The weather cleared, the footing dried up and it all came together this weekend for my first event of the season with Bear. Lisa and I have been working hard with Bear this winter teaching him to jump in a better shape, shorten and lengthen a bit and have a quality canter in between the fences and I think it paid off at Loudoun.
The event was fairly quiet, which helped my nerves a bit. We had a simple warm up for dressage and Bear was not fazed by any of the other horses whizzing by him. The test was steady and the only thing I would have changed were my upward and downward transitions. I tend to freak out a bit as I sit the trot to get into canter, worrying he might not be sharp off my leg, so the second canter transition was a bit hurried in my opinion.
The downward transitions are tough for me to teach him at home since I don’t have the best feel for them. As a result, I sometimes don’t ride them as forward as they should be and he tends to be a bit abrupt with the hind legs.
He was very steady and focused in the test to score a 29.7 for second place behind a Hanoverian that looked like he was ready to go third level!
I let my nerves get the best of me a bit in the show jumping and the round wasn’t as smooth as I’d hoped for. It’s a smaller ring than at Morningside, so I let him get a bit unbalanced in some of the turns instead of keeping his inside shoulder up. He cross cantered around one turn after a big effort and I screwed up the distance to the first jump, but overall, he was focused, careful and not looky.
He was raring to go in the start box and I set off with the goal of jumping clear since we hadn’t done that in our three previous events. He was focused on every fence and was willing to jump everything out of stride or even a bit long when I made those moves.
There were a couple of moments when he got his lead over a jump but then had to change on the flat to get to the next jump where he missed since he’s not really confirmed with his changes yet, so we did counter canter a couple, but we finished and he was very confident the whole way around. He even went right in the water.
I’m going to need to work on his gallop in between fences and downhill though because he was getting a bit low. I had to give him several upward pulls on the reins to remind him to stay up and we took our time down the hills in canter, but that’s all part of the learning process.
His stride is deceptively large so we made it home in plenty of time to keep second place. We also won the TIP Award for the beginner novice level, which included a ribbon, backpack and $75! I’ve always wanted to win one and I’ve come close with Oh So, so that was pretty cool. I’ve never won money before at an event.
That money helps make the sting of losing Oh So’s entry for Loudoun hurt a little less. It’s going on two weeks now and he’s still a bit off in trot so I’ve got an appointment on Wednesday to find out what’s going on. To say this is discouraging is an understatement. I’ve waited for nearly two years to get back to an event with him and we’re still not there yet. Fingers crossed it’s not something too serious.