Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Full Gallop Fiasco

Oh my goodness, where do I start. The boys have had a super season thus far! It seemed like everyone was on top of their game, and we had hardly any cobwebs to dust off! Deacon achieved his CCI* qualifications easily (3 competitions in a row), and Willy started off with a 2nd place (followed by a brief injury). We had a three week hiatus since the last competition... and my goodness we were all covered in cobwebs!

The weekend started with an impromptu trip to Southern Pines. I left the boys at home and had to drive to meet Cherie Gaebel to retake two sections of my USPC HA Test. I've been trying to retake this test since last July, so it was imperative that I get it done NOW! Luckily Cherie was able to squeeze me in on Friday afternoon, so i dropped everything and headed down! Thankfully I was very much prepared for the sections this time, and passed. Yay, finally an HA! Now we have to look forward to the A Testing this summer.

While it was awesome to finally achieve my rating, I stayed up all night studying and didn't have anything ready for the competition! Instead of driving down Thursday night with nothing ready, I opted to get everything done and leave at *gasp* 2 am from Lewisville, NC to Aiken, SC. It made sense at the time, but now I have to question the blonde-logic that went into such a decision.

Wake up calls at 1 am are no fun. Especially when you are running on no sleep from studying the night before! Well i managed to wake the poor ponies up and get everyone on the road by 2:30, which put us at the competition at roughly 6:30 am. Not bad - especially when i had a 7:30 dressage ride. With a quick pit stop and some road work, i pulled into Full Gallop at 7:10. YIKES! Poor Deacon, I literally drove in threw tack on, cantered to the show office, got my number and cantered into the ring. No warmup, nothing. Poor Deacon tried very hard to give me a good test, but with my blood pressure sky-rocketing and him wondering what on earth was going on, we were given a less than desirable score in the low 40s (42 or 41 i think). Willy warmed up great. His trot work was average, his canter work was light and balanced. He was very responsive and right on the aides. I put in, what I thought was one of his best tests. At the end of my test the judge came out of her car and lectured me on how i made her entire ring late and how at this level i should know my times! YIKES. I checked my watch, went over to the ring steward - both of which assured me that I actually went into the ring 3 minutes before my posted time. I guess the judge was having a rotten day! It turns out that the girl in front of me went in the wrong ring, and was the culprit.. but I suffered from her mistake. The judge's score reflected her animosity towards me, giving Willy a 39, a score much higher than what he should have earned. Oh well. Some things are beyond a rider's control.

Show Jumping, usually my best phase, was another disaster. Willy was a wild man, so excited to see big fences at a show, and wasn't very excited to listen to my half-halts. His over-exuberance led me to grip with my hands, forgetting the "release" of the half-halt. This made for an "interesting" first 5 fences. Thankfully I decided to ride and fix our course mid-way through, and the second half of our round was beautiful. Unfortunately the miscommunication on our first five fences cost us 2 rails...something we have not had for several years! While this stunk... the good news is we improved half way through, and seemed to be jumping in harmony yet again. Willy's cross country the next day was textbook. After he managed to get away from me in XC warm-up (I was greasing his hind-legs and he decided it was more productive to keep warming up), he went out of the box like a champ. He jumped fabulously, answered all the questions and had the fastest intermediate XC round of the day! This was a surprise as I still have never pushed for time! With his great xc round, Willy moved up to 4th place! Not bad considering our lackluster dressage and show jumping rounds!

Poor Deacon didn't fare as well in the jumping phases. While he was very well behaved in both warm-ups, we had several miscommunications.. most of which were my fault. I started to pull backwards to the first show jumping fence... and he pulled the rail. I immediately corrected my error and we put forth a beautiful round, which a minor green pony moment at the triple. Not too shabby for this young horse! The prelim XC was technical but fair. The fourth fence was in a fence line, and poor Deacon galloped up to the fence and just stopped. I knew immediately he was confused. "Mom I am not supposed to jump the fence...are you crazy!?". I approached the fence again, and with a little encouragement from my whip, Deacon decided that jumping the fence may not be such a bad thing! Our next two problems came at turning combinations... where i decided to make rookie mistakes... trying to turn a horse using inside rein only instead of outside aides. DUH!!!! To two separate combinations i committed a cardinal sin, and poor Deacon's score and record suffered because of it. I have already set up the same question in our jumping ring at home.. we are going to practice it today!

