It was looking iffy that we would make it to the Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Horse Trials last week with Oh So having time off for his injury and losing some riding time, plus tons of rain the week before, but I’m happy to say we made it!
I walked the course on Saturday evening because Morven Park is literally five minutes from my house! The footing looked a bit deep in spots, especially at crossings, and I thought for sure Lisa would say we shouldn’t run, so I mentally prepared for the disappointment of just doing a combined test. To be honest, having not done a recognized event at any level for nearly two years, even some of the novice tables looked kind of big to me!
He stayed in overnight to keep clean, and I was there bright and early the next morning to braid, which I also haven’t done for awhile!
We got the chance to ride in the brand new arenas at Morven Park, which was pretty cool. They’re huge, and sort of in a bowl in the infield of the race course, so it’s a little isolated, but quiet.
There was a bit of a walk over from the warm up to the main ring, and that tends to get him a bit tight. I tried to stay as relaxed as I could around the ring, but he was definitely feeling on the edge of being tense. I tend to bring my shoulders forward a bit, post off my toes and lower my hands when that happens, and it was obvious in the latter half of the test.
The first part was OK, but after the free walk I lost him. He gets me 90 percent of the time after the free walk, and I really don’t know how to fix it. We can school it at home until we’re blue in the face, but in the ring, he’ll still do it.
He also gets a bit behind the vertical when he gets tense, so the judge was on us for that. We ended up with a 35, when he really should have been 5-10 points lower than that. It’s tough to because the novice test is so boring. He tends to do better when there’s more to do in the test. Oh well. I told him he’d be back in a few weeks to do dressage until we’re blue in the face at the PVDA licensed show.
He jigged back to the trailer, excited because he knew we were jumping. Lisa and I walked both of our courses, and I was just feeling a bit sick with nerves when she said the footing was OK. We’ve gone prelim, but with missing a week of riding and no recent practice at the height, my anxiety just gets to me.
Lisa always says once I’m out there doing it I’m fine, but I hate that feeling beforehand!
In show jumping I made one dumb mistake of jumping ahead at fence 2, a vertical, so we had that one down, but after that I felt like we got into a better rhythm. The course had a lot of open lines, and I think I needed a better plan instead of, oh, it could be a 7 or an 8. I know I need to be adaptable depending on how we jump the first jump though. I was just indecisive until the last minute.
We went straight over to cross-country, and right out the box. The footing had improved a lot overnight with lots of wind and sun in the morning before we went.
The first two fences were lovely and out of stride. The second one was way long, so we both kind of landed in a heap. Oops. Don’t do that again.
We trotted through a creek crossing because it was quite steep, and he was a bit confused about why I was making him slow down! We popped over a cabin, then came back to trot again for a double bank down. Again, he was like, ‘Mom, why are we doing this?!’
There was a big table right before the water that we jumped right out of stride, then a canter through the water and out over a log, which rode perfectly. We finished just a couple of seconds under the time.
With our rail and crappy dressage score we finished ninth, just out of the ribbons. Darn! But that fact that we were even there to begin with was a big deal. He was so happy to be out again, and life felt balanced!
He felt pretty good on Tuesday after a day off, so I’m hoping we’re on the upswing for this year. I’m a bit too superstitious to say our eventing plans out loud, but we’re doing the PVDA dressage show in two weeks, so I need to start memorizing four tests!
I’ll have a blog about my trip to Badminton soon!