Saturday, January 7, 2012

Our Prelim Debut!

Friday, January 6, 2012

So, this has been a LOOOOONNNNGGGG time coming, but we were finally ready to try our hand (and hooves) at prelim! We opted to go to Tryon Riding and Hunt Club's horse trial held at FENCE and we were not disappointed. I LOVE that place.... it's always so beautiful and such a good time. And I wasn't disappointed. It was really the most fun I've had in a long time. It was also the Adult Team Challenge East Coast Edition, so we had that fun added on too.

I hauled up with Karen and Grant and we had fun hanging out together, like we always do. We had a good dressage ride and then we ate with the Area 2 and 3 Adult riders pot luck and had fun hanging out. The food was delicious. We slept great and stayed warm despite the howling wind.

Saturday morning was an early morning. I got up and got Fleck taken care of and braided. Luckily he wasn't dirty so no bathing needed! We had a good dressage warm up and a great test! Fleck was a little behind my leg in the first leg yield and then when I went for the medium canter... we went for it! And Fleck said yes ma'am and "Porpoised" through the first half of the circle. But he settled nicely and behaved for the rest of the test. It was very consistent and steady and quite nice. Nothing spectacular but I was pleased and Beth was super pleased! We ended up with our best score ever!!! Not just at prelim, but ever! A 31.4!!!! WOW!!! The judge gave us a 9 on our entrance down center line and at the end of our test she wrote that I needed to "lift his poll and get him using his hind end more, then Wow!".... WOW!! We got a "wow"!!! I won't lie... I did a happy dance! Twice ;) That put us tied for 3rd place out of 9. Another wow.... we're usually not that high up after dressage. The stadium course looked super fun and was a good course. Two doubles, a triple bar, a skinny, and some fun lines. Fleck warmed up like a wild man! He was bucking and carrying on, but he finally settled and jumped well. We went in and I didn't quite keep him in front of my leg on a few. We had one rail, which was sorta cheap. Everyone said that the wind blew it down more than Fleck did, but... we also had a few jumps that should have had rails but didn't, so it all worked out in the end. The one rail moved us to fourth. We enjoyed the rest of the day watching and cheering on friends. And my Dad, Grandma, Stepmom, and brother and sister came to watch! They were there for stadium and we had lunch together after. It was great seeing them too. Then I walked XC twice. The first time I walked it with a Mikes hard lemonade. I think that was smart ;) It wasn't a really terrifying touch course, but there were definitely some areas I had concerns about. Nothing that I was too afraid to do and nothing that I thought would be a definite issue. But definitely a few jumps that I knew I would have to ride and Fleck would have to help me out. It didn't look any different the second time around. We had another great dinner that night and got another night of restful sleep. (Which was a little surprising! I think that's the best I've ever slept at a horse show! And it was in the trailer at my first prelim! I think the wind wore me out more than I thought!).


Sunday morning dawned cold and windy, but not quite as bad as I expected. Fleck was warm and cozy and ready to go. I got tacked up and headed across the road to XC. He warmed up PHENOMENALLY!!! Like the best he's ever felt!!! And then I heard "Pat, thump, pat, thump, pat, thump". I thought... hmmm... I bet that's a loose shoe! It wasn't clinking yet, but was getting close. ACCKKKKK!!!! It was not loose when I picked his feet out that morning. But the walk over must have loosened it or the few jumping efforts. So... lucky for me Super Coach and Super Grooms came to the rescue and got it all done!!! I was about to cry.... our FIRST prelim XC.... and he felt sooooo good!!! If I couldn't get out there I would have been so upset. We had done prelim CT's before, but never ran a full prelim XC. But again, the forces aligned and thanks to super coach, super grooms and super farrier.... after much nerve wracking waiting, the farrier found me and got his shoe on tight and we trotted back to warm up. They were waiting on me, even though they moved me to the end of the prelim riders. Of course I was stressed and rushed so I basically ran Fleck at the four warm up fences I took and... at the last one.. which was a hanging log... he said NOPE! We CANNOT jump like this... stopped quick and I flew over his head, landing on my feet on the jump with the reins still in my hand, and was back on his back before I even realized I had fallen! I think my adrenaline was pumping so hard and my brain was on fast forward I didn't even realize I had fallen until I was back on. Luckily my coach was able to calm me down and get me breathing. Ahhhhhhh... deep breath! So we took two more jumps with me actually RIDING! and they went well. So off we went.....

Five, four, three, two, one... have a great ride! We were off. The first four fences were up the hill/mountain so off we went. Fleck was amazing and jumped them all great. We galloped on and did the skinny cabin, then made our nice turn to the bank. Up the bank we went, down the bank we went, and... oops! Drive by instead of jumping the skinny cabin on the bendy line. Totally my fault. I took it for granted and just tried to steer with too long reins, and never used my leg. I lost his shoulder and he ran out. So we circled, got it and carried on. Jumped the table, then down to the coffin. This was a worry spot... The coffin was a decent sized hanging log thing to the ditch to another hanging log. No problem... except it was straight downhill. I was worried I would either over balance too much and take his engine away, or not balance enough and have him be too heavy on his forehand and either not be able to jump, or try and catch a leg. But... no worries... it rode beautifully!!! YAY!!! Off we went to the next jump. The lighting was a little bad and so it was hard to tell what color the flags were. A team mate and friend had told me this and said our jump was the far left. Or that's what I heard... she really said far right. So we jumped the training jump and as we're two strides out I realized it.... but jumped it anyways and then circled around and jumped the proper jump. At this point, I wasn't worried about time. So we carried on, jumped the corner great!!! And I admit... I was a little concerned about the corner. He was amazing though. Then over the coop and onto the bendy brushes. Rode well though he got a little deep to them. Then we came to the super scary fence. My bugaboo fence.... It was a HUGE tall skinny upright steeplechase with brush. TALL before the brush even. And it was a hard line to hold, the path pulled you off to the right. And of course... that's where we had our second run-out. All my fault though. We came up to it and I thought "We've got this"! And I tipped my shoulders just enough a stride out and Fleck said "Sorry mom... can't do it". And he was right.. it was too big with me riding on his head. So... we circled, reapproached and I kept my body back this time, and wow... it worked! ;) He jumped it fine and off we went. We did the downhill hanging log better than I expected and then the trakenher went well too!! Fleck jumped that great and trakenhers usually aren't our best jumps. Of course on landing I lost a stirrup so we went careening around the hill for a minute until I got it back. Luckily in time for the water combo. He jumped that well and then we made it over the giant table and then around the bend to the last jump. WHEEE!!! We finished our first prelim!! Not perfectly and I would have preferred to not have had stops, but... at least they were my fault and I felt like I actually RODE through most of the course.

So whoo hooo!!! We are officially a PRELIM TEAM now!!! I'm so proud of him. He was tired but not exhausted and recovered very quickly. He is sound and happy with tight legs this am and feeling proud of himself.

The weekend was so much fun. In addition to Fleck and I's debut, we also had a grand time with friends. FENCE always seems to be such a fun venue because everyone is close together and we were all cheering each other on. The team competition was a lot of fun too. My prelim team came in second place (no thanks to me, but I knew we'd be the drop score!) and so we got a pretty red neck ribbon for that! And then they ribboned to 8th so we even got a pretty purple ribbon!!! It was just a whole lot of fun.... great company, great views, great weather, great food, and FANTASTIC horses!!

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