Any of you who have followed my blog for a while know that Dreamy and I have had much success at Elementary (or Modified Beginner Novice) level eventing. It is basically the Beginner Novice Test A and 2' - 2'3" jumps. We have won our fair share of events, but I recognized that for this year, we either needed to move up or stop competing. (I would hate to be "that girl" who stays at the same level and just keeps winning. That just doesn't seem right.) Now that Dreamy is 21 years old, the thought of moving up to 2'7" jumps seemed iffy. I figured if she was sound and happy over fences up to 2'9" at home, then I could feel confident entering her in Beginner Novice events.
So far, Dreamy has been her same old happy and sound self this year. She is in good shape and is moving well for a horse her age. She is on joint supplements, of course, and I am careful to only jump her a few times a month.
Our first move up event was on May 26 at Green Acres Stable in New Hampshire. It was a very hot day, one of the few really warm days here in New England. I was thankful to have my dressage ride out of the way early in the day. We did Beginner Novice Test B, which I really like, and scored a 41.9. We had mostly 6s and 7s with a few 5s on the canter work. The judge wrote nice comments: "Great ride! Horse has great push from behind, just a little more connection to help topline keep that canter (smiley face)." I liked that she asked what Dreamy's breed is at the end of the test. When I said Standardbred, she said, "Wow! She looks great and her canter is really not that bad then!" LOL! We ended up tied for fourth in our division of 8.
By the time my dressage was over, my friend Tania arrived with her horse Otis. They competed in the Pre Elementary 2-Phase division and did quite well! It was super hot and I was a little worried about my XC course. I am a sissy when it comes to jumping apparently. LOL! Walking the XC that morning, I realized I could not step over the jumps any longer! LOL!!!! It always made me feel "good" when I could walk the course and step over the fences. Most of the fences actually looked fine, but the very last jump, #15, was a huge hay table. I know the hay on the top really made it looks taller than it was, but I was still worried. I figured it was the last jump, so by that point we would have made it around every thing else. Many of the Beginner Novice jumps were also for Novice. There were big coops, logs, a table and none of them looked that bad. There was even a baby up-bank; Dreamy had never done a bank, but I have with other horses, so that fence did not make me nervous at all! I tried to talk myself out of being worried about the last fence. Can you catch the foreshadowing????
Dreamy warmed up fine and we had no problems on our XC course. She hopped over the logs, benches, tables, coops, and even popped up onto the bank with no problem (Though I do think she was a bit surprised by it! LOL!) She was super brave and we had fun. The last four fences were up a hill, so we cantered along merrily over fences 12, 13, 14......yay we are almost done!!...and then of course, we loom up to that big hay table and my stomach drops. I started thinking, "Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, that's big......." to "Stop it, this is the last fence, come on, be brave" all in about one second of time. This is just enough time for Dreamy to wonder why I am waffling and we had a run out to the right. It smartened me up, and we circled back and jumped it easily, once I got my head into the game. I knew I had blown that 4th place tie with the 20 point penalty for a XC refusal. Never in Dreamy's career have we had a XC refusal and it bummed me out that I had let her down. I knew it wasn't her fault, of course, and she got much praise, cookies, and a long cool down. But man, I will never stop riding and doubt myself on XC again. It was a huge slap in the face, but I think I needed it.
We went on to stadium about an hour later. Dreamy was tired and it was hot. At least she was drinking well (she has a tendency to not drink at shows, even when I bring her water from home) and I had given her a tube of electrolytes, just in case. The stadium course was pretty straightforward but there were a bunch of skinnies....something I admit I rarely practice anywhere but in competition (stupid me) because I don't have short poles at home.
Well, I need to get some short poles and practice jumping a skinny. Specifically fences 2A and 2B were a one stride combination from a regular vertical to a skinny. I stopped steering, apparently, and Dreamy decided to run out again to the right. 2B was such a narrow fence there was no room to correct her, so I had to circle. That was only a 4 point penalty, and every single rider in my division had a 4 point penalty in stadium. But I had that XC run out, so I moved down to 7th place. Without the XC refusal, we would have stayed tied for fourth (and might have moved to third if our collectives were higher - and they could have been since they were all 7s). I was still pleased we finished, as that was really my only goal for the day, but it sucked to know the mistakes we made were mistakes I KNOW better than to make. Oh well. Dreamy is an honest horse, but she is not the type of horse to bail me out. She makes me ride every stride, every fence, and I let her down twice. I was pretty bummed that day, but I also take this as a huge learning experience. I cannot wait for our next event! It is not until August, so we have plenty of time to practice skinnies, especially in a combination, and to go cross country schooling with Tania and Otis...I hope Tania will try another event sometime this year!
Here are the professional pics! There are five photos of us in stadium. (For some reason, the photographer only did shots in stadium...ah well!) :-)