Basically, I never had time to grieve for Willow because it was Wednesday morning when I put her down. Then I rode and went to work. And work was busy both Wednesday and Thursday. So then Friday morning when I got off, I was exhausted. Emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted! And in a foul mood too. I was so tired and just wanted a nap but still had a lot of packing to do before leaving for Pine Top. I ended up trying to clip Fleck while I was waiting on Roany to finish eating. He was good and was stnading there quietly, not even haltered. Danny was being a pest - putting his head on my head, chewing on my hat, and basically just being a "nosy neighbor". And it was fine, except my clipper blades were so dull they weren't clipping. And then the cord wouldn't reach Fleck's hind legs. And I just had enough. I was so frustrated I was about to strangle something or just sit down and cry my eyes out. Luckily, Fleck knew. And that horse just stood patiently like a rock. He basically told me "it's okay Momma.... it's gonna be okay. I'm just going to stand her patiently while you get this figured out and get me clipped... and it's gonna be fine!". So I did. I finished clipping him without losing my cool and went in and cried myself to sleep. After a short nap, I felt better. I finished packing and even helped Mike set up the cable box downstairs. Then it was finally time to leave and I walked out to get Fleck. Josh had set up a leaf pile to burn and I happened to park the trailer right next to it. So... there was a ton of smoke drifting right at the trailer! Poor Fleck... he snorted and was like.. yeah, no thanks! But with just a little bit of encouragement, he followed me in the trailer and stayed put while I got the butt bar up. Oh how I love that he trusts me to do that! We don't let each other down. We just trust each other to make sure everything is going to be okay.
So we got on our way and made it to Pine Top. We had stalls watching the dressage arenas which was nice. Fleck managed to open his door in the 10 seconds it took me to walk back to the trailer to get his water buckets. Ha! But I managed to tie him in and he stayed put all weekend. We got on and had a great dressage school with Beth. She said she could see a difference in him and our work since we've been riding with Sandy. Yay! She also said he looked fitter. Yay!! (I was afraid he was bordering on a bit too thin but figured it was not quite too thin yet). We basically worked on getting him round and supple. Beth said not to worry about blocking him with my inside hand. She said it was more important to focus on my legs and driving him into the rein. She said that he likes a lot of connection so I was to have an equal connection with both reins. I need to not drop him, even on the inside rein. Keep that connection and ride him like in my stadium ride last week. Supple him with little finger tweaks, not big moves. I need to keep my elbows bent and at my sides. And I really need to close my leg more, especially as I'm half halting. So we had a great ride. He felt really really good. At this point I started to get a headache. So we got them situated and walked stadium. The stadium course looked SUPER fun!! Like a really fun course. So then we went to Mexican for dinner and at this point I was feeling really awful. I broke down and got a Dr. Pepper to drink thinking that the caffeine might help. I had given it up for Lent and really hated to do it, but I was miserable. I prayed that God would forgive me and drank up. It really did help.. for a little bit. Then I just felt miserable again. So we went back to the barn and took care of the ponies (braided and tucked in) and then went to the hotel. I managed a quick shower and went to bed. Unfortunately as Hannah was finishing up in the bathroom...I started to get queasy. I ended up kicking her out and puking my cheese dip and bean burrito up. Ugh.. it was nasty!! And I still felt miserable. I sucked down some ZZZquil and passed out. I think I actually got more sleep that night than I had in 3 weeks! I woke up feeling much better but just .... done. Really, just with no energy, no positivity, no nothing... I was awake, I wasn't ill, but that was about it.
I got Fleck fed and cleaned and tacked up. I started feeling more like myself and we had a pretty good warm up ride! I need to have more flexion in my leg yields, and especially yielding left I need to keep my left leg back a bit to keep his haunches from flinging out. And in our lengthens I need to really keep that connection and push. In all the movements, I really need to think about suppling the jaw. But it was a good warm up. So then I headed in to the ring and waited for the bell. Once it rang, I trotted in and posted down centerline and turned left. "Tinkle, tinkle... all trot work must be performed sitting unless otherwise stated"... Doh!!! I don't know what I was thinking... except that I wasn't I guess. I don't know if I was just thinking that it was changed and it could be posting... or if I was just thinking he was going to go better if I trotted.... I don't know. I apologized and she told me to just carry on from there. Ugh... So now I'm in the corner, about to turn down the rail and do a 10 meter circle. Ugh.. No time to prep. So of course, the whole test kind of sucked. I never really got him on the aids. And maybe it wouldn't have mattered. Maybe he wasn't on the aids coming down centerline either, but... I felt like it messed me up. Of course I kept trying to get back and quit worrying about it. So who knows?! But it wasn't our best test at all.
