I don't like to know where I'm placed after dressage. This stems from my experiences with Flo where I usually was placed well after dressage but didn't need the extra pressure of keeping my placing going into our weakest phase, cross country. I only want to know if I'm tied so I know whether or not I have to come in as close to optimum time as possible. Amy said I was tied and that my score was a significant improvement. Hm. Then, I got a text from Stace congratulating me on my dressage. OK... Then, someone told me we were tied for 1st. YIKES! HUH? YAY! River won the dressage? Apparently the judge WAS taken by my sparkly smile because her comments were this, "Aids appear to be correct but could not quite give you the higher scores because horse appeared to be 'lame' to the left but well done on your part." Come again? Your horse was lame but you rode well so you won? OK? Did I accidentally wear my striped underwear again? (last year, old man judge, all 7's, comment: good job). Whatever! 34? I'll take it!
During my dressage lesson with Amy on Friday evening, she suggested that we switch from the slow twist snaffle to an elevator for cross country. I found an elevator with a waterford mouth piece at the big blue trailer and bought it. I was worried about trying something new in warm up. He had been pulling down on me while galloping between fences and I knew I needed a stronger bit that would bring his head up without having to fight him so much before each fence. He jumped great in warm up!
We headed out and his first 4 fences were awesome. I had to really be conscious of the fact that I had a stronger bit in his mouth and follow Amy's instructions to ride quieter and equally with both hands. I did alright for the most part. One too many tugs would make him jump inverted. I tried to stay out of his way as much as I could without letting him revert in to complete racehorse mode. The best feeling was when we came down a hill after a bit of a gallop stretch to a two stride log combination. He came right back to me, stayed in my hand and was super confident. I trotted him to the fence before the water so he could have a look-see then kicked like a kid in a grocery store tantrum over it. Success!
The only section of the course that gave me pause when I walked it was the bank combination. There were tiny barrels, 3 strides to bank up, sharp left turn around tree to maximum Novice table. I thought that if I didn't have his attention or enough energy after coming up the bank I would yell, "Not presenting," turn right, circle, and come back to the table. When we came to the barrels he was really backed off because he was looking at the bank after it. I barely managed to kick him over the barrels and then he was great to the bank. On top of the bank I thought, "I'm good," so I continued around the corner to the table. He was suprised by it, sucked back the last two strides, panicked, and stopped. I made him CLIMB it so he would know he made the dishonest choice. It was a green moment, granted, but he could have/should have gone on. He made a big effort over it the second time. Quick rinse of my mouth with soap and we carried on.
River jumped the rest of the course well. There was even a little half coffin with a faux ditch that he cruised through without a second thought. I thought for sure he would launch over the ditch but he just skipped over it like, no-biggie, Mom. Even with the stop, we made time. I was SUPER bummed about the greeny stop, but was happy over all. Amy thought it was the best round we'd had to date.
Show jumping was a step back for us. I jumped him in the elevator and I don't think I was ready to show jump him in it. He was totally inverted over the first and never fell into a rhythm. Jim Graham was my SJ judge and I was thinking way too much about how Jim was probably watching the rest of my round through the cracks beween his fingers. We only had a rail down later in the course (don't remember which), but none of it was very pretty. Something to improve on next time!
Looky here for show pics.
The weekend had it's ups and downs. River does seem to improve at something every show even if the placings don't show it. He is slightly ADHD and progress is slow but steady. He is a sweet, sweet pony and it's been so educational bringing him along. He recently stepped on one of the clips of his off hind shoe and is still sore. We didn't shoe him behind this cycle to let his hind feet grow out. I hope I can get one more show in on him this season. I've really been focusing on building my confidence since Champagne Run and Flo's retirement. The month or so off from showing has been a good let down from the pressure. I'm feeling refocused and am acutally excited for and not dreading XC! Bring it on!