Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Right leg blues......

Flecky's such a good boy.... :) And I'm getting it!!!

Started out my ride today and I'm getting the hang of this new way of riding. It's hard, and not instinctual yet, but I'm enjoying thinking!!! :)

But of course... new things popped up. We can get our left shoulder in fairly well... but the right shoulder in just doesn't go as well. I feel like he's leaning in and throwing his haunches in... which then makes me pull my right leg back. NO!!! I need to almost push my right leg forward and about really putting it into his armpit. It's not that his haunches are falling in.. it's that his shoulders are falling in. So... if I put my right leg forward, and really make him bend around my leg... and ignore his haunches, because when I do that... he straighens up horizontally and can then bend around my leg into a proper SI. yay! I also think it sorta helps to sink onto my left seatbone, but that just seemed to work ... not really sure if it's the correct thing to do.
Then.. we got a LOVELY medium trot...and then I panicked cause it got big and totally grabbed at Fleck and pulled him off balance. Egads... So no face grabbing....steady and half-halt with my core and my seat.
What else... oh.... don't be so quick to get up off the saddle... sit longer. But expect him to stop... he's not used to it and it shuts him down. So... be prepared and put my leg on before I sit longer so that I can support him through the longer sit.
What else??.... Oh! At the canter... my big ol' bootie gets in the way with my saddle, but... if I pull my legs away (adduct) for a second and then put them back...it gets my seat bones where they need to be. Which is a little harder to do at the canter than the trot and walk, but doable. :)

So... that's it. I hope I can put it all together and get as nice of a ride at Poplar this weekend as my warm up the other weekend. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yay!!! It's official... we've GOT it!!!!

Whoo hooo!!! It's so funny... just a month ago I was miserable and couldn't do anything right... and was just about at the point where riding wasn't even fun. Now this month... IT IS AWESOME!!!!! Thank God!!! Seriously...
Okay, so it's not funny. It's sad really... but anyways... not dwelling on it.. back to happy appy land :)

I don't know what happened... or what the key is... whether it's the change in fitness, the pentosan, or just the plain and simple fact that I'M FINALLY DOING IT RIGHT!! And Fleck says.. Thank you God!!! :) (We owe him a lot lately :) ) And we owe Beth and Cindy too :) I'm finally getting it. It's finally sinking into my little brain.

So today was the third jumping ride in a row. And... especially after Poplar, we needed it. I really really need to remember to not go too long without jumping. So anyways, three rides in a row, all jumping with Beth. It was exactly what we needed! I think that it finally cemented it into both Fleck and my brains that this is it. THIS is the canter we need. And it's so much easier when we get that. So.. hopefully having three great rides with that canter will be enough to make it stick.

Basically.. here's the fine points.... LEG LEG LEG!!! Ride him UP into the bridle.. keep my seat softly in the saddle, keep my hands at his neck (almost planted, but not really), half halt if needed but not repeatedly and ineffectively, use leg to push him into the bit to half halt himself, no more invertedness, and power power power! And... lastly, don't abandon him. If it's not quite right.... the answer is NOT throwing the reins at him. Its' closing my leg, keeping the connection, and being there for him to help him over.

And you know what?! When I do it right.. it's amazing!!! I can tell it's gonna be awesome, his stride gets bigger and more powerful, his jump gets round and powerful, and I stay with him. And I'm able to keep the connection on the reins and my hands don't float. :)

Ahhhh.... so much happier with myself. I'm actually THINKING again!!! And Fleck is pleased with me too. He's happier with my riding now. But yep... we did grids today and landed left, then landed right, etc. Going to the right we were getting decent changes, but partially only because Fleck drifts left first. Going to the left, he tends to lean and fall in, making them hard. So Beth pointed out that it was because he's drifting in and that I am falling down in my shoulders too and making it harder for him. So... I really need to sit up and sink my right seat bone down. And then before she could even say more... I started thinking that perhaps I need to think about drifting right first. And it worked :) The changes were clean and we managed to stay much more upright :) And in the lines, I was starting to think and ride :) Not every one, but most. :)

So yay.. I"m back!!! And Fleck is oh so glad about it :)

And to top it off... he's feeling GREAT!!!!! He's fit.. he's almost a bit spooky... which I LOVE!! Not in a bad way, but in a "I feel GOOD!" way. :) He looks amazing....
Now... to just get me in the same boat :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fleck channeled his fire breathing TB side today..

