Monday, February 13, 2012
So last Friday, after over a month of preparation down here in Aiken with Sally Cousins, Zara and I went to our first event of the season! It was a super early morning, pulling out around 5:00 to head over to Thomson, GA. Zara was braided and bundled up ready to go after feeding around 4:15. Having never been to Pine Top, I did pass the entrance once, but then parked and got situated, as only the 2nd trailer there, in the dark. Unfortunately despite my early arrival, I still managed to run a little late in getting everything including myself prepared for our dressage test at about 8:25. I lunged Zara, but not quite as long as she really needs to be relaxed. Then, upon stopping at my trailer to put my spurs on and get on, my dress boot (which has been worn a grand total of about 6 times and shown in only once at dressage at fairhill) BROKE!! The zipper broke right off.... So in a slight panic, I scrambled to find my other field boots and got them cleaned up enough to be acceptable. I got on, and after going about 50 feet realized I forgot my bridle number. Went back and got off to get it on her, got back on, and headed over to warm up. Zara was fairly well behaved in the warm up, and we went into the ring more tense than I would have liked, but did quite a decent, consistent test right up until the final canter work where we had a little tiff over the tight turn to the center line on the right lead. We scored a 44, putting us at the end of the pack, but not last. Happy to have that over with, I went on to walk some of my xc and look at the stadium course. Unfortunately I just missed the walking time. We geared up and headed over to stadium, where Zara was a bit hectic and piggish in the warm up. Our round was similar, with 2 rails due mostly to her unsteadiness -- and normally I blame the rails on myself!! We went on to walk the xc with Sally and some other students of hers to find a long, bold and big but fair course for a solid intermediate. After waiting a while for my 3:30ish ride time to come near, we tacked up and headed over. I was sure to not overdo it for Zara in the warm up, as lots of canter or gallop before her ride can make her a bit fussy with me. Unfortunately, maybe she could have used up a little more energy on warm up, as she went out to fence one VERY strong. I love having a horse that loves to take me to the fences, but not when it messes with my eye for my distance. We had a few ugly jumps over the first few and smaller of the course as she got settled into the routine. It took a lot more time to settle her into the combinations after her wild beginning of the course, so in order to be safe (and keep her sound, as the footing was a bit harder than I would have liked) we took our time. I didn't really allow her to get into a big good gallop between fences and over the big tables because I was worried I would not have her back enough to have a say in the approach. Despite a bit of a trip step into the first water, most of the remaining jumps rode very well for us. The big tables that looked a bit intimidating to walk rode like they were just another jump, and the combinations backed Zara off enough that we didn't have to go into anything complicated with a ton of pulling. I was especially pleased with her through the first water after her trip step on the entrance, as she pulled herself up, and payed attention to me to get her to the next 3 elements of the course - out of the water over a big triple log jump, one stride back into the water over another triple log jump, and out through a beach up to a skinny near the fence line. She also held herself together well to figure out the second water, which came after a big table off a right turn, with a drop in and a right turn around to a good sized bounce-out element. We crossed the finish line with a fair amount of time added to the optimum, but I wasn't too worried since Zara and I have almost always made time at the level. We certainly have a few things to sort out before the next pine top in 2 weeks, but it was not too bad of a start!! The most important thing will be getting a change to her bridle situation to make sure that I will be as safe as possible in the jumping phases. Until next time, stay warm wherever you are and hope the fantastic weather returns to Aiken very soon!!