Sunday was a very early morning in Chestertown, with a departure from my dorm by 4:00 and a departure from the barn at 5:00. Despite some complications, we managed to leave only 10 minutes late and arrive early! After setting things up, and pulling Zara out of the trailer for some pampering, she proceeded to angrily paw and gnaw on my trailer. Lovely mare. As we got ready, she was super antsy and dancing around while we tacked up, tried to escape as we put the bridle on, etc. And then we got on, and shes still grumpy and uncomfortable, and even gave me a few little bucks! Unusual... We headed down to warm up, aiming to just work on getting her relaxed when I noticed a horse in my ring doing a free walk along a diagonal that I do not do my free walk on.... Or so I thought. Through a nearby rider warming up, I discovered that to my surprise, we are riding preliminary test B today, which I have not done since Rubicon in November. learned the test quickly and proceeded to try for relaxation out of the mare with little luck. We warmed up on many straight lines and soft turns to keep her happy, but the twisty, turney test left us appearing completely unprepared for preliminary level that morning.
Disgruntled from our poor test after we have put blood, sweat and tears...literally... into our dressage problems. I seriously considered withdrawing and stomped, and by stomped I mean rode the little motorcycle, up to the stadium to discover I had missed the walking period, and there was not another for quite a while, aka until after my rides. I watched for a while, learning the course and cooling down from our dressage disaster. Upon learning the course and seeing that it was nicely flowing, I decided I would see how Zara warmed up in my jump saddle and then determine whether or not to continue. We got ready as if we were going xc also, studs and all, and headed to warm up. Although I didn't really think I would be doing either jump phase since something just seemed very off with her today -- and she shouldn't be in cycle because shes two weeks out of her 3 week Depo injections.
Zara warmed up for jumping well, with one rubbed rail, but still more resistance than normal. She was definitely happier in the jump saddle than earlier, even for working on the bit during warm up. We decided to go ahead and do stadium, but withdraw from cross country unless it felt absolutely perfect. Zara and I went through the course very well and relaxed, even on (a little too much of a) loose rein through the triple at the end. We pulled the last rail, which took a good 6 seconds to clunk after I had gone past and circled about to leave the arena it falls. Really?? Even though we had a successful, nice feeling round, I decided to still withdraw from the cross country. Better safe than sorry, and sticking to my gut feeling seemed right. After that dressage score and rail, it's not like we would have been in the ribbons anyways. Oh well, saved for another day.
Upon returning home, Zara definitely seemed uncomfortable through her back, especially where my seat bones would be in my dressage saddle. I knew the saddle didn't fit her quite right, but have used pads to compensate until I could get the saddle properly fitted in the Summer. I'm thinking Zara was simply fed up with whatever discomfort my saddle was giving her, and said &^%# you, I'm not working in that! So now we begin a new challenge: learning to ride good dressage in my jump saddle, or find a saddle to borrow or rent for a few months.