After I finished I tried not to despair. I only had about an hour before stadium so I untacked and gave him a little breather. Then I had a talk with myself. I was starting to wallow again and I decided that I had two options. I could be a poophead and continue on with my "woe is me, this weekend isn't meant to be" thoughts... or I could change my attitude and go out and kick that show jumping course's butt!! I decided on plan B and told Fleck that we were gonna go have some fun! I even managed to eat a few almonds and have a little bit to drink. I got tacked up and we hit the warm up ring. And holy smokes!!! Fleck heard me!!! He turned into a fire breathing dragon! We were "that girl and that horse" in the warm up ring for a bit. He was bolting and bucking and bouncing! I almost ran some lady over... Wild man! But it made me giggle. It was just what I needed. He felt great. So we got some good warm up jumping in and we were ready! We charged in and owned that course!! It was awesome. I rode well and he jumped better! We only had two little issues. I got in a little odd to the one stride on the slightly downhill approach. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong but Fleck jumped the stink out of it! He popped me out of the tack and I was a little afraid I was not going to still be on him over the second jump. But I was! We landed and carried on and he flew over the triple bar. I didn't settle him quite enough to the uphill vertical, so he knocked that one but not enough and it stayed in the cups. Yay! So clean round!!! I was so proud. As was he! We even had three different people (one being Lynn Coates-Holmes, who doesn't hand out compliments very often apparently) tell us how great of a round it was. :) :) So proud of the super pony. So then I saw that I was in third place. Out of five. ;) But we may have been first had I not posted because we had a 40 and the first place girl only had a 38.2. I enjoyed the rest of the day and took Fleck out for a few grazes. We went for dinner and came back and wrapped and went on another walk. The moon was out and it was gorgeous!
Another good night of sleep and we woke up to rain. Rain, rain, and more rain. Ugh... it was gross. I was tempted to scratch just because it was so nasty and I was a little afraid of the what ifs. What if Fleck stumbled and hurt himself? What if....?? But I was being silly. The footing held up fantastic and I was one of the first few riders on the training track. The last prelim rider said the footing was holding up and to just be careful on the turns. So no excuses. Honestly, the worst part was getting tacked up and on. The anticipation of the cold and wet. It really wasn't so bad once you were on. I did have to laugh at Fleck though. I got on under the barn roof and tried to get him to walk out. He didn't like the rain drops coming off the roof and was trying to avoid it by going sideways down the barn aisle. Hee hee. But once we were out in it, he was all heart. We warmed up and he felt great!! I got that good canter, got his jaw supple, and he was jumping awesomely. Finally it was our turn and we were off! He shot out like a rocket and rocked to the first jump. And then it was just peachy! He was galloping!!!! Like, there was no slowing him down, galloping! We jumped everything out of stride and beautifully. He jumped up the first bank and landed in the trot, but quickly picked up the canter to canter down the hill and over the jump. Then we galloped through the woods and as we came out, I totally got bitchslapped right in the face by a tree branch! Full face! Hee hee... I was cracking up and we jumped the giant honkin' table like it was nothing. He sailed over the tractors, the trakenher, and the corner like they were nothing. We also sailed over the angled coops easy peasy. Then it was on the the fun roller coaster up bank combo. He jumped right up, sailed over the log in one single stride like it walked, and it was smooth sailing over the C roll top and then over the next fence. We flew over the skinnies and then headed to the final water. They were using a dump truck to dump gravel in front and Fleck saw it and spooked!! No... forward pony... to the jump! He was going and he was game but he was concentrating on the dump truck to the right of the jump. I had to tell him to concentrate on the jump itself, but he was fine. And then we big boy jumped into the water, sailed out and over the crocodile, and through the final picture frame jump and the finish flags!! I had no idea on time because I hit the wrong button and my watch didn't start, but we went double clear! Whooo hooo!!!! SO MUCH FUN!!! He was so game and happy. As we finished the bank complex (the tough one) I was giggling and telling him "F this crap...we're ready for prelim... we don't need no stinkin' training level anymore". hee hee.. Love this guy!
By the time we got back to the barn, he was breathing normally and ready to eat. I got him all squared away and pampered and then watched friends. Then I checked scores and found out... we moved up to first!!! Whooo hooo!!! Go Flecky boy! It was a great weekend after all and I'm glad I didn't let myself talk myself into a sorrow. Fleck always knows how to cheer me up.