What a weekend! The Fork always promises to be an exciting weekend, filled with top-notch competitors and freakishly amazing XC courses. For DGE the weekend started on Thursday, where I skipped classes (without an ounce of guilt), packed up, and drove an hour over to Norwood. Unfortunately my perfect planning was thwarted by the lack of grain in the barn's feed room, so I had to wait an extra couple of hours while the barn owner was out getting grain for the entire barn. So much for getting there early. I pulled into the Fork around 7 pm, threw tack on the boys and got quick mini-lessons on the boys (practically in the dark). Oh well, it was better than nothing.
Dressage day dawned bright, early, and HOT HOT HOT. And when I say HOT i mean 90 degrees in April hot. Deacon was up first with a dressage time around 1 pm. He warmed up GREAT...his trot work was really great and he was incredibly obedient. Unfortunately he was peaked to go into the ring about 15 minutes before our actual time...by the time i went down centerline Deacon was DONE. We went for our first halt at"x" and...hi-ho silver. "Quite an exciting entrance" was the judge's comment. Unfortunately the rest of the test was off-and-on amazing...moments of greatness around moments where I wanted to jump into a pool and hide. Sigh. Next time.
I was really excited for Willy's dressage test - he was been putting in some beautiful work lately and I couldn't wait to show it off. But there was a twist (like always). The intermediate dressage had the longest walk known to man - and it happens to be the same way as XC ( you actually walk past xc) and since we have been here before Willy was VERY excited about doing xc first - complete with nervous poops and lunges into the air. When i finally got down to the dressage arena, it took every second of warmup just to get Willy to half-way listen to my aids. Our test was only halfway decent, accurate but very tense...can you say tight pony back? We received a not-so-great score, leaving us in 12th place for the night.
Saturday was cross-country day for Willy. The course was BIG, technical, and looked to be a great prep for Jersey. Willy shot out of the box like a little fireball, and never looked back. We were the last combination on course so I had the advantage of seeing just where the trouble spots were. The first water combination was causing a lot of trouble, but the pony jumped it perfectly. The announcer, Brian O'Connor kept commenting how smooth our round was - and how "you can't help but feel sentiment for this pair" (commenting on his show name "Wil'Ya Love Me"). We have it all on camera... it was a run that was just perfect. Willy never put a foot wrong, was an eager beaver to every fence, and .... FAST! We acquired only 2.4 time penalties, jumping from 12th to 5th. Willy's show jumping round on Sunday was also phenomenal. He jumped absolutely beautifully, but we had an unlucky rail...which kept us from moving to 2nd place. With the rail we ended up in 4th...not too shabby, but we definitely have our work cut out for us.
Deacon show jumped on Saturday. He was jumping absolutely great in warm-up, so I was ready to attack the very technical course. Rails were flying everywhere, and the two riders before us went off course...not a good thing to have happen! We went in the ring, and I committed the cardinal sin...rode completely backwards to the 3rd fence..down. To the 7th fence...down. Finally i remembered to use my legs and relax my elbows...and he jumped the rest of the course beautifully, having a green-bean moment in the triple - another rail down. Certainly not our best performance, but it was a growing experience... changing the round midway is a difficult task, and we accomplished that. Now we need to practice our half-halts and go forward to the fences.
The cross country was really big and technical for preliminary. The course started with fence 2 and 3 as maxed out tables...not much time to get a good gallop established. Deacon really surprised me this weekend. He galloped out of the box and really attacked these fences. We missed our distance to both max tables, and i just looked up, kept my leg on, and baby Deacon made it work. Not beautiful, but successful. This great momentum continued until the first water. I was really concerned about the "B" element...a skinny turtle out of the water. I got all up in his business, trying to establish a forward, bouncy canter (as planned) but forgot to say "jump" over the "A" element. Deacon very nicely came to a stop, turned his head and looked at me saying, "I don't understand you mom, but I did what you asked me." Darn. We came around again and he jumped the combination with ease. The rest of the course was great! Corners, drops, ditches, no problem! I was most concerned with the second water...a big drop in, 7 strides to a goose...all right next to the spectator tent. Deacon didn't hesitate for a second...did a huge leap into the water, almost sent me flying, and stayed completely straight as I pulled myself back into the saddle, and popped right over the goose. He got lots of carrots and cookies for that save! Despite our "opps" moments, I really feel Deacon is ready to tackle the CCI* at Virginia. We will be working really hard to increase his level of fitness and earn that final qualifying score.
DGE will be heading to Longleaf with one horse (Deacon) in the preliminary, then both horses will be running at MCTA. After MCTA, Willy and I head up to Jersey Fresh! Until then, I have a LOT of homework to catch up with!