Well damn... just damn... Sigh.
So we hauled to Stableview Friday night and got there to get in a ride and walk courses and give Fleck a bath. Darn... that place is impressive! We had a pretty good dressage school working on our lengthens and collections and since he was so good, we kept it short. He got a bath and we walked the course for XC. I was a little bummed I wasn't running prelim in some ways, but the training course was fun looking! In fact, (admittedly it's much easier to say than actually do!) the training course almost looked harder and more technical than the prelim course. But the prelim course did have an impressive sunken road and bigger tables. But for each level, the jumps were really wide!
We then hauled back to Full Gallop where the ponies stayed overnight. Fleck was very happy to be out in the field moving around, so I left him out.
Because they were running ALL of each level as one division, I actually didn't ride til 10 ish. It was rather nice. We still got up early and hauled over so we could cheer on friends. And I had to braid. Poor Fleck was wonderful and stayed tied to the trailer like a champ all day.
We got ready for dressage and went and warmed up. He warmed up quite well but then the last 10 minutes he got really pissy. I think I went just a bit too long. But oh well. I managed to get him back in front of my leg and we headed in. Of course, for the first time ever, he poops the entire way down center line!! I was squeezing so hard to keep him trotting because he usually walks or halts when he poops. But we went on to have a fairly nice test. I thought it was actually quite nice for that test!! I hate that test, but he was about as good as he is in any other test. So yay. I was pleased. And I think Beth was pleased too. I lost it at my second canter circle and let him get a little flat, but she said the first half of my test was the best she's seen. Apparently she was right, because HOLY CRUD!!! We were 14th out of 40! And you know... so what? That's top half, but still! To beat THAT many people... we can be in the top half when there is like 12. ;) I was so proud. Especially for that particular test. :) (Although the pictures aren't that great... so maybe the judge just particularly liked us for some weird reason??)
Anyways, so next was XC. Well, the pressure was on a little bit because I could actually have moved up into the ribbons, and thus the money. That really never happens to us! And the course was riding tough. There were lots of problems in prelim. The first corner of the course was proving to be very spooky.
And sure enough... it was spooky for us too. Sigh... I really don't know what happened. We warmed up and I felt like we were doing okay. We walked over to start and he was super chill and almost sleepy. I got a little worried.... come on bud! It's XC! Show some spunk! And then as soon as the start man starting with "10, 9, 8...." Fleck literally went from half asleep to leaping into the air and dancing! Yay... there's my beast! And off we went. The first few fences were small and skinny but not that bad. I thought I was riding him balanced and rocked back but apparently not. He had fresh pour in pads and no studs up front and he slipped hard core at the first two fences. I could actually feel his front end slide a foot at one of them. But we kept on and then... at the fourth fence, which was a BIG table... he stopped/ran out at the corner of it. It wasn't his typical stop. I didn't feel it coming... I didn't lose his shoulder. He sort of half attempted to jump around it. Which makes me think that he was slipping and changed his mind when he saw how big it was. But I don't even know anymore. So we circled and he jumped it just fine the second time but then was real sticky up the small bank and over and then down and over the skinny after. Not usual for him. And they were small. So we kept on and he perked back up and started jumping like his normal self. We got most of the way around and headed up to the water. I admit that I was a little worried about the water. He jumped the giant brush table just fine. And he jumped the angled line just fine. But I was worried about the water. It was a small open coop and then two strides to a small log into the water. The water was actually two lakes with a land bridge between. I opted to ride the tougher tighter line and go inside the tree to hit the cabin out. Well, we cantered up and over the coop and then stopped at the edge. Sigh... dammit. :( A friend was jump judging and said I basically just lalala-ed up to it and let him stop. Perhaps.. I definitely wasn't GRRRing at it. So we circled and trotted it and he was real sticky but went, landing in a heap. But we did our tight turn and got out and carried on our way, finishing well over the trakenher and the next few fences.
So poop.... out of the money, out of the ribbons. And disappointed and worried. Beth said she thought it was him just not feeling like he had to. She told me he would be a much harder ride than I was used to since he "got away with quitting" the last three rides. I kind of think the footing was bothering him and while he wasn't sore enough to not jump, the slipping and sliding worried him. I don't honestly know. Most likely I wasn't riding well enough. So we were a little disheartened, especially when a well meaning friend came up right after asking "Do you think it's his knees?". Argh... I don't... not in the sense that he's hurting. Otherwise, I wouldn't be out there. I think he was nervous with the sliding, but that's a little bit different. At least in my mind.
But we hung around and iced Fleck and I told him he was amazing and a good boy. And we cheered everyone else on. Then we went back to full gallop, poultice and left him out again all night.
The next morning was another not so early morning, so we loaded up and headed back to Stable view. The course looked fun. It was in a HUGE arena but they had warm up alongside it. I didn't think it would bother Fleck. He's not really spooky. So we finally got to go and he was LOVELY! It was a gorgeous almost foot perfect round for us both! I was with him and we were on the same page and flowing. It was a good way to end the weekend. :)
So... I don't know what to do next. I'm a little bit at a loss. I really don't want to keep pushing him if he is sore, but I really think he wants to keep doing it. I'm wondering if I just have to accept that some days will be bad days and some will be good and if the bad days happen to fall on a show day... that's the risk I take. And to either stop putting in pour in pads or start studding up front!
Either way... I've still got my amazing horse who I adore and we'll still have fun.