And ... it.... was..... AWESOME!!!!!!
We went cross country schooling today at Chatt Hills with Beth. And we got super lucky. The rain held off until we were untacking. Yay!! It was a fun group today. It was us, Kristin and Conrad - the 18 hand HUGE 3/4 belgian, 1/4 standarbred that Fleck grew up with, Jamie and Nike - the ex Olympic 2 in hand champion Dutch Warmblood from the Netherlands, Stephanie and LC - a paint/TB fantastic jumper, Hannah and Gracie, a catty athletic Windfall baby, and Jennifer and Oliver, a TB/Perch/Hanoverian/Appy cross, who while only 1/8 Appy has a TON of color. And they were all awesome :)
We got to Chatt Hills and didn't see any jumps?!?! Ritch had texted Jennifer that they were in a certain field but we didn't know which field that was. So.. Jennifer and I took the two spotted boys on a long trot to the far left field... jumps piled up, but nothing to jump. So then we trotted back to the middle and then went to the far right.... and then kept going... and going. Then we cantered... and kept going and finally... JUMPS! So then we walked and trotted back to the group, which was warming up over the coffin. The other guys were pretty much done so Spotty 1 and Spotty 2 went to it. They were both pretty good. Then we began the long trek back to the jumps again. Hannah and I wanted to race, but... we restrained ourselves.

In the new field was a bunch of jumps... cabins, roll tops, swedish oxer thingy, half rounds, skinnies, and a slight bendy line. We started off and we're doing okay, but not great. Then Fleck landed off jump 3 and on his way to jump four, he started weaving and bulging through his shoulder. Fine... That's a common problem. But then a few strides before the fence, as I'm trying to get him lined up again, he bolts... through his shoulder. It was wierd.... not the usual funky Fleck. He almost ran into the fence as I pulled him off it and tried to get him back under control. I finally did and couldn't figure out what the deal was. Figured I did something and started to attempt it again. Then .... we saw the two horses across the creek in the trees. Aha!! Fleck spooked again. So... I think he had spooked at them and then bolted. So... we regrouped and this time, Fleck maintained a straight forward momentum and we jumped it fine. The rest of the course was a little hiccupy... and I was starting to debate my move down to novice... So.. Beth had me really get that bouncy tigger fire snortin' cavortin' canter again. And wow.. it works!!! We got our canter and suddenly we rocked our whole mini-course! Like, he got to the base of the skinny chevrons, he jumped the centers of the two very skinny slightly offset cabins, and he jumped the heck outta that big roll top. YAY!!

So then we went back out to the font field and played in the water complex (minus the water) and the banks. Beth had us walk down the bank, trot down the bank, then canter down, and then walk, trot, and canter up the bank. And phew... we survived it! Then we did a course.... down the training bank, up the double up training/prelim banks, up the "man from snowy river" novice down bank, then down the prelim bank. Yay! It was fun. And Fleck.... despite having been ridden for going on 3 hours now, and having done his warm up hack.... hit the bottom of the hill and ... just went for it! He shot off like a rocket and was GALLOPING!!!  And it was a real gallop. A big boy gallop!!! Like... an off the track thoroughbred gallop! It was amazing :) And... when I asked him to sit back up before the up bank... he said "Yes ma'am"! It was awesome. I asked Beth if the gallop was okay and she said she actually really liked it! It was a nicely balanced canter.
WOW!!! We did a few courses, including some mad gallops.. IN BALANCE!!!! GO US!!!!!!
So.... if I can just imprint todays ride, and yesterdays ride, into my brain.. and get that every ride... we'll be unstoppable :)
It sounds silly... but Flecky really felt like a rock star today..like an upper level horse... like a fire breathing thoroughbred! I loved it :)

Now to keep this trend up :) And... to start working out so I can keep up!

