring, but started things off right with a square halt. He kind of blew off my right leg throughout the test, so it just felt a bit rough to me. Low and behold, we were in first after dressage in a big division with a 29.6!

The cross-country course was a bit different than last fall, but I’m so comfortable with the venue that I felt confident going out, even in the heat of the day. We only did about four jumps in the warm up and we hit every spot perfectly. The theme of the course was definitely angling. The first question was at 4ab. It walked a good five strides, and we took the direct route in instead of bending the line. We got to the first part slightly short, landed, did two strides, and I saw an  easy four out, so he lengthened and made it out fine. I’m glad we’ve spent so much time on our canter lengthenings!

I took a bit of a flyer to a roll top downhill and had to really get him back fast to a skinny chevron. The next question was a cabin, then a choice of a left or right line to a really wide triple bar type brush. We chose the right side and angled the cabin in. He was a bit fussy to the first part, but locked on just in time.

After a few good galloping fences, we had a smallish extremely angled set of cabin with one stride in between. It felt comfortable in the middle, but the photos look like he took off quite long. The water was the usual log in, then a sharp bending line to a big, square table out. I wasn’t loving that line, because it tends to get wet at the takeoff for the table and then horses slide and clobber the max table. He jumped up around it quite nicely, even if we were a bit short to it. We had an angled bank up, one stride to a cabin which he did easily. The last question was a coffin at the bottom of the hill. We got in ok, did the one stride to the ditch, then should have gotten a three, but we kind of flubbed the third stride. Next time I need to to sit up faster after the ditch so he really rocks back and jumps around the last part. We finished about 10 seconds over the time for 4.8 time penalties.

For show jumping, I took him up to an empty ring and just let him walk, trot and canter stretching, then I walked up and down a hill for a few minutes before heading over to warm up. We didn’t jump too many fences, but he was really jumping up and over some of them. I was nervous as usual, but we went in and only had one down that he barely touched with his hind toe. He was actually trying really hard, which I don’t always feel in show jumping. It was one of few rounds where I came out and actually felt good about on my part and his. As is normal for this event, we had time faults. Eight to be exact, but I was more concerned about the quality of the jumping, plus everyone else had time faults too, so we ended up winning!

After I saw the score board, I honestly thought I would cry. I never thought we’d win at prelim, let alone in only our fourth one together. My goal still is to finish on my dressage score, but how can I complain after he tried so hard this weekend for me?

Next up is Seneca in three weeks. I’ll post photos here as soon as I get my cd from Brant Gamma.

I’m also working on a blog about my trip to Spain, and I’m gradually uploading photos, so I’ll link to those as soon as possible. It’s a tedious process for sure!

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