Monday, May 10, 2010

A HOT Day at the MCTA Horse Trials

Due to our recent troubles with dressage in the past few events, I decided that it would be better off for all of us if I switched my original entry for MCTA with Zara to Zoomer. The decision ended up being a very good one! After multiple washes and the chaos of going home the night before, Zoomer was clean and well braided in the morning before the event. The day started out chilly, but quickly grew to nearly 90 degrees be the time I rode around 1. We had a great warmup for dressage, moving nicely through, perfectly round and well balanced in transitions. We went through the test a little more tense than usual, which I thought would be a damper on our score, but luckily, our tension must not have shown through as much as I thought it would. We ended up 6th of 21 with a dressage score of 30.9, just a few tenths of a point shy of the 2nd place score of 29.6. With scores so close together, I knew that it would be a close finish after the jumping phases.
Our stadium warm up went as usual, with a nice, forward strides to each warm up fence. Unfortunately, due to a lack of organization, riders were not riding at their times, leading to a lot of standing around. We waited probably a half hour after our original 15 minutes we set out for warm up, in the brutal heat. Many riders were disgruntled, but we all tried to wait patiently for our turns to ride. Many rails came down, and even a few stops and a fall happened during our wait, and when it was finally our turn, Zoomer performed very well, but not with the precision he normally has. We ended up rubbing a few rails, and with luck, only one came down, adding 4 points to our score. We moved on to cross country, getting some good walking time in between to help with the heat, and headed out on course. As usual, Zoomer was a stellar competitor in the cross country phase. He jumped every fence beautifully, in stride, and very carefully. He tactfully negotiated the fences that may cause complications for training level horses and riders, including the short two strides between the stone boxes, the water, the trakehner and a few others. I allowed him to choose his own pace through the course, since he may have been tired from the hot day but he proved otherwise. We went at a comfortable speed around the course, slowing down for the more challenging fences, and came in almost a full minute early. We made a large circle at the canter between fences 17 and 18 to delay time, which I should have kept better track of, but at least he proved to me that he is prepared to move back to preliminary level.
After the long, hot day, we ended up in 5th place, at a score of 34.9. Overall, I am very happy with Zoomer's performance at this event -- I am not too worried about the rail, as both the horse and myself were a little frazzled from the timing. Hopefully well be more together for the next time and keep our connection throughout the stadium course as well as the dressage test. I did notice that had we not pulled that one rail, we would have been a very close 2nd place!
With one weekend off to move back into home from college, we continue our eventing the next weekend at FairHill. Zara will be going training level on Saturday, hopefully we have imporved some of our skills for the dressage test; we have been working heavily on acheiving the relaxation and lowered poll that will earn us better scores in training level tests. In the meantime, she will no longer be wearing my dressage saddle, which seems to be pinching her and she had a few stray chunks of wolf tooth removed from her left side. With these factors removed, we hope to have much more effetive training sessions. Zoomer will be going preliminary level on Sunday, the first time in over 7 months since his injury. We feel very prepared for all phases, although we have not yet practiced the new 2010 prelim dressage tests. We better get on that!

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