So... here are my going away things to remember things list.... ;)

  • Keep my hiney in the saddle on the approach
  • Keep my legs firmly clamped on... always pushing him up into the bridle
  • Half-halt if needed, but not repeatedly pulling... not back and forth pulling... just do it once as needed, then set my hands on his neck, maintain the connection, and ride him up into it
  • Going down banks... slide my feet forward so that I don't tip, and don't always slip the reins so much. Keep the connection
  • That bouncy firm connection is JUST as, if not more, important when going up banks. He needs to have an engine.
  • I need to feel that fire breathing, snorting, rip roaring Fleck!!
  • I need to work out so I can keep up!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Great jump lesson!!!!

So today was a great day! I totally snuck in a lesson between work. Thanks to Beth for coming to me so I could manage it and still get about 5 hours of sleep between shifts. :) AND... it was a beautiful day! AND... the icing on the cake... Fleck was a rockstar!!!

I've decided that it was just bad timing at Poplar. I didn't quite give myself enough prep time to get ready after the Winter. And we would have been great at training, but at prelim... we just weren't quite prepared enough. Because today... today my friends, Fleck was wonderful!!! Beth had us really focus on the canter. We started in a circle around her and she insisted that I get him really working that butt! He had to engage and push into the bridle. My job was to create a connection for him to go to, and then push him into that. He tends to either be long and flat...or.. when I can get him nice and round, he falls behind my leg. I think that since he is finally going soft and round... I think "ooooh, this is nice" and let him fall behind my leg without realizing that's what is happening. And it's nice... and we just sorta float along... and then he doesn't have an engine when he needs it. So... we made him get all nice and round but he had to keep it coming! I was really riding  him UP INTO the bridle... Exactly what it sounds like. He needs to move his shoulders up into the bridle, which is achieved by him dropping that hiney into gear. :) So.. we accomplished that. Much easier going to the left than it is going to the right. Most likely because he's more likely to throw that right shoulder out.

So then we started jumping. Just a big cross rail but she had us just circle and circle. EVERY jump today was off the left lead. Well... almost every jump. We've got to strengthen that side. So we started with the cross rail. Don't worry about the jump... me, etc. Just worry about the "quality of the cantAR!. hee hee... I always have to say that in a silly accent in my head. :) So... we did. And at first, he was landing long and strung out, on the right lead.. so then we had to balance, collect, change leads, then push up into the bridle again. Well... when I started to get it.. he'd land on the left lead, land balanced, and continue on pushing up into the bridle. :) YAY!!! It really was a nice feeling. A very confidence boosting feeling... like it didn't matter how bad of a spot we got to kinda feeling. yay! Then we went to the right a few times and that was good so we moved on to a vertical. Same thing.

Then we did the vertical to a six stride to the swedish oxer. ***Fleck tends to get a little long even when it's set for a perfect six strides****** Sorry.. I MUST remember that... which means, for now, while he's still a little weak in this canter.. I MUST ride it forward!! It's kinda a different feel than our canter as of late. I'm all for speed, but this feels much better than just speed. He really felt like a snortin', rarin' to go buckaroo! I mean.. not really, but it was definitely more of his TB side than his Appy side. Almost that feeling when we went foxhunting... Where I was holding him back and he was waiting, but ONLY because he's a good boy and I was asking. He was honestly IN the bridle :) It's a great feeling. So then I noticed that when I did that... I kept my hands down!! Beth pointed out that it's also because I was keeping my reins shorter. They weren't getting too long because I was keeping the connection, not throwing it away. And when the reins are long.. I feel the need to lift my hands to get a connection. Duh.. makes sense. So.. with me keeping the connection, riding him into the bridle.. I was able to keep my hands down on his neck without having to really think about it. Then... I was supporting him, not abandoning him.. and for now.. in a way.. holding him up. BUT.. before, when I would soften the reins too much.. he'd follow the reins, get long and flat and heavy and... problems! So yay!! However, I did need to really keep my leg on him and keep my butt in the saddle. It was hard work. For both of us.... And instead of half-halting repeatedly, as I did one or two trips through.. I just need to think about setting my hands and riding him into them.. effectively making him half-halt himself. In reality, my half-halts are achieved through my upper body and core and not my hands. But try telling my hands that! But I did get better.

