Thursday, August 8, 2013

XC schooling

Well..... I wish I could say it went swimmingly well and we're ready for AECs. But... it wasn't that great. It wasn't horrid. And perhaps more of it had to do with a minimal warm up, lack of coaching, and me being tired. But... I wish it had gone better. We hauled to Full Gallop as I had a free school for volunteering and we were heading to that area anyway to help out a friend. And I wanted to give that ditch and wall the evil eye. ;) We got there and put Fleck in a paddock while I helped a friend and then it was my turn to ride. It was 3 pm and it was hot and humid. Sure, not as bad as it could have been for August in SC, but still hot and humid. I got on and did a short warm up. I decided not to do too much as he had been in the paddock cruising around and it was hot. We jumped a jump or two and then I gave myself a small course. And it was a decent sized small course. I warmed up over a BN coop, a novice table and then a training house. He wasn't phenomenal - just a little pecky to them and not really going forward but by the training house he was in better gear. We took a breather and started our course. It was the training table, then the big fairly impressive prelim table, to the prelim brush and then we went to the up bank, ditch, bank down combo. I had planned to then come around and do the brush backwards (flagged for both) and then do an s curve to the angled roll tops (which were the scary ones at the last show.. much less scary without the brush!) to the tractor. Which may have been prelim but may have been intermediate. If it was intermediate it was an EASY intermediate. I jumped the novice coop one last time to get him rocked back and bouncy and then we did our course. We started out fine and he nailed the brush fence. However, I got towards the bank and felt his shoulder darting out. I knew it wasn't a good approach and tried to fix it and I managed to get him up the bank but he stopped at the ditch. Drats.. We circled and came again and I got him over the whole complex but it wasn't pretty. I kept getting ahead of him and my feet kept sliding back. So we attempted it a third time and I finally got it accomplished fairly well. I let him have a breather and then we did the training/prelim roll top and came straight to the bank combo and NAILED it this time!! I had great landing gear and he went up and over happily. So then we turned and did the brush backwards, which was awesome! I saw that one 3 strides back and we rocked and rolled. Then he jumped the tractor. Mostly. ;) The line was a bit more angled/bent that I thought and so my approach was horrid. It was a very bad mommy moment as I put him at it at a fair angle and it's a pretty wide tractor. Bless his heart.. he went, but he had to drift hard left to avoid landing on it or something so we would have taken out a flag. Doh! We circled and came again at a much better line and better canter and it was good. 
Then we went to do the training level trakenher and went to the regular ditch first. And he was just sticky to it...shoulders popping in and out but he went. I don't know if I was overdoing the half halt as it was on a slight downhill or what. We came again and it was a little better. It was the same ride to the trakenher though much better the second time. We then moved on to the water. I was smart and a good girl and we did the drop in to the up bank out, then the skinny training level drop in and then up the mound out and then the skinny prelim drop. The first time wasn't pretty. He did his patented Flecky pitter patter step and kinda rolled in. He didn't pick his shoulders up. So the second attempt I thought I should make him be braver and go a little more bold at it. Yep... that didn't work. It was a little scary. He got to a better distance but had to twist over it. Probably not fun for Peri who was watching. So then she suggested that perhaps he needed a more collected canter, not bolder. And I think that I knew that and knew that he needed to be more rocked back and on his butt and more powerful but I sort of sacrificed that for more bold. And achieved bold through bigger stride rather than more powerful packaged stride. So when I rode it thinking package instead of bold... it was actually quite nice. He didn't pat the ground, picked up his knees, jumping boldly enough in, and we didn't scare anyone. Yay! Success.
 We then headed down to the other water so I could just look at the ditch and wall. At this point we realized he had pulled a hind shoe, so I figured I'd just cool him off. And yep.. ditch and wall still looks terrifying! Apparently to Fleck too. I decided that perhaps I should jump him over the trakenher next to it, since he spooked at it last time and bolted out for the run out. So we headed over the ditch and again, he was sticky to the ditch. I turned him around and did it again and got a nice jump and then we headed to the trakenher. From the get go I was fighting his shoulders. What?!?! That jump really didn't bother me. Yes, the ditch and wall right next to it did, but not that jump. I'm not sure if Fleck was spooking at the ditch and wall or what but of course we came to it crooked, bent, and behind the leg so he stopped. I smacked him and we came again and I worked VERY hard to keep him straight. And we jumped it but it certainly was a fight to get him to it. Really?! So we came again and while it was much nicer I still had to ride VERY hard to keep him from blowing out that left shoulder. We finished over the hanging log afterwards and he jumped that nicely. Even moved up to the long spot. 

So... while he was good.. he wasn't great. And it wasn't a very confidence inspiring ride for me. I'm feeling a little blue about it quite frankly. There was too many issues for me to feel confident going to the AECs. So I think have changed my mind YET AGAIN and decided that I need to run him there in a week and a half for a run before Texas. I'll run him P/T (or maybe even training to practice that test... I hate that I won't get to do the prelim stadium and I really really really hate Training Test B, but... argh.. I don't know). I'm just frustrated. He's been feeling so good and now suddenly... this.?! And maybe it's my fault for the earlier mentioned reasons. I wasn't on my game either and didn't really prepare him as well as I could have. I'm sure I wasn't riding as well as I should have either. But.. I guess I'll spend the money and run and get ourselves back in the game before Texas. 

Argh... now to decide whether to do P/T or just T. And deal with the frustrated husband. And the lack of sleep. 

But you know what?! It's still a fun show! I'm sure we'll get back in gear and have a blast. And maybe, just maybe... I'll wish we had gone ahead and run prelim. Ha!! Not if that ditch and wall is on course. ;)

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