Saturday, January 7, 2012

2010 American Eventing Championships! Yeah Baby!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So Fleck and I qualified for the American Eventing Championships this year. Luckily they were held in Fairburn, Georgia, and not Illiniois, so it saved me some gas money ;) To qualify, we had to have 1st or 2nd in any USEA recognized Training Horse Trials, or 3rd in two USEA recognized Training Horse Trials or 1st through 5th in any USEA Training Area Championship. We ended up qualifying by getting 1st at FENCE!
We have been working our butts off and were all set to go!! And then... disaster struck! I got on for my lesson Tuesday morning and after 10 minutes of warm up, Fleck was almost 3 legged lame. WHAT?!?! What happened!!??? It wasn't the leg with the hole in it from the stud injury. It was the other leg! So... I hopped off and investigated. We figured out it had to be a hot nail and pulled it. However, Flecky was still lame. So..... we headed back home to soak and wait for Kip. Poor Kip... he was headed to the Keys for some rest and well deserved relaxation. But not yet!! Oh no... he had to come back out and pull Fleck's shoe and figure out what the deal was. Poor Fleck just couldn't tolerate more than one nail on that inside wall. nail it was! Kip put a big ol' nail on that side, then put some pour in pad in and we crossed our fingers. Fleck got soaked, and some bute and we crossed our fingers. The plan was to leave Wednesday am, because our ride times were Dressage: Thursday 9:06 am, Cross Country: Thursday 11:34 am, and Stadium: Saturday morning. Sigh.... Wednesday morning Fleck was much much happier. He was not toe touching, was sound at the walk and even sound at the trot.... Until we turned a tight circle. Drats. But... we loaded up anyways because he was so much better I figured maybe a few more hours and he be healed. So off we went, hoping for the best.
We got there and WOW!! What a sight. There was something like 706 horses entered and the sight was amazing. We got unloaded and got Fleck settled and unhitched the trailer. The drove the mile back to truck parking then walked the mile back to the barn ;). Luckily I had "Piglet" to drive around. That itself was an adventure. It took me a few days to get used to driving the mini dirt-bike but what a life saver! After getting organized, we walked the XC course. It was a good course. It started off fairly easy, but by fence 5, it was a championship course. Fence 5 was a fairly steep brush on the top of a hill with a slight drop going down hill on a curve to the water. At the bottom of the hill was a roll top on a small berm, then a few strides to the drop into the water, then a bendy line, out of the water, over a substantial steep skinny brush. Then a few easy gimme fences, then the bank complex. The bank was nothing major, but up a big steep hill and at the apex a hanging log just as you started down the hill. So it was a fun roller-coaster type jump. Then another cabin type jump, then the "man from snowy river" drop but we shared it with BN and Novice so really not that big of a deal, except that we landed and immediately went to an angled double skinny cabin. It was a tight angled line and honestly... Fleck probably would have been fine since he was on fire, but.... we have troubles with angled lines sometimes, we decided to play it safe and circle. Which was allowed as it was 12 and 13, and not an A and a B. Then on to a double corner/faux corner then to the coffin, which was easy (not the angled coffin like at regionals). Then a coop in the big boy field, then a big picnic table, then a one or two stride thingy, then the kennels and then we're done. So then we decided we had better walk the ponies a bit and then get on and ride and see how Fleck's foot was feeling. And yay of yay's the big boy was sound!!!! Hooray for Kip!!! He was actually a little too sound!!! He was soooo excited. It didn't help that it was starting to get dark and the atmosphere was electric, but he was hyped up. :) We had fun ;)
So we packed his foot with ichthamol just to make sure, gave him his bath, and got everything all set up for the morning. Then we did the typical horse show ritual of Mexican dinner and set off for the hotel. We got up nice and early and headed for the show grounds for Day 1!!
Warm up was crazy and Fleck was a little fired up. We had a few antics but nothing unexpected considering how busy warm up was. Fleck behaved for the most part and we avoided collisions. We did as well as could be expected for where we are in our training and felt pretty ready going in. However, I did have a little panic as they sent me in the big ring as the girl was exiting the ring, not as she was starting. Eeeeeks!!! I like to have at least a few seconds to get my thoughts together, so I had a little bit of a panic minute and I think it cost me a bit. But it's okay. It may not have mattered and it may have helped. We went in and had probably as good of a test (minus the one error on my part) as we probably could have given where we are at in our training. Fleck did everything I asked. I started my first 15 meter canter circle and as I got through the first quarter I panicked and couldn't remember if I had just started it or should be finishing it... ie.. should I go to the rail or the quarter line. EEEEKKKKS!!! Crud, crud, crud... what do I do?!! So I weaved.. .maybe?! I finally figured it out, but it cost us. Probably cost us a bit in the lengthen right after too, but again, maybe not. Then I think I got a little hangy in the left rein in the right lead canter and our scores reflected that. I was a little tense in our medium walk so our scores reflected that. Our stretchy trot was better, but my reins were too long in the lengthen so I thought well crud.. I better really push him into that longer rein then.. and Beth said that it was actually a pretty decent lengthen. yay! So overall, not a horrible test for us. The pictures aren't great, but not horrid. We can do better and we will do better, but it wasn't horrid and at least I RODE! Which was my goal. We actually shaved almot 5 points off our score from Full Gallop's test too, which was aweosme. So we ended up with a 40.9. Both judges gave us that score too, so again, it was scored pretty fairly, maybe even a bit generous in my opinion, but I'll take it. That put us in 37th of 51. I'll take it! And we'll keep working at it!