Then we did a little course... Up hill over the vertical, down and around through the line, turn left and roll back to another jump. Again, all the same things.. Just because we make a course, doesn't mean I stop riding like I did when it was just circling through the cross rail. Then we did a bendy line and it worked pretty well when I rode it properly the second time. :) Though... I will add... when Beth says a square turn.. in my brain, if I think square turn.. I wait WAY too long... so I have to turn it into circle arc in my brain to get what she wants done.

So yep... Flecky felt great... he had connection and was actually foaming at the mouth to the point of it flinging back in my face. :) (Which I know.. it's not the end all, be all.. but it's good for Flecky!). He was jumping great. And... you know what?!? He didn't stop when I rode and wasn't being a dingbat. Duh!! But I knew that was the case.. Even at Poplar I knew that was the case.

So yay... We're back!!!! Well, perhaps I should say "I'm back"!!! Because Fleck's been fine all along... I just need to remember how to ride :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Valentine!

So..... in the spirit of St. Valentine.... and http://www.horsejunkiesunited.com/?p=22172 :) (GREAT post...) I decided to take a different tactic today. That post reminded me that it's not just about the progress... it's about the journey. And the horse. And while *I* know I love my horse... and probably most of you who know me know it... I wanted to brag on him for a bit. Especially since lately my posts have been a little competition/progress (or lack thereof!) heavy...

So... real quick, because I do need to do my riding reminder.... It's about training.... I need to teach Fleck how to react like I want him to. And to do that, I need to explain it to him in ways he understands. Almost like he's a baby horse. Because in some ways, he is. He and I need to go back to basics in some aspects and fix some holes. So.... today, I didn't react... I taught! If Flecky hollowed... I just really rode the inside leg to outside hand and waited him out. And he did learn!! We were able to do that at the trot and even progress to the canter. :) :) Sure.. it sounds stupid.. and it's a little embarassing, but.. hey, whatever. So.. basically I used circles to get him to soften because the reason he was bracing or leaning was because he's not bending around my inside leg. So I would circle him (but with an indirect rein.... like a baby horse) until he gave that rib cage up. Whichever side he was locked on.. I would turn him that way. So then at the canter.... we got a nice lovely soft BACK UP canter :) Yay.. then to work on the canter to walk.... no reins (as in, I wasn't allowed to use them... all core and seat!), ask for the walk with my seat and core... and if he trots... DON'T PULL THE REINS, but instead Turn him to the outside. Gently, and without reacting.... just an outside turn via direct rein until he walks. Then we calmly carry on. :) And you know what... Flecky figured it out pretty quickly. And yes.. it sounds like I just yank on him, but... it's really not that bad! I promise!! But I do need to react by teaching, not just resorting to pulling.