While our scores and individual performances were not up to par this weekend, it was a fabulous learning experience. As any event rider will tell you, our horse's mistakes reflect the mistakes his rider makes. Obviously I have some homework! The boys and I will be leaving for Southern Pines a day early (thursday) to get in a flat lesson with coach Colleen Rutledge. Hopefully Full Gallop dusted off all our cobwebs and we can put some great phases in this weekend at the Horse Park! It looks to be a very challenging weekend... Wish us luck!


Friday, March 5, 2010

What's Happening with DGE?

Photo by HoofClix!
Hello all!

You all may be wondering why the pony has been MIA from events this month? Well, after running beautifully at Full Gallop he came home with a stump leg! His left front was swollen, extremely sensitive, and very hot! I was at a complete loss because he jogged sound after his great XC run... so I called the vet immediately. The diagnosis: severe rubs from his brand new Tri Zone XC boots (the no-rub ones!). Similar to a girth gull, the boots killed/rubbed off almost all layers of skin protecting his tendons. Luckily no tendons or ligaments were effected, but the skin was in such bad shape that poor pony had to stay in his stall with Surpass ointment everyday. No water, dirt, sand, soap, etc was to touch the skin. So after two weeks post- Full Gallop the pony is finally back in work. Needless to say this put a huge damper on our competition schedule. We were supposed to run Intermediate at Pine Top II, then advanced at Pine Top HT. Since we had to scratch from Pine Top II, our advanced debut needed to be pushed back... now it looks like we will wait until after Jersey Fresh CCI** for the big move up. Sigh.

Anyway, the pony is feeling much better now! He is back in full training and being his naughty self. We were all set to go to Pine Top HT, but unfortunately i had three flat tires on the trailer... meaning its time to tighten my belt and get 5 new tires for our rig. So the pony missed his outing, yet again. Not to worry we have my favorite events coming up.. another run at Full Gallop, Southern Pines II, The Fork, then an advanced CT at Longleaf.

Deacon and I braved the winter weather yet again for pine Top II. Georgia received over 4 inches of snow... and I almost decided to stay home! The Pine Top crew worked overtime to make the facility competition-ready and worked very hard to accommodate all of the competitors! Due to the storm and delayed ride times, Deacon and I had all three phases pushed back to Sunday. Deacon was PERFECT in dressage warm-up, really soft, supple, and obedient... ready to WIN! But other things were in store for us... Deacon reminded me that he is still a baby and will go silly baby things. Dressage was in a grass area...which was horribly deep and uneven, but worse... show jumping was on one side of the arena, and xc was just across the pond. Poor Deacon just froze, and wasn't sure which way to look. The good thing is... he is starting to understand his job! He say the horses running and jumping, and knew it was time to GO... unfortunately it made for a very tense, distracted, and B-A-D test. oh well, i guess I will allow the baby horse to have one bad test every two years. Despite our interesting version of prelim Test A, we managed to obtain a qualifying score from Brain Ross. Show Jumping was BIG and quite technical for Prelim, riders had to find the perfect canter and perfect spot or rails would fly! Deacon was jumping great in warm-up and posted another DOUBLE CLEAR round. YAY! XC was even more intimidating, especially for this early in the season... questions like a bounce bank (with a huge off), corners, offset lines, BIG gallop fences, Bounce bank water fence, jumps in the water, etc. Deacon had never seen half of these questions before so I wanted to go a bit slower to really give him the opportunity to understand the course. My plan paid off. Deacon grew more confident as the course went along, and was an absolute super star, with plenty of gas left in the tank! He moved all the way up to 6th. Not too bad for his 4th prelim, in a division filled with Intermediate Horses and Riders (who were using Pine Top as a 'dust the cobwebs off' event). All in all, I was very pleased with Deacon - he is now qualified for the Virginia CCI*!

We have a short break before we head to Aiken for Full Gallop. See you all there!