Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Proven Prelim Pony!!!!

Not a bad weekend at all!!!

Fleck and I got headed out for Windridge fairly quickly after I got home from work. But then we got stuck in traffic. I was about to scream... between the traffic lights, the slow pokes, the construction... argh!! It felt like we were hauling longer to get to 85 than we were on 85. Which was so not the case. But finally, we were on 85 and moving! We arrived at Windridge and got settled in. Fleck got a nice end stall, which was convenient because I had a plug for his fan. The weather was perfect all weekend long!!! It's such a gorgeous place there! So we got settled in and hopped on for some dressage with Beth. 

I started with some stretching and then we picked him up and went to work. He felt pretty darn good. Even our canter was nice. I told Beth that I was blocking him somewhere and she said to sit a little lighter. I was getting a little too rigid and driving with my seat. And sure enough, it helped a lot! I also had to make sure that I was not throwing away the inside rein. The inside rein helps keep the bend. I was afraid of holding too much with the outside rein and creating a counter bend, but if I didn't hold the outside rein, he'd fall in and I lose his shoulders. So Beth was like.. duh, use BOTH reins.. oh yeah!! Ha ha... If I hold the outside rein connection but also add inside rein, he comes around quite nicely. Yay! Then we worked on the free walk to the medium walk. INSIDE BEND!!! That was the theme of the day in general. When I walked across the diagonal for my free walk, I need to let him out, but then start to leg yield him subtly to the wall before I pick him up. As I'm picking him up, I really need to focus on the inside bend and inside rein to keep him from bracing/inverting/jigging. It really does help. Then he's nice and connected. And I need to remember that my medium walk needs to be the same walk that I have when I'm about to ask for the canter - ie... animated! So we quit with that and Fleck got his bath and was braided. We grazed some and let the horses get used to the peacock noise. Yes.. there are peacocks there and they make a weird noise. The horses were a little worried but not too bad. 

Saturday morning was an EARLY morning. Luckily I had already braided so that helped. But our dressage ride was at 8:07! Fleck was actually really clean so I only had to spot clean three little areas and his braids looked great. So we were on time and even a little early. We got down to warm up and started warming up. He felt great! Beth wanted me to think of riding him behind the vertical. Only because then I ride him correctly. It feels behind the vertical to me but it's actually a true correct frame. She also said that when I counter cantered... to almost counter bend him. For whatever reason that works best for Fleck. If I don't, he tips his nose and isn't in the reins. But when I almost counter bend him, he actually gets straight and gives me the most lovely counter canter. Whee!  Then it was our turn. It wasn't our best test, but not too bad. Especially since we hadn't ridden it in a long time and then only once or twice schooling recently. We started out okay but it wasn't great. I didn't have him up into the bridle enough so he cheated a little. He was awfully haunches in too, though at the time I don't think I realized it. He had a lovely first counter canter but on the second one... it was so lovely that I must have over did it because he swapped on me. I tried to correct it and did, but then it was two strides before we were supposed to trot, so it was ugly. Then I got a little flustered so we kind of went downhill from there. But again, not horrid.. just not good. We ended with a 38.3 I think and were in 7th place out of 11. Argh. Oh well. My fault for not preparing better. And I'm spoiled now after that 31.8 ;) 

After helping Beth and Stephanie and watching them go it was time for stadium. The course looked super fun but was TOUGH! It was almost in a little bowl... so lots of terrain and some really tough questions. It was an uphill oxer to a vertical, roll back to another uphill oxer, right hand turn on a slant/slope to a vertical, then downhill to a triple bar, then to an upshill two stride, then a roll back to a bendy line of a skinny to an oxer, then roll back to the triple combo, then another vertical. I was bound and determined to not have any stops. Oops! We warmed up pretty good and I felt like I almost did it right on course. We started out pretty gung ho and forward and were only slightly chippy to the first two fences. I think the "long" distances are starting to scare me so I take my leg off and hold so Fleck adds. They aren't necessarily tight spots but he loses power so they aren't smooth. So the first three went okay. Then we got to fence four and I buried him. He was so deep that Beth said in order to jump he would have had to go backwards. Doh!! Darn it me!!! So we circled and I gave him a horrible awkard approach but kept my leg on and supported him and he jumped it. Sigh... Then we got our act together and jumped the triple bar quite nice. I got a little frantic and long to the double and he chipped but cleared it and then the rest of the course was pretty nice. He nailed the triple! Sigh... so one stop. No time though. ;) But I really need to get my act together. I think some jumper shows are in our future this Summer. I need to get better with the "longer" spots again. He does not like to get that deep to the bigger jumps when I don't help him any.

So we enjoyed the rest of the day helping the others and then walked XC. It looked like a really fun and doable course.. until about half way through. Ha!! There was a decent sized trakenher that wasn't bad at all.. but on a downhill approach. It made me a bit nervous but I knew we could do it. Then a huge wide table, but I ignored the wide and figured it would be fine. But then.. it got scary! A sharp 90 degree turn to the biggest steeplechase fence ever!! It was very upright and very big AND.... on the back side was a three or four stride bendy line to a very big very skinny hanging log. Okay...THIS was going to be a test for me and Fleck. I just didn't like how vertical it was. Then it was along the hill parallel to the drop to a skinny and then another cabin, then the water, then an upbank to a skinny and then a hanging log and done. The course was long and gallopy but so pretty! I was smart this time and scoped out ALL the short cuts!! Including cutting across the field and going over some moguls. :) But I was still pretty nervous!!! eeeks. 

Sunday morning was an early morning too as my ride time was 8:32. Luckily, not quite as early. Fleck felt good and we went for a little walk and studded up and tacked up. We warmed up and he felt great. Rarin' to go with plenty of energy. We roared out of the start box and were off. The theme of the course was "BURN RUBBER!, Let it BURN!" So we were off at the gallop. The first three or four fences were a bit sticky in that I was still holding a bit, but I figured it out and we started to gallop them properly. The coffin rode fine and then we headed to the corner. I knew I had to go outside for the right line but in our gallop we went a little farther outside (after almost running into a tree while I was deciding!). So... we ended up about 4 strides from the corner but VERY diagonal to it. Eeeks.. I thought about circling to get a better approach but then decided no.. we would just get it done. And Fleck locked on and despite a less than stellar approach, he owned it. yay!!! Then we galloped down past the lake, up to the rest of the course. He was jumping great now! We stumbled our way through the moguls but managed to keep our balance and got the pheasant feeder done. Then we came downhill to the trakenher. I think I over balanced and checked too much because Fleck really backed off. But I felt it and said 'No... I mean balance but go" and put my leg on and he went. Yay!! Then we flew over the wide cabin, sat back and balanced and NAILED THE STEEPLECHASE!!! Whoo hooo. He flew over it with room to spare and we just sailed over the skinny with an opening rein. I LOVE THIS HORSE!!! Then we overshot our turn a bit to the drop but he trotted a few strides and crossed back to it, plopped down and smooth as silk jumped the out. The rest of the course was perfect and we made it over the finish line a second or two under optimum without having to rush for it at the end. I was soooooo proud of him!!!!

What a rock star!!!! We ended up finishing with just the four points for the stadium stop and moved up to 5th place. Because of our cruddy dressage score, even without the stop, we wouldn't have moved up any. So whooo hoooo!!! I'll take 5th out of 11 at prelim. :) It's official now.. he is officially a proven prelim horse!!! The problems we were having were all my fault and/or knee pains. And now that he feels good again.. he's golden. The stadium issues are all mine.

So proud of my rockstar!!!!!