I’d waited close to a year for this event to finally happen. It kept changing dates and I hung onto it like a barnacle to a piece of ply lost at sea! It finally came around and I couldn’t help but be a little sad about it. This was supposed to be Timmy’s first level 5 horse trials. Truth be told, when he was diagnosed with stringhalt back in February, part of me knew he wouldn’t be doing it. But as I rode Montana through the paddock with the stringhalt yards – now empty and ghoulish – my gaze fell down to my hands and I concentrated on the even rhythm of Moo’s walk. 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4…not a single stick, jam or hop or fall. Thank heavens Moo is fine…
Dressage and showjumping for Peninsula Horse Trials was held at Langwarrin Equestrian Reserve, twenty-minutes away. I’ve competed there many times. It’s either a do well ground (like 1st place) or Montana shies at grass up the centreline and we score dismally kind of place!
We warmed up. My fiancé came and my parents came to cheer me on for the dressage. We’ve been working mercilessly hard on our dressage. It’s kind of why I haven’t blogged very much, actually. There’s not much to say in dressage progress except ooooh, that’s getting better. I will try harder, I promise, to post more often.
I entered the ring straight and determined to get better than 69.57%. We had the same judge as the CT day there in September and that is what she scored us for our test that day. I wanted to do better. I wanted the work I’ve put into Moo the last 2 months to really be apparent. Round up. He shook his head, but offered a little submission. Not bad for his first comp out since April! I walked out of the ring with mixed feelings. It was great in parts, but could be so much better. I gave him a good pat and gave him some lunch while I waited anxiously for showjumping.
Our showjumping training has really taken a backseat for our dressage training. With showjumping, I’ve mostly been concentrating on lines. I have my confidence back for level 4 height though which is a massive improvement.
I legged Montana up to the judge. Trudge, trudge, trudge, trudge, went his walk. A big sigh and a snort. Mummy, I’m bored…Then the bell tingled, and I kind of lost him. He cantered off and I had to quickly get it back before we crossed the start line. Oops. Bad start. He ran to the first jump. WOOHOO I’M JUMPING WOOHOO! I sat back and hauled terribly at my outside rein. ‘Wait, Moo! Wait! Listen!’ Did he? No. He jumped the spread but flattened out and the rail fell unluckily. ‘Damn it!’ But it woke him up. He came back to me and listened to me. I lost him a little bit after 6B because I stuffed up 5. I got him too deep so he ran a little, knowing I didn’t really have the knowledge. 6A & B were three strides from 5 so I just sat and went with him, letting him go. So after 6B, he thought he was in control and sped up again. ‘Wait, come back, noooo, whoa.’ Quick turn to 7 & 8, U turn to the right to 9. 4 faults. Bugger. I walked out so disappointed. Why? Because we were =1st after dressage. Yes, folks. You read it correctly. EQUAL 1ST.
I took Moo home and spent a weird-night-sleep thinking about where we would’ve dropped to in the final results. Would I be out of the top 10? How frustrating that I let him run from me and knock that rail. I was so disappointed with myself.
Cross country the next day was held at home (Tooradin Estate). I saddled Moo up and walked him out the back, passing Timmy’s empty yard on the yard. I walked lap after lap of the warm-up before popping him over twice. We circled around the start box. The steward said jealously, ‘You look way too relaxed to be doing cross country!’
I smiled and said, ‘We love our cross country.’ Plus, this was his home! He knew every speck of dirt and every jump as well as I do!
Off we went, galloping slowly through the first bit of the course.
I left him alone to pick his own speed. He never felt very fast. But we were held up at jump 8 because the horse before had decided to go gallop rider-free around the open area. I paused my stopwatch and circled Moo around. I glanced at our time so far. Oh yikes. 1:25…and we only had 4 jumps to go…and a minimum time of 3:50. Hmm. I’ve been told this before but it’s never actually registered completely HOW fast he actually goes on XC. Oopsies. HRCAV give you time penalties for any less than 30 seconds under time. I’d have to seriously apply some brakes if I wanted a “clear”.
So once we got started again, I was half-halting every 2 strides. ‘Waaaaii…Waaaiiii…’ He listened for jumps 9, 10, 11 and 12…then he knew he was going home and he went through the narrow sandy tracks like the clappers. Jump 13. I was practically lying on his rump I was leaning back so much trying to stop him! ‘Moo, please, slow down!’ I said. Over the last jump, and we were home. 4:00. Phew! No time penalties.
But after I took him back to his paddock and looked after him, the scores were up and I had a few time penalties. So I went and contested it. The jump judge that held me up had left early, hadn’t followed protocol and I had my stopwatch – plus I protested in time, so the club president gave way to my protest. So I walked out with 4th place and 1 point on my performance card.
I really hope they have it again next year!
P.S the girl I was equal with after dressage (my friend whom I am always equal with after dressage? Haha it’s a running theme)? She won. So yes, I am REALLY kicking myself about that dang rail! Haha