Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cross Country Day!!

Despite the tons and tons of rain, todays course rode great for many including me and Zara! She warmed great and confident in the footing with some nice big studs borrowed from friend & neighbor for the weekend Jessica Bortner-Harris. The first few fences rode great, building confidence as we made our way around. The early water was a good first challenge, followed by the table to corner challenge at #7. We handled them in perfect stride! The next few questions were also well handled, with a confident jump through the road by the vendor area and a great step through the giant drop down, 5 to the table and 5 straight to the corner. Jump #12 was the first "breather" fence on the course, so I relaxed a bit since we'd been going through tough combinations -- big and nearly disastrous mistake. Zara and I took a bad spot to #12, the fish jump, where she hit pretty hard in front, and her back end caught up very quickly. She was nearly knees to the ground before she managed to pick herself up, and I was luckily right where I had to be, in balance and out of her way. She picked herself up quickly and went back to gallop. I was very worried, so pulled her up to trot a few meters to check her soundness. After making sure she felt good, we continued on course to the tough skinny bending tables. We didn't ride quite according to plan, as my eye was a bit off between our earlier incident, along with the stadium jumps that were now set up that were not there when I walked at 5pm the night before. We ended up riding an alternative route that I had walk that was a 5 stride line taking a decent angle to the second table. Following this question were a few gallop fences before the next big set of challenges. First up at #16AB was the double brush, which she did foot-perfect. next, the sunken road. We rode exactly where planned on my walk with Sally, and had a great go there as well. Following that was the big ducks water. Zara decided she was taking a longer spot than I was interested in, and we got over the duck and I sat up and pushed her with wide hands to stay on the line and make it through the tough 3 strides with the hill, over the brush, and 2 strides down to the other sharply angled brush - She was a super star! On the next gallop, I felt her lagging a bit, so after the big ditch and brush we eased up our pace a bit and focused more on safety and not missing any more distances. The issues on # 12 were too close for comfort! She jumped through the table to chevron question at #20 brilliantly, bumped the next table a bit before preparing for the water. I can definitely feel her lag now, and gave her a good strong push to and through the water to make the four strides and get to the skinny. She caught a bit of a second wind after the water, and got a great step to the big red table, pretty good step to the second to last, and a nearly cantering spot to the last. She took a bit extra to cool out, but I learned later that we came in under time, which was a great feeling. She recovered well once we got her temperature down, and will hopefully be feeling OK for the jog and stadium tomorrow. We will see and hope!! I'm so very proud of her for keeping it going even though I know she was very tired, and giving me her very best.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Days 1 & 2 at Fairhill International!!!

Well we have successfully gotten through our first jog out and dressage in our first CCI**! For the jog on Wednesday, of course it was raining. We got spic and span with the help of my wonderful grooms for the weekend, Mark Shuck and Jeannette Lazzaro. Zara and I passed with no questions and she was very cooperative. I even kept up well in my heels!
Day two was dressage day for Zara and I, which is always our most stressful phase. We spent lots of time getting her primped and beautiful, tacked up in her dressage saddle and jump bridle and headed out to warm up -- AKA, hacking around the horse trials cross country course. Zara and I worked to get a longer and lower frame while still going forward out in the fields and on the driveway. With about a half hour to my ride, we returned to the barns since I was dressed in my schooling clothes still to keep everything tidy. Zara was re-polished as I changed (in our sopping wet tack room!) into my tails and dress boots. We headed out to the ring a little late, but luckily they were running a bit delayed. Zara and I continued our warm up in the practice ring, working on some light trot work, as well as canter transitions. We entered the ring a tiny bit more tense than our warm up, but went through with a smile! Zara gave me great trot work with a steady connection, good trot-walk-canter transitions and despite anticipating her right lead transition a bit through her turn on the haunches gave me fabulous right lead canter! Unfortunately, she still shows some tension through her movements, so we were scored a 72.2 gaining us a low spot on the list. But that's OK for our first one, and we're definitely improving!!
Now we get a nice day of less stress to include a course walk with the wonderful Sally Cousins, as well as a light jump lesson. Looking forward to cross country day!