Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Fleck and I headed to FENCE in Tryon, NC (or is it South Carolina?? It's right on the border, so you know....). We picked up friends and made our way. And man... I always forget quite how beautiful Tryon is. It's got this gorgeous mountains in the backdrop and is just a stunning town. Of course being there the first gorgeous weekend or two of Spring didn't hurt, but wow..... The place is gorgeous with rolling hills and green grass and that super yummy cinnamon apple smell blooming from some tree or flower. So anyways... we got there and got the ponies settled in and then we rode. I took a flat lesson with my new coach and really liked her. She picks up on the little things that I need to focus on, but by focusing on those little things, they create a huge difference in Fleck. He really felt quite good. We didn't ride that hard because it was hot and you know...dressage and cross country the next day. So we took a little hack around the place and then went to work on all the prep work - cleaning tack, bathing horses, etc. We had a lovely dinner with friends and did night check and went to bed. Well... I tried to sleep anyways. You'd think after working...oh how ever many zillions of hours it ended up being all week, not sleeping but 5 hours the night before and riding and stressing... I'd sleep. But nope... I tossed and turned most of the night and was already awake when the alarm went off at 5:15 am. Because yes... my ride time for dressage was 8:06!
So Saturday am we headed to the barns bright and early. We were the first ones there! I managed to braid Fleck and was so excited that he kept himself poop stain free overnight. I timed it just right and was able to warm up just about the perfect time before my test. Unfortunately the girl in front of me scratched so the judge was waiting on me. The dressage arena's were inside a covered and there wasn't any room to trot around the outside. We walked in and were going to at least walk to that end and come back but she blew the "whistle" as soon as we entered. And yet again... instead of a whistle we had a duck call. So Fleck froze, his head went up, and...we stared. The judge was like "that was your whistle"! I know.. I know... So I let Fleck stare for a few more seconds and then we turned around and entered at A to begin our test. In warm up Beth had told me to keep the reins shorter. The longer my reins got, the longer his frame got and the more he tipped onto his forehand. So I tried to follow her directions and he did seem better. However, he was a little bit braced against me in his ribcage and counter bent on the judges half of the arena, and I wasn't sitting as much as I should have. I'm sure I could have half-halted much more and been a little more demanding, but I was a little stressed at feeling rushed and then for a split second thought I had forgotten the test. Then the other rings whistle blew and it threw me off because I thought I was off course. So....I definitely wasn't on my A game. However, that may not have changed anything. Fleck was a pretty good boy and while it wasn't our worst test, it wasn't our best either. I felt like there were good moments, and other not so good moments. We ended up with a 37.3, which... not great, but better than our 41.4 at Full Gallop. So I took Fleck back and as I snuck peeks through out the morning, it was looking pretty good score wise. I was in 4th with most of the class already done, so not too shabby. We got an 8 on our entry down centerline, mostly 7's, a few 5's and a few more 6's. She wrote that my test was a bit conservative, which is true. But i got a 7 for rider and she gave us a 7 for his gaits. Yay!
I then spent the afternoon manning the Long Format Club booth and trying to promote the long format and T3D and P3Ds. It was fun. And as a quick aside.... the long Format Club is a grassroots organization that is promoting the long format. We generate funds through merchandise sales and donations and give money to organizers to help offset some of the cost of running the long formats. You can find more info at www.LongFormatClub.com .
So... Sunday morning, Easter morning, was another glorious day. I arrived again bright and early at the barn and watched my friend do her prelim stadium round. I then braided Fleck again because my trainer pointed out that if I moved up to first she would be very sad if I had floppy unbraided mane. So yes ma'am! We braided and got tacked up and went and warmed up. Fleck warmed up pretty good and then we took a breather and watched a few rounds. The course seemed to ride well and there weren't many rails at all. Yikes.. my nerves then kicked in and I rode awful so Beth had to fix me all over again. She even tied knots in my reins because I was letting them get WAY too long. So.... finally it was my turn. FENCE does reverse order of go, which I always like because the pressures on! So we went in and off we went. The first jump was fine but he drifted left. It was a bendy line to the left but rode best if you rode straight for 5 strides and then turned left for the final two. Well... when he drifted left it sorta threw my straight plan out of the window. And I knew better... I know he drifts and I had planned to plant my left leg to prevent it, but I didn't. So we had sorta an awkward jump to 2, and that made the tight turn to 3 even more awkward, but my lovely horse managed to pick his feet up and get us through it with no rails. At that point I realized I was letting him down and asking a lot of him so I sat up and rode. We managed to rock around the rest of the course, including the triple with the bendy line to the vertical without any rails or issues and even though I sorta threw him to the long spot on the last fence, we went clean. WHOO HOOO!!! I was so glad that I had managed to atleast keep my position. Well... I was watching but somehow missed that the 2nd place girl had a rail, so whoo hoo!!! I mean... it really sucks for her and I hate that I moved up because of someone else having a problem, but.. whoo hoo that I moved up to 2nd. That meant I was now qualified for the Area Champs, but also AEC's (the American Eventing Championships). Then the first place girl went in and all went well until she hit the triple. Her mare didn't want to play and ducked out. Doh. She went fine at her second attempt, but that dropped her out of first and me into it's place. Holy Crud... did we just WIN?!?!?! Sure enough!! We got a pretty blue ribbon, a t-shirt, a gift card and a coozie. And we got to do the Victory Gallop!!! How fun!!! I was so proud of myself and the spotted beast!!!
I ordered the whole cd of pictures because you know... I had to! We won!!! And wow... my horse really is coming along quite nicely. I've never seen him pick up his knees like that in stadium and his dressage overall looks much nicer than previous tests. Sure, he's gone nicer at home, but... for the shows, he looked great.
I totally can't wait for the Fall - T3D and AEC's here we come!!!!!