So then... we had two hours before XC. I hosed Fleck off, unbraided him and let him have some time to rest while I tried to walk XC once more. I had just enough time to walk 3/4 of the course and get back and get ready. Eeek, talk about nerves! Actually, it worked well because I really didn't have time to get nervous. I ran back to the barn (well, rode the golf cart back with Liz) and got dressed and tacked up. I was worried Fleck would be tired, but oh no.. He got his second wind when he saw that XC course and was fired up! We warmed up and were all set to go. He felt so good that I really wasn't even nervous. I figured he'd take care of me, and he did! We started off and I didn't touch his face and just let him go. I tried to use my shoulders to balance his shoulders and half-halt and balance him and we had some beautiful first jumps. We got to the scary first fence, which was the upright brush fence on the top of the hill. Fleck just cruised over it and then we went down to the water. There I let him down. I just kinda let him do the work and he kinda rolled over the roll top and rolled down the bank into the water. It wasn't pretty, but he got it done. It didn't feel as bad as the pictures look, but...they look pretty bad! But we'll fix it! But he jumped right in... no dancing on the edge like he used to! Then he jumped out fine, thought not quite as rocked back as I thought I had him. Then off we went. He jumped the roller coaster bank jump lovely and we had a blast. Then he jumped down the "man from snowy river" bank lovely and probably would have jumped the bendy cabins fine, but we had a plan to circle so we did! And man did I circle... I think we did 15 meter canter circles at cross country speed. Hee hee... Without studs! ;) But you know... we had to. The fence lines and jump judges were in the way ;) Plus I wanted to avoid adding too much time, so... we did what we had to do. Then onward to the faux corner and then the coffin. Then we heard the watch beep for the fourth minute as we entered the big boy field. Oops... In my mind, we had one minute left coming out of the big boy field. Which meant, we had to speed up. Only.. that was wrong. Optimum time was 5 minutes and 20 seconds so we were actually spot on (get it?!). But in my brain, I was thinking that instead of having 1 minute and 20 seconds left, I only had 1 minute left, so I clucked a little and Fleck answered. So... we picked up the pace a bit and hurried on. We flew over the coop, flew over the picnic table, and then apparently angled the one or two stride line and flew down to the cabin. THEN... I realized... oops, we still have like 20 seconds, so we cantered politely to the far left side of the finish line and still finished at 4:59. Instead of 5:20 like we wanted. But WHOOO HOOOO!!!! We went double clear and Fleck was amazing!!! He never once faltered... He had his ears pricked looking for the next fence the entire time and he never once questioned. Just answered with yes ma'am and what's next?! I never had to go to spur or crop, just a cluck or squeeze with my legs. I barely even needed to steer, just looked and he went. It was awesome. And the time was at 470, so we were probably running a little closer to 500 mpm. Nice :) Speeding tickets were at 4:49 so we were safe there too. Yeehaw!!!! What fun. So we headed back to the barn and hosed Fleck off and got him cooled down. His heart rate came down fairly quickly, but it did take a little longer for his respiratory rate to come down. Not unusual for him given the humidity and dust. I iced his legs and gave him his icey cold carrots and he was a happy camper!!! Afterwards he took a big long nap! Poor kid, he deserved it. That was a lot of work on one hot day! And all that hard work moved us up to 22nd place!!! Yee Haw!

So then Friday we had the day off. Well Fleck did... I volunteered in the morning, so it was another early day. I manned dressage warm up and met some nice people! We managed to keep the rings running smoothly and had fun! The Chatt Hills people kept us fed and watered so it was fun! We also got a great t-shirt from one of the sponsors.... I can't remember the companys' name, but I will... and edit this! Then at noon I got to go play. Liz wanted a quick ride so I hopped on Fleck bareback and went to join her! However, I wanted to get my free sandwich for volunteering so I grabbed it on my way out and carried it while riding. Hee hee.... Fleck was a good boy, but man he got a little skinny and it wasn't as comfy as he used to be! Then we got down to the cross country field where the schooling riding was (so we didn't interfere with the competitors warming up in the rings) and he perked up! He was all ready to go again! So yeah.. riding the bony boy bareback in the hot sun when we were both sweaty while trying to hold onto my sandwich wasn't easy! But I managed. Even managed a little gallop or two also :) Then we headed back and I watched and cheered Liz and Beth on. They both looked awesome doing their cross country rides! Then I did a little browsing but was good and didn't buy anything. Then walked Fleck some more and had Mexican again :)

Saturday morning... I was nervous!! I'm not sure why. Our double clear cross country run had moved us up to 22nd place. So it wasn't like I was in the ribbons. But maybe it was because I knew I had the potential to cost us a rail and I wanted to end on my dressage score. And maybe it was because I actually had a little bit of time to get nervous. So I was. But it was all good!! Beth had us warming up well and we had three of the most perfect jumps ever!!! Then I screwed it all up by trying to get the lead change and got Fleck and I all unbalanced. And of course it messed up the next jump and that was right as they asked if I was ready. NO!!!! EEEEK!! So we sorta fixed it. Then in we went. Well... I kept telling myself Ritch likes those forward course, so...FORWARD we went! Only a little too forward. Apparently we left out a stride in every combo. The five stride we did in four, and the six stride... we put in five. But that's okay because we went clean :) YAY! It may not have been beautiful and we got away with two lucky rubs, but Fleck tried his heart out for me and kept the rails up. So... we'll finesse that some more and be a bit less desperate next time.

So whooo hoooo!!!! We finished on our dressage score and those double clear jumping rounds moved us up to 15th place!!!!! Fleck and I finished 15th out of 51 of the top Training Amateur Riders in the Nation. :) Well, of the ones that qualified and made the journey, and on that particular week, but still :)

I'm so proud of him!!! Fleckers was a rockstar and really shone this week!!!! He was on fire and I couldn't have asked for anything more from him!!!
Man I love my horse!!

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