Okay.. back to the love!
So.... yes... man I love that horse!! He just makes me giggle.... The way his lips wiggle, the way he licks everything... including my jacket, my hands, even my toes that one time! The way his muzzle wrinkles when he's mad or unhappy. The way he's such a princess for the farrier and will hold his foot up if he's unhappy with how a nail is placed. The way he will never ever bite you even if you feed him a treat and hold onto it while he tries to eat it. The way he's TRIES HIS HEART OUT no matter what I ask of him. The way he's brave and sets out on trails, just the two of us, but will also tolerate his little buddy tagging along. The way he uses his horsey friend Sham's butt to rub his itchy head on. Even the way he rubs his itchy head on me and almost knocks me over. The way he tries to hide occasionally when I go to load him up, but once caught, sighs and then loads right up for the next adventure. His cute little neigh at dinnertime. How he turns and sticks his big ol' butt in my face for scratching. How he lets me (and enjoys it!) stick my fingers in his ears and scratch them. How excited he gets foxhunting, yet doesn't care when I put my three nephews on him at once and make him give pony rides. How he shows off how he can open and close the stall door and makes sure I'm watching. How he waits for me outside the back door when he knows I'm up. How a peppermint wrapper crinkle can stop him dead in his tracks. How he forgives all my mistakes and just tries harder to please me. How he trips and scares himself... like someone tripped him. How he's never tried to get me off (though he has gotten me off.. just never really on purpose). I love his little light brown spot on his side and his big silver dollar spot just under his jowl. How he tolerates his little brother and although he pretends otherwise, he loves his Roany. How he's got his own fan club. And the nicknames he's been given - The Mighty Fleck... Spotty... Princess.... Flickers.... The Happy Appy.... And so much more.... He is just Awesome... plain and simple. Just plain ol' awesome

photo credits to The Mighty Mark of Hoofclix

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Progress... finally, sweet progress!!!

Okay, it may only be baby steps, but... it's still a step forward!!!

Had a good ride today with Cindy. We worked on he same old stuff, but it seemed to be clicking better today. And... go me!! I seemed to be catching onto the issues before Cindy could say anything. Not much before, but just enough that I was just starting to correct it as she was saying it. Yay! Go me!!

She gave me a great exercise to really get him to sit in the canter and use that right hind. We would make a circle at the trot... haunches in, then shoulder in, then renvers.. then straighten him up, correct the bend, and then pick up the canter! He was really cantering nicely when we got him set up like that. Especially with the right side as he kept leaning in instead of standing upright. So... another way to help that was the counter flex and straighten him up, then back to true bend.

So yep.. a good lesson! Now to keep up this trend....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Third times a charm.... or NOT! Oops

So... Fleck and I entered our third Prelim horse trials at Poplar Place Farm. I figured this would be a good one for a few reasons. It was early in the season and known to be "soft". The footing should be good regardless of the weather. And... since I had already jumped around there clean once, I figured it would be a less scary course even if it was changed up a bit. It did require me to take a weekend off work because this year it seems that none of the shows fall on my weekends off. And perhaps that should have been a sign. Maybe I should have waited... I thought Fleck and I would be fit and ready. The weather has been mild and I've been riding. But, work has me really stressed out, as well as life in general, and then while I have been riding, I haven't been prepping quite as much as I should have, so..... I guess all that contributed to the fail of a weekend. Well, okay.... I'm in a little better place now so it wasn't a fail. There were some really good parts to the weekend. But still... it didn't end how I wanted.

Flecky and I arrived Friday after an uneventful haul in. I had chatted with a good friend on the way up who knew just what to say to improve my mood, so things were looking up. I walked cross country as they were running dressage and XC Saturday and stadium on Sunday. The course started out the same... the wave, the house, the coop, the downhill coop, to the corner. Then instead of the bench to the double down banks, it was a down bank two strides to the bench. eeeks! After my bench crash earlier in the week... I was a little apprehensive. Especially since Fleck basically rolled down the double downs last time. So okay.. butterflies are now getting a little out of control. Then it was a sharp right into the campgrounds over a cabin then back sharp left to the angled cabin two stride line. So... okay, easy enough.. except that by making us trek over into the woods for the cabin and then back out again... it was a hard line to the angled cabins. And while Fleck jumped them great last time, I knew I had a tendency to not see the line well. So I figured this would be another problem spot. Then it was onto the trakenher, up to the coffin, the same cabin on the hill top, and then... duh duh duh!!! SCARY STUFF!!! There was a HUGE upright wide table.. set on the top of the hill, so you landed downhill. Okay, doable... except that I knew I would need some speed and power for my bravery to get over the table. But I didn't want Fleck to take a flyer because it was upright and landed downhill and then.... a couple of strides after in a bendy line was another cabin at the bottom of the hill. So.. that meant Fleck had to be collected and bouncy. This was going to be VERY hard for me. If I collected him too much to get the sproing needed, I risked backing him off too much and getting a stop. If I didn't collect him enough, he would launch it and land in a heap downhill with momentum carrying us to the second table in a bad way. Luckily it was numbered, not lettered, so I could always circle and jump it as an unrelated line. But I didn't want to. I wanted to "get er done". Then it was the chevrons again (minus the tree this time) to a new water jump. It was another canoe, then into the water, out of the water, and over the paddle. Not a big deal, but very looky. Then the poplar squeeze and then the big wide stone wall. So... a fun course but it would definitely require some riding on my part because of the downhill stuff and my issues.
So we had a good hack and got the kids settled and then went to dinner. And sadly.. this may have been the highlight of my weekend. We ate at the Mountain Top Restaurant.. and I had THE BEST Fried Green Tomato sandwich ever!!! Seriously!! It was so good. I've been craving one for ages and this was perfect. It had cucumbers too, cheese, and some really tasty honey mustard type sauce. WOW... best sandwich ever! Add in sweet potato fries and I was in heaven! So then I headed back and walked Fleck, cleaned his stall and kissed him goodnight.

