The warm up was on grass and quite firm, so I only trotted and cantered for about five minutes then kept walking until they called me over to the ring with 10 minutes to go. That was really helpful since we could work on footing and near the ring. He tightened up a bit but I kept telling myself to relax and we ended up with one of the quietest and most obedient tests of his career! I thought for sure he’d be tense because of the simplicity of the novice test, and I did keep his tempo slower than what the judge wanted, but it kept the peace and we ended up with a 24.4. Whoa! The judge actually
complimented us at the end and recognized him. She asked if he was my prelim horse and I told her about his injury and she asked if I ever did intermediate. It was nice to see someone recognized him after his long absence.
We had several 8s, an 8.5 on his right trot circle, an 8 on his gaits and 7s on the rest of the collectives. As we walked back to the barn, he saw the show jumping and realized what was next, so that was exciting! I barely had time to untack before I had to be over at show jumping. I jumped a few in warm up and in we went! I picked to fence 3, but otherwise, it was a nice, smooth round on my part and I felt quite confident, which was a nice feeling considering show jumping is my toughest phase. He was slightly fussy in between some of the longer lines, but not bad. We got all of our leads except to the last fence, which looked a bit rough.
Lisa kept telling me all day that we were there for fun and schooling so I think that helped me. He knew the start box when he saw it and he settled right in to the first three galloping fences. The jumps were tiny and he was laughing at that them, but I definitely needed it. I haven’t jumped much cross-country above beginner novice since his injury. In fact, we haven’t actually had a cross-country school over novice sized fences since last August at Loudoun before he tweaked his hip. We jumped a few small fences at Morningside in April before Loudoun, then he tweaked his leg in the field and I took him to Gordonsdale last weekend and he lost a front shoe in the first five minutes of trot! So I was definitely rusty.
I rode terribly to a bending line at 4 and 5 and I picked to a couple of small ones, but once we got to the half coffin, I told myself to cut it out and the rest was smooth sailing. He was kind of lining up some of the bigger fences, especially at the water, so I had to disappoint him.
He finished up in third place, on a tie with the second placed person, but I didn’t know that when I went out, and they were closer to the optimum time. We also ended up winning the TIP award for novice.
He cooled off very quickly and settled right down to nap while he iced. I’ve waited a really long time for this moment and while I felt a little unprepared and I wasn’t perfect, I knew he would take care of me.
Those who know me know how much Oh So has meant to me over the last eight years–he’s my best friend and partner in crime and I’m so happy he’s back doing what we both love. I had the vet out on Monday to do some mesotherapy on his back and she watched him go and said his right front looked good.
I poulticed him on Monday and his legs were as tight as I’ve ever seen them on Tuesday morning and I rode him this evening and he felt back to his normal self. He does feel a bit weaker from behind than he used to be, so I think I need to focus on our hill work and maybe work on some more lateral exercises on the flat like walk to canter and haunches in to get him to sit a bit more. I felt it most when I collected him to do the bank down on cross-country.
Bear and I have been going through a learning curve on the flat, so I decided to scratch him from Waredaca, hence the reason Oh So went instead. I’ve lost a bit on confidence in my abilities for some reason and I’m having trouble with the feeling of getting him off his shoulder and really, truly bending around my inside leg and going forward. It’s purely my inexperience with his quiet way of going compared to Oh So and I’m frustrated with myself for not being able to fix it.
He’s at a point now where I can push him a little more on the flat and not treat him like such a baby and it’s a lesson I’m slowly learning. He’s entered at Seneca and Oh So will go to Surefire…fingers crossed! I’m headed to Bromont in Quebec for the weekend and I’m super excited to cover it for COTH. It should be perfect weather.