Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shirley's First Event

It finally happened! Shirley actually got to attend her very first full horse trial! We had originally signed up for the Georgetown mini trial to be held on July 6th. Unfortunately, a bizarre summer weather-wise meant it was postponed due to rain/flooding/wet footing. It finally ran this past Sunday (July 28th) and we had a blast!

We entered the starter division (max 2'3") and in hindsight, while our dressage definitely needs improvement, we probably could have handled Beginner Novice. Hauled in and out in the same day, which is a bit different for me. Only thing that was needed was a run through Starbucks for the last 30 miles (thank you Taylorsville Road Starbucks for being appropriately positioned!)

Dressage was not amusing. We were doing Beginner Novice test B. She did a decent if a bit looky and distracted warmup in the field next to the arena (across the driveway from jumping). Got a FABULOUS left canter depart (we've been working on those). Moved up to the ring, which was next to their new indoor arena construction and just didn't have time to really settle before turning down the center line. I know she had some decent moments but overall I was not overly happy with our test (and my right arm/shoulder and right side of my back let me know I had problems). Thought the judge was pretty generous with a 42.9. Oh well. Put us in 7th place.

Annoying moment of the day was getting back to the trailer after dressage. I had left her halter hanging on the tie on the side of the 2 horse trailer I was using. A car had parked right next to me. Oh, I could still tie Shirley there (and did for a moment) but her hocks were less than 2' from this shiny gray audi. I was secretly hoping she'd poop on the car, but worried she'd kick and hurt herself. Needed to walk to the office anyway so after she was untacked, I just put her in the trailer to stand. BTW, car belonged to an eventer (as I and the people next to me looked for car keys to see if we could move it just a bit so I could continue to use my trailer). Makes NO sense (cars were all parked across the "driveway" from the trailers but not this one... and it stayed the rest of the day). And yes, I did leave a note on their windshield. Sorry, but doing that when there are plenty of other options is just rude.

Anyway, they were running the event so you had about 20 minutes between SJ and XC. The walk to the office was longer than I thought so I was actually running a little late on getting to warmup. Ok, that and Shirley was a bit antsy when I was trying to put her boots on. Thankfully it had only been an hour since dressage so it's not like I needed a long warmup. Just enough to get us thinking jump and to make sure we had buttons (directional control and brakes, specifically). Trotted the field between parking and warm up... trotted a big circle... jumped the X... cantered/trotted back around to jump the vertical... cantered around to jump the oxer... then headed to the ingate. Walked a couple circles then went in.

She was VERY looky... but oh so good! Had a couple minor bobbles in the form of being out of sync with her when she took a long spot, but overall, she did REALLY well. VERY proud of her. We walked the length of the warm up field. I hadn't planned to go back to the trailer as we did SJ in our boots and vest. Got there and was told they were running early. Cool. I jumped the log they had flagged in warm up then went to the start box. The XC course was a bit smaller than I thought it was going to be but it was a great first time out! She was brave and a LOT less looky than she had been when we did the event derby in May. She still looked hard at a couple bigger fences that we passed... and wigged out when I tried to take her between the property fenceline and the "woods" that were fenced off (an "alley" in between of about 20' across)... but overall she did FABULOUS!! I really can't say it enough. She was so good over all the fences once she figured out what we were going to jump. Even the MF at the ditch (we could take the actual ditch or a rail on the ground next to the ditch but no refusals would have counted -- pointed her at the ditch and she peeked ever so slightly at the last minute but it was just a "oh, there's something there" kind of peek). SO proud of her!!

But before she got to go back to the trailer, I took her butt back to the dressage ring (now finished for the day) and made her go through our dressage test again. Better. At least she actually picked up her right canter lead the 2nd time.

We finished our on 42.9 from dressage. 7th in our division (of 7 but most of the others were green horses being ridden by current upper level riders... it's been almost 9 years since I rode anything above BN). Got a pretty purple ribbon too. Very happy and proud of my Shirley. If we can both learn to relax in the dressage ring, I think it will all come together nicely. She's athletic, brave, intelligent and I really think she's enjoying herself with this job.

I purchased the picture CD. No dressage pics (probably a good thing) but here are some of the good ones from SJ and XC. Next up -- XC clinic on Saturday at Hoosier Horse Park in Indiana.

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