It was odd having an 11:53 ride time Saturday but that was great. It meant I had time to braid, walk XC again, and bathe and even clean my tack! Of course, like it always does... despite getting up at 7 and having plenty of time... I was kept busy and still felt a little rushed. I managed to get Fleck clean and braided and my tack clean and me on at the time I wanted. He warmed up beautifully!!! Like the best he's ever felt!! And it was consistent!! I think we're finally crossing that line in dressage. :) I hope it stays that way! Well, so we worked him for about 45 minutes and I was ready. But they weren't ready for me yet. And then it started to fall apart a bit. The horses running XC were starting to come in and some of them came galloping up to dressage warm up. And at this point Fleck had decided that he had been super good for long enough and it was time to be naughty. Every time a horse came galloping up (about every 2 minutes, only not every horse came all the way to the ring), he would hollow and spook and bolt. So... I couldn't get mad, but it was getting worse and I was having a harder time settling him each time. So we finally just went over to the ring to wait on the buckle. I didn't have to wait too long and in we went. He was still a little tense and of course I got more tense, so it wasn't as pretty as we had. But I still felt like it was a decent test for us. He felt a little claustrophobic again and leaning away from the rail, and jigged through the walk. Argh... no clear transistions there and no real free walk. But the trot and canter felt nice. And when we looked at the pictures... some of our best pictures!! Either Mark is that good, or we really have improved!! We ended up with a 44 something, so that put us 12th out of 20. Which.. for us, and being in an open division, isn't too bad.
So then it was XC time. I think I could have used a little more time warming up. He felt pretty good to me but Beth wanted him much more "Tigger"y because of how the course was. And I couldn't manage to get that. I finally did at the end in the canter, but wasn't necessarily able to fix it over jumps. And then we ran out of time. I really hate going out too after warming up without a breather. I like it better when he can catch his breath and chill for a minute before we go out. But.. oh well. I honestly don't know that I could have gotten him how I wanted him even if I had 15 more minutes. So off we went. He jumped the first half decently. I'm really starting to like that downhill coop in the woods jump! He jumps it so nice. Then he did the corner lovely and I sat up and rode and we jumped the down bank to the bench  beautifully too. YAY!!! The cabin rode fine, but then... maybe I got too carried away because Fleck got a little spazzy. It was some fairly tight turns but Fleck almost slipped out from underneath himself a few times and I couldn't get him settled properly. So we came out of the woods a bit spastic and then I overshot my line... and I saw it a stride out.. it wasn't going to happen. He stopped at the first angled cabin. Drats..... Especially since we had jumped it before... Oh well. So I circled and opted to jump them as separate jumps, which was allowed as they were numbered not lettered. So then we carried on. The trakenher was fine, the coffin was fine, the cabin was fine. Then... duh duh duh.. the big scary tables! We jumped the first one great!!! Probably as best as either of us could have done. He landed a little strung out, but I really think I could have gotten him together. But.. my mind went into overdrive. I debated whether to attempt it or just circle and make sure we didn't die... and making sure we didn't die won out. Now I wish I had attempted it. I think he would have been fine and balanced enough that we would have gotten over it fine and it would have helped my confidence. But at the time... I was thinking we'd already had one stop and time didn't matter.. and although he felt fairly balanced, I sure would hate to jump that thing on the forehand and get another stop or worse. So I circled and he jumped the second one beautifully also. Then onto the chevrons which was a little funky cause he trotted a step or two before. Then towards the water. He was going but then a stride out I felt his left shoulder start to bow out. I gave him a smack and over it we went and then on out and over the paddle. We kinda rolled over the poplar squeeze, but jumped the stone wall well and we were done. So yes.. highly disappointed as I really didn't want anymore stops on XC. The first prelim, sure... the third.. no please!! I'd really like to go clean from now on. After our bobbles when we moved up to training we had something like 13 clean XC runs in a row. I wanted to start that at prelim. But... I was proud that we got through another prelim course and the stop was a pilot error/bad presentation stop, not a naughty or even I can't stop. And I rode well to the down bank to bench, rode the corner well, and then we handled iffy ones well. Though again, I'm disappointed in myself for not riding the double table bendy line downhill as one.
So then Sunday morning was another not quite so early morning, which was nice. Fleck's legs were nice and tight and he was in good spirits. We warmed up and he was jumping pretty good. I got him nice and tiggery! The course was awfully tough as many were having problems. It seemed to be sucking horses back and most were getting chips and having to pat in the extra stride. It just didn't ride real well, though I'm not sure why. It seemed like the lines flowed despite looking tricky. So anyways... Fleck and I went in and started okay. The first oxer wasn't great, but not horrid. Then the second and third jump were fine. Then the fourth fence... I saw the flyer and Fleck saw the wait.. and I flung myself up his neck so he stopped. Duh... he can't jump it from there, especially not when I'm on his head. Oops. So we circled and came again and I waited and it was fine. I guess I may have been a little too "waity" because I got a little left behind or something. I slipped my reins a bit so we got to the two stride in and out a little loose, but I closed my leg and he went like a good boy. Then we came around to the next line... a five stride vertical to an oxer. We jumped in fine.... stride one, two, three, four, five, and stop. What/?!?!? Where did that come from? I didn't feel anything coming and the stride looked fine. The only thing I can think that happened is that I just got a little lazy or complacent, or even a little fatiqued and quit riding. I guess Fleck really needed that little bit of extra support and just quit on me. So... we left (as we had no choice because two stops in stadium at prelim equals elimination). We went back to warm up and jumped two fences great and then I went to go cry.
Beth made me feel better. She explained that at training level you can make a foots worth of mistakes and get through. But at prelim... you can only make an inch worth of mistakes and get by. And we just needed to keep at it and work out a few more little things.She also said that Fleck could have helped me out there and gotten us over that jump. Sometimes he's going to have to help me out.

So yeah.... a huge disappointment, but at the same time.. there were some good parts to it too. And I think part of the stress is that life in general is stressful now, so it's making that seem worse than it is. But like I said... there were some good points and some things I'm proud of from the weekend. So we'll survive. The plan is to do some CT's and fix this sudden new stadium wonkyness. Do some more schooling and get back in the groove. I definitely can't go that long without jumping as much either. And we'll try again and eventually get our four qualifying scores :)

Oh... and Fleck had plenty of fans there too! Apparently he's also known as "The Happy Appy", and we were announced on course as "everyone's favorite appy", and.. a group of kids watching XC were all excited when we were coming through. :) So yay... I just wish that not only could he be the happy appy... but that he could be the happy appy that is awesome at prelim too! I know he's awesome... I want everyone else to know it too. But if I keep riding like crap and messing it up.... no one will ever know how